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Here’s a lesson idea I’ve used to teach the “beginning, middle and end” of a story, using Eric Carle’s The Tiny Seed.
- Gather your students together on the reading rug and read the story The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.
- After reading, post a folded piece of chart paper (folded into three vertical columns) on an easel for all of your students to view.
- Write “beginning” on the first column, “middle” on the next column, and “end” on the last column.
- Discuss with your students what they think this means. What are the “beginning”, “middle” and “end”? Try to think of other ways to describe this, apart from the story. For instance, an ant with three body segments. (You could even draw this out for them.) The head would be the beginning, the body would be the middle, and the last segment would be the end.
- Be sure to end this discussion of the concept in relation to a story’s beginning part, middle part and end.
- Now, tell the students that you are going to determine the beginning, middle and end of The Tiny Seed.
- Reread the story, stopping and discussing what may be the beginning, middle and end.
- After rereading, begin to fill in your folded chart. Allow the students to help you. Refer back to the book, flipping through the pages as you go, to demonstrate how the book can help refresh your memory and double check what you just read.
- Fill in the chart with a sentence for the beginning, a sentence for the middle and a sentence for the end. Allow the students to help you come up with what each should say.
- After determining the story’s beginning, middle and end, you then can add an illustration for each section.
- Again, allow the students to help you decide what to draw. Be sure to make it clear that your illustrations should match your words. Discuss what wouldn’t be appropriate. For example, if your sentence says, “The tiny seed traveled with the wind,” it wouldn’t be appropriate for your drawing to be of a unicorn on a rainbow. These drawings solidify two important reading strategies: summarizing and visualizing.
- After filling in the entire chart, have the students return to their desks or some other working space.
- Hand out sheets of tri-folded paper for your students to create a chart, just as they saw you do.
- Allow them to see yours as they create theirs. It’s alright if they just copy yours for now.
- Then, the next day, read a different book of your (or your students’) choice, and allow the students to create their own tri-folded beginning, middle, and end chart by themselves.
This activity could take several days to completely finish, according to your allotted time. This activity was created for first graders but can be modified accordingly to meet your students’ needs for any grade level in which this concept may need to be taught. It could be used to introduce writing a summary paragraph in older grades, for example.
Display the students’ charts around the room, and then congratulate yourself. You just planted “a tiny seed” of knowledge in each of your students!