Children's Literature in the Social Studies Curriculum


Mini-Unit: Natural Resources

Grade Level: 3rd

Author: Taralee Alleman


Table of Contents

The Lorax

Lesson Plans

Wise Choices

Our Treasured Trees

Land as a Valuable Resource

And Still The Turtle Watched

Lesson Plan

Be Kind to our Earth

Appendix

Sharing or Choosing Volunteers

Works cited


The Lorax

Book Title: The Lorax
Author: Dr. Seuss
Publisher and Date: Random House, 1971
Curriculum Developer: Taralee Alleman

 

Summary:

The land was beautiful, and colorful trees grew everywhere until... Once-ler came to town. He started cutting down the trees to make "Thneeds". Soon the business grew, a factory was built, and more and more trees were being cut down. The Once-ler would not listen to the Lorax, who spoke on behalf of the trees. The Bar-ba-loots were forced to move because without the trees they did not have food. The Swomee-Swans had to fly south because of the smog. The water pollution caused all of the fish to leave. The Once-ler kept chopping until the last tree was cut. The land was left gray and desolate. There is only one tree seed left, and it is up to the reader to decide what will be done with it.

 

Social Studies Relevance:

This book is a great tool in addressing many natural resource topics. It talks about the ways in which humans use natural resources to meet their needs, and the ways in which the environment is modified during this process. It can be used to discuss how resources affect the community and jobs on a local level. It is also very useful in discussing the decisions we make and the responsibility we have to use our resources wisely. Many current ecological concerns (pollution, conservation, endangered species, etc.) can be brought to the students' attention using this book.

 

Grade Level Focus:

3rd grade

 

Relationship to Social Studies State Core:


 

Wise Choices

The activites contained in this lesson plan may take several class periods to complete. Each of the activites has an objective and a means of evaluation that corresponds with it. Daily, the teacher should ensure that the objectives are being covered and the evaluation is taking place that accompanies the selected activies.

 

Objectives:

 

Materials needed:


Procedures:

1. Ask the class if any of them have made a choice today. Allow students time to think and then call on volunteers to share a choice they have made. If students are having a difficult time thinking of any choices, guide them with questions such as: Did you choose what you would wear to school today? Did you choose what you would eat for breakfast? Did you choose what to play at recess and who to play with? Share choices that you have made with the class.

2. Corners- Write this statement on the board: The choices I make influence others. Post a sign in each corner of the room. (Absolutely!, Yes!, Maybe!, No!) Have students determine which corner sign they agree with most and have them move to that corner of the room. In pairs, have them discuss why they chose to move to that corner. Then, as a whole corner group have them share ideas about why their statement best agrees with the sentence on the board. Have a spokesman from each group share the group's ideas. Ask if any students have changed their opinion and then allow them to move to the corner they now feel best represents their view.

3. Circle Activity-Take students to an open area where they can form a large circle (gymnasium or outdoors). Have students form a large circle, each student facing the same way, about one foot apart. On the count of three have all the students squat down (as if moving into a sitting position). The students will be sitting on each other's laps. It may take a couple of tries to make this work! When the students are in this position, pull one student out. The whole circle will fall! Use this activity to discuss the idea that one person really does make a difference. Ask the students to think of an example of one person making a difference. Have several students share their ideas.

4. Read The Lorax. To focus the students' attention, have them listen for choices that characters make.

5. Brainstorm problems that were found in the book. (Pollution, the animals had to move, smog, all the trees were cut down. . . ) Write the students' ideas on the board. Ask the students what caused these problems. Guide them to discover that the problems were all because of decisions that people made. Vocabulary: Define consequence and stress the concept that all decisions have consequences.

6. Debate- Assign half of the class to speak on behalf of Once-ler (who was responsible for all the trees being cut down) and the other half of the class to speak on behalf of the Lorax (who tried to save the trees). Have each half of the class break into groups of four or five. In these groups have them write down ideas that defend their assigned position. The Once-ler groups should prepare ideas to convince others that cutting down the trees was not wrong. The Lorax groups should prepare evidence that cutting down the trees was wrong. After working in small groups, students should meet with their half of the class and share the ideas gathered. The teacher directs the debate. One group is given the chance to share one point and then the floor goes to the other group. They can respond to that point or present a new point from their view. Debate continues until both sides have presented all ideas. Conclude the debate by having the class members vote for which view they side with. They do not have to agree with the side they were assigned to defend.

7. Writing extension- Discuss the last page in The Lorax. (There is one tree seed left and it is up to the reader to decide what will be done with it.) Have students write a story that tells what is done with the last seed. Students should create these stories independently.

8. Plant a class tree- Give each student a section of the paper tree trunk. Have the students think of a choice they can make to help build a better community to live in. They should write their responses on their piece of the trunk. The trunks can then be put together to make a tall class tree for a bulletin board or wall display.


Evaluation

 


 

Our Treasured Trees

 

Objectives:


Materials needed:


Procedures:

1. Value Whip- Ask students to think of one reason why trees are important to us. After they have had time to think, begin at one corner of the room and quickly have each student share their reason. (Students should be allowed to pass if they do no wish to share.)

2. Discussion- Introduce new vocabulary terms: natural resources and renewable resources. Natural resources are things in nature that are useful to people. Renewable resources are resources that will replenish themselves if not used up completely or too quickly (Comparing Communities). Trees are renewable resources that need our special attention. Discuss how we use trees to meet our basic needs. List things on the board that we get from trees (homes, paper, fruit, buildings, shade, oxygen, jobs, etc.) Why are we cutting trees down? What is the consequence? (ozone depletion, animals lose homes, endangered animals, beauty of forests)

3. Consequence list- Pretend that you have just received a letter in the mail that you would like to share with the class. Begin reading: "Attention all citizens of the United States: Beginning tomorrow, (date), the cutting down of trees will cease. Anyone found with an ax, saw, or other chopping device will be punished according to the law. Sincerely, President Bill Clinton". Divide the class into groups of three or four. Have them divide a piece of paper in half. They should label the right side "Good Consequences" and the left side "Bad Consequences." Ask the students what would happen if we were really not allowed to cut any more trees down. They should then work in their groups to list as many consequences as they can think of. When the students have had enough time to complete this, make a class consequence list on the board. The students should supply the items for the class list from their group lists. Make sure students understand that the hypothetical letter used in this activity is not real.

4. Think-Pair-Share- Pose the following question: What could we do to help save our trees? Have students think of possible ideas individually. Then have them pair up and share their ideas with a partner. After a few minutes, have them form larger groups and share possible ideas with more class members.

5. Have students record three ideas presented in activity #4 in their response journal. This may be done in the form of a letter to the President, suggesting some alternatives to stopping the cutting down of trees altogether.


Evaluation

 


 

Land as a Valuable Resource

 

Objectives:


Materials needed:


Preparation:


Procedure:

1. Have students write down everything they had for breakfast. Write down everything that you had for breakfast on the board (modeling for students).

2. Choose one thing that you had for breakfast and trace it back to the soil. (Egg, I bought the egg at the store, it was delivered to the store from a farm, a chicken on the farm laid the egg, chickens eat grain, grain is grown in soil.) Everything can be traced back! Have students trace the things they ate for breakfast back to the soil. This should be done on paper (orally would require a lot of time). Discuss the fact that leather and fiber can also be traced back to the soil. Soil is a natural resource.

3. Guest speaker/field trip- Arrange to have a farmer come and visit the class or to take a field trip to a farm. Before this experience, have the students generate a class list (on the board) including everything they know about farming and what a farmer does. After this list is complete, have them list all of the things they would like to know. Possible questions may be about: planting, harvesting, caring for animals, etc. From this second list, have the students think of questions they can ask the guest speaker or the field trip tour guide. Have one student be the scribe and make a list of the class questions. This list can be used during the actual visit.This exposure to farming is particularly important for city students who may have not had any exposure to farming. You may also consider having other guest speakers come who are involved in other areas of food production and distribution (grocer, sales, orchard owner).

4. Writing extension- Have the students write a thank you note to the guest speaker or field trip tour guide. In the letter, they should include two new things that they learned.

5. Using the traces from activity #2, discuss all the jobs that make it possible for us to have a variety of foods (farmer, truck driver, grocer, seed or farm equipment salesman, etc.) and their responsiblities. Have the students divide a piece of paper into four squares. In each square they should write one of the jobs involved in food production and list the responsibilities that person holds. This information should come from the class discussion.


Evaluation:



 

And Still The Turtle Watched

Book Title: And Still The Turtle Watched
Author: Sheila MacGill-Callahan pictures by Barry Moser
Publisher and Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1991
Curriculum Developer: Taralee Alleman

 

Summary:

Long ago, the old man carved the shape of a turtle into a large rock. He said it had the eyes of Manitou and would watch over the Delaware people. As time passed, fewer and fewer people came to visit the rock. Strangers came and chopped the forest down. The turtle was vandalized with spray paint. One day a man found the rock and took it away to be cleaned. It is now displayed in the New York Botanical Garden for all to see.

 

Social Studies Relevance:

This book helps depict the effects that human insensitivity can have on our natural resources. This sensitive story can be used to discuss the respect that early people held for our earth and the importance of that quality today. Topics of responsible choices, consequences of our actions, conservation, and problem-solving can all be addressed.

 

Grade Level Focus:

3rd grade

 

Relationship to Social Studies State Core:


 

Be Kind to our Earth

Objectives:


Materials needed:


Preparation:


Procedures:

1. To prepare the students for the story, discuss a new vocabulary word: Manitou. Manitou is a supernatural spirit or force of nature in the religion of the Algonquian Indians. Before beginning the book, focus the students' attention by telling them to listen closely to how the people in the book treat the earth. Read And Still The Turtle Watched.

2. Discuss the book by creating a class list. On the board make two columns: Kind choices and Unkind choices. Fill in the columns with responses that the students share.

3. Experiment- Tell the children that there are some simple things we can do to preserve the earth's resources.

We need: One volunteer, one timer, one person to measure

What to do:

#1-The timer times for one minute as the volunteer puts toothpaste on the brush and brushes his/her teeth . Leave the water running for the entire minute. It should be running into the bucket to prevent it from going down the drain. The person assigned to measure then measures how many cups of water were used in that minute.

#2-Repeat this experiment except this time leave the water running only when the volunteer is using it.

#3-Compare the amount of water used in the two different trials and discuss this as a class.

This experiment works great for integration with math: How many cups in a gallon? How much water would be used in 3 minutes? But, it also proves an important point in social studies. Use this experiment to point out to the students that there are simple things that we can do, such as turning off the water when we brush our teeth, to help preserve our earth's resources.

4. Conservation Charades- Break the class into five groups. Place the card face down and allow each group to choose a charade card (recycle pop cans, turn off water, pick up litter, plant a tree, car pool). Give the groups time to plan what they are going to do to act out the conservation tip on their card for the class. Groups then take turns acting out their cards in front of the class until classmates from other groups are able to guess. When all groups have had a turn, discuss the conservation tip on each card and how they help save our resources.

5. Class project- Suggest to the children that we do something as a class to help preserve our earth's resources. Ideas for the project may include: recycling pop cans or newspapers, cleaning up litter on the school ground or at a local park, saving money to buy trees to plant, launching a campaign to save water . . . The possibilities are vast! Display the chart paper with the five problem solving steps. Use this model to guide the students through each step of planning the class project. Have the students write down the steps on a piece of paper and fill in each area with ideas generated by the class. This project can be on-going. It may be long term, but it will be worth it. It is important to allow the class to decide what they will do so they feel a sense of ownership. You may wish to talk about consensus during the planning of this project! Remember to follow through with the project, don't let it flop!


Evaluation

RETURN TO LITERATURE INDEX


Appendix

 

Sharing or Choosing Volunteers

It may be very beneficial to a have a popsicle stick with each child's name on it when it comes time to choose volunteers or students to share their ideas with the class. The teacher can draw a popsicle stick and allow the student whose name is called to respond. This eliminates a lot of commotion when time requires a limited number of responses or a certain number of volunteers. This method is fair for all students.

 


Works Cited

Comparing Communities, Grade 3, Silver Berdett Ginn, 1995