Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reading Response: The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco

Since I am currently teaching my fifth grade students about the Holocaust, The Butterly by Patricia Polacco, was the perfect choice for an interactive read aloud.  If you haven't already noticed from previous posts, I happen to love ALL things Patricia Polacco.  As with most of her picture books, she draws on experiences from her own life to create beautifully illustrated children s books.  This book is great to use along with Number the Stars or the The Boy in the Striped Pajamas to build schema.  In this particular story, Polocco tells the story of her aunt, Monique, who grew up in France during World War II.  Monique discovers a Jewish girl named Sevrine who is being hidden in the basement by her mother.  The two girls become fast friends and play together a night so they can keep their friendship a secret.  Read the book to find out the rest!

There are several language arts skills you can teach after reading this book. Here are a few that I did with this lesson:

Compare & Contrast
Students can compare and contrast the characters using traits.  How are Sevrine and Monique alike?  How are they different?  Students can compile their information in a Venn diagram or by using a t-chart.  Students can compare the two girls lives.  What is Monique's life like during the Nazi invasion of France?  What is Sevrine's life like?  Students can use the information from their graphic organizers to create a paragraph.

Character Feelings & Emotions
Have students think about the feelings and emotions of Monique, Sevrine, and their mothers?  Create a list or web of descriptive words.  Encourage students to use synonyms for common words.  What are other words you can use for brave?  Scared?  etc... Have students write about why the characters feel this way and find evidence in the text to support their answer.    

Text-to-Self Connection
After thinking about how the characters were feeling, students can write about a time when they felt the same way.  

Story Elements
After you read the story, have students jot down story elements such as characters and their descriptions, setting details, problem/solution, and sequence main events from the story in their Interactive Reading Notebooks.  

In the story, the butterfly symbolizes freedom.  After reading the book, ask students to brainstorm ideas for what the butterfly might symbolize.  Discuss the significance of the butterfly and have them give examples of how it is used in the book to support the text.  

Ask students, "What is the moral message or lesson in this story?"  To determine the theme, students can ask themselves these questions:
1.  What did the characters learn?
2.  How did the characters grow or change?
3.  Why did the characters act this way?
Once students discover the theme of the story, have them provide evidence from the text to support it.

After reading The Butterfly, students competed a reading response. 

Here are some examples of student responses:

Here is a link to a list of more picture books about the Holocaust that you can share with your students:

More Picture Books

Happy Reading!

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