Opening Doors to Social Studies with Children's Literature

Katie's Trunk and Changes for Felicity

Curriculum Developer: Jamie Gardner

1. Titles: (1) Katie's Trunk (2) Changes for Felicity

2. Author: (1) Ann Turner (2) Valerie Tripp

3. Publisher and Date: (1) Macmillan Publisher's Company, 1992 (2) Pleasant Company, 1992

4. Curriculum Developer: Jamie L. Gardner

5. Summaries:

1. The story Katie's Trunk takes place during the Revolutionary War. A young girl named Katie faces rejection from her former peers and neighbors because of being a Loyalist (Tory). When the rebels come to ransack her home for money and valuables, Katie and her family hide in the nearby forest. Angered by what is happening, Katie returns to her home and hides from the mobbers in her mother's wedding trunk. When the mob begins to search the trunk, a neighbor of Katie's discovers that she is there but doesn't tell his companions. Instead, he frightens them away and leaves the trunk open so she can breathe. Katie realizes later that even though they are on opposite sides of the war,they are still connected together through love.

2. In Felicity Learns a Lesson, a young girl named Felicity is faced with the onset of the Revolutionary War and its results on her and her family. Felicity and her family are Patriots, but her grandfather and best friend Elizabeth are Loyalist. When Elizabeth's father is jailed for being loyal to the King, Felicity has to deal with the effects of this on her friendship with Elizabeth.

6. Social Studies Relevance:
Both of these books deal with the Revolutionary War and would work well in a unit on the war and the time leading up to it. The books focus on the effects of war on the people involved in them, especially if friends are found on opposing sides. The books also lend themselves to the use of maps in comparing the locations of the main characters and of the colonies compared to Great Britain.

7. Grade Level Focus: Third Grade

8. Objectives: (Utah State Core Curriculum)

Table of Contents

Lesson Plans:

Title of Lesson: Katie's Decision


  1. Given the story Katie's Trunk, the students will evaluate Katie's decision to return home or not to return home using a decision tree.

Materials: Katie's Trunk, decision tree outline (see appendix)


1. Introduction. By the raise of hands, have the students indicate if they have ever had someone stop liking them for something they didn't really do. Tell students that you are going to read them a story about a little girl who had her friends stop liking her just because of something she and her family believe. This story is based on a true story that happened to the author's ancestor. Point out to the children that this story took place a long time ago and have them listen carefully to find clues to when this story takes place.

2. Decision Tree Strategy. Read until page 12 in the book. Stop after "I raced for the house, Mama's fierce whisper trying to call me back." Put up decision tree overhead with the two decisions being "staying with family" and "returning to house." (Note: This plan works off the assumption that the students have worked with decision trees before. If this is a new concept, teach about decision trees before starting this lesson.) Tell students they are going to think about Katie's decision to go back to the house. Working with you, the students, as a class, will fill out the decision tree and discuss which course of action the students think is the best one to follow. See Appendix for ideas/points to be brought out. Discuss the answers and ask students to explain and defend their answers.

3. Tell students to listen as you finish the book to see what Katie does and if any of their predictions were correct. Read the rest of the story and compare the ending with the children's responses.

4. Ask if anyone has figured out when it took place. If someone guesses "Revolutionary War" or something similar, that person must defend his/her answer with information and clues from the book. Some terms and quotes that prove this is the time period include "tea dumped in harbor," "Tory," "Rebel," "English goods," and "letters your papa speaks of."

5. Tell students that for the next week,they'll be learning about the War while looking at it from two very different view points. One is from Katie, who is a loyalist to the king of England, and the other is about a little girl who is a rebel that we will read about later.

Evaluation: To evaluate, call on students for participation in decision tree and will ask random questions from the book regarding the time period.


Decision Tree:

Choice #1 - Stay with Family

Good Consequences - stay safe, protect family, don't give away hiding place

Bad Consequences - no one to protect home, home destroyed, rebels get money for war


Choice #2 - Return to House

Good Consequences - hide valuables, scare away mobbers, convince them to leave peacefully

Bad Consequences - captured, killed, injured, can't stop rebels, family will be worried



Title of Lesson: Where is England and the colonies?


  1. Using atlases and globes, the students will trace a map of the world and label Great Britain, the colonies, London, Williamsburg, Boston, and Lexington.
  2. Students will develop map skills by placing and using a directional marker/compass rose on their map and writing a key for distance.

Materials Needed:
Paper, pencils, crayons/markers, atlases, maps showing the colonies and Great Britain, rulers, calculators, Changes for Felicity, large world map with cities on it for class discussion


1. Show students the book Changes for Felicity. Introduce them to the character of Felicity (little girl living around the same time as Katie, about same age, lives in Williamsburg in the colonies, is a Patriot or rebel).

2. Read excerpts from the book: pgs 1-3, 9-11, 20-31, 47-49, 60-62

3. Ask students what Katie and Elizabeth had in common (both are Loyalists). Ask the children to brainstorm why they were called Loyalists (mentioned in books - because loyal to King George III in England).

4. Mini-lesson. The colonies were ruled by England because it had started the colonies and helped them until they could help themselves. The King could tell the colonists what to do even though he was far across the ocean in England. The colonists couldn't send any of their people over to represent them in front of the King, and this really upset the colonists, especially when the King made them pay taxes on the stuff they got from England. The colonists started saying, "no taxation without representation."

5. Display a map of the world. Ask students to come up and identify where they think the colonies were and where England is. Tell the students they are going to make their own map to help them see how far away England is and also to help them know where other important events in the Revolutionary War took place.

6. Let the students choose partners to make the map with. Give each pair paper and a pencil and put out markers, crayons, etc., to color with. Have scattered across the room several books, atlases, and maps that the students can use to trace the their map. Post the locations of where the students need to put on their maps: North America, the colonies, Williamsburg, Lexington, Boston, England, London, and their hometown. Each map also needs to have a directional marker and a key for distance.

7. As they finish, have the students take a ruler and calculate the distance between England and the colonies. Then have them see where that distance would take them if they started at their hometown and went that distance. Have the students list where they ended up and what direction they went on the back of their map or on a separate sheet of paper stapled to their map.

8. Closure. Bring the class back together. Look at some of the maps and display to class. Tell the students they'll be learning more about the things they put on their map and how they relate to the Revolutionary War.

Evaluation: Check the maps for proper placement of desired locations and criteria.


Title of Lesson: Revolutionary War time line


  1. Students will be able to locate information in reference books
  2. Students will be able to place events from the Revolutionary War in appropriate sequence.

Materials Needed: Events on strips of paper (see appendix), encyclopedias, history books for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades (multiple copies), nonfiction children's literature on Revolutionary War, applicable magazines, pamphlets, etc.


1. Review two books that have been read. Point out that the setting for both is during the Revolutionary War and that many events are mentioned in the books but not really explained, like the references to tea in the harbor. Tell students that today they are going to learn about things that happened before, during, and after the war and put these events on a time line to help them see how things progressed.

2. Explain that there are several resource books scattered around the room that have the information they need. Working with a partner, they will be given an event, and then they have to find out when it happened. Demonstrate how to use a resource book by using a book to locate information on farming. Pick up an encyclopedia and look up "farming" under "F," then use the table of contents and index of a history book to see what pages might have information on farming.

3. After the students have found the date, they are to write it on the paper strip and post in on the time line the teacher has drawn on the board. (Time line should begin at 1750 and end at 1790 with every ten years indicated with a longer line and the rest of the years indicated with short lines.)

4. Ask students, using clues from the books, to guess where Felicity and Katie's stories take place on the time line. (Katie around 1773-1774, Felicity around 1775-1776).

5. After all the dates are posted, go through it with the class and check for accuracy on the dates. As each date is checked, give a brief summary of what happened at the event and why it is important. Tie in how one event leads to another, like the Stamp Act led to the Boston Tea Party which led to the Intolerable Acts. Recite the events in correct order with the students, telling them that they will have to put some of them in order for you.

6. Give each students a piece of paper. Choose five of the most important events on the time line and list on the board in random order. The students then must put them in correct order. (They don't have to put down a date.)

Evaluation: Check for accuracy on the dates to show skill in using the reference books. Use the time line as an evaluation of their abilities to place things in sequence.





Title of Lesson: What if Katie and Felicity met?


  1. Students will be able to recall events from Katie's Trunk and Changes for Felicity.
  2. Students will be able to identify similarities and differences between Katie and Felicity.
  3. Students will use events from the stories to support their opinions.

Materials Needed: response journals, poster board with Venn Diagram draw on it, markers.


1. Write the names Katie and Felicity on the board, leaving enough room under each name to write a summary of the story. Ask the students to tell you the main events from each story in order. Write them on the board under the respective name.

2. Venn Diagram Strategy. Display the Venn Diagram poster in a location where you can still write on it, but the students can see it. Ask the students to tell you things that are similar and different about each girl. Have Felicity's name in one circle and Katie's in the other. Some similarities could include: girls living during Revolutionary War, both had friends they couldn't play with because of political affiliation, both had friends that were on the opposing political party, and both thought everyone shouldn't let the war ruin friendship and concern for others. Differences could include: one a Patriot, one a loyalist; one had her home ransacked, the other didn't, etc.

3. Response Journals Strategy. Show the students the Venn Diagram. Say, "Now that we can see more clearly some of the things the two girls share and some things that they might not see eye to eye on, I want you to imagine that Katie and Felicity meet one day and spend the day together. What kind of things would they say to each other? Would they get along? Would they become friends? What would they talk about? Do you think Katie could convince Felicity to become a Loyalist or vice versa?" Have children write or draw what they think would happen in their response journals. The students need to support their opinions with events that happened in the story.

Closure: Ask students who feel comfortable doing so to share what they wrote in their journals. Tell the students that the Revolutionary War was an important part of our history, and we celebrate it each year on the fourth of July, or Independence Day. Also point out to students that it's okay to believe differently than someone else, and you can still be friends, like Felicity and Elizabeth, and Katie and her neighbor who didn't tell the others she was there.

Evaluation: Check the students' response journals for their ideas, looking specifically for accurate use of events in the stories for support. Also, check for accuracy while doing the Venn Diagram.