Extension and Engagement Extension and Engagement

Grade 4

Share these activities with your students before, during, or after the module to build engagement and invite interest in module texts and to extend students’ interest in the module topics and themes after reading.




Text(s): Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman by Monica Kullin

Social Justice: Song

Harriet Tubman devoted her life to fighting for freedom and equality for both African Americans and women in general.

  • Create a song that expresses Harriet Tubman’s dreams.

  • Then perform your song for the class

Visual Expression: Map of Underground Railroad

  • Research the Underground Railroad to discover some of the routes that enslaved people took to reach freedom.

  • Choose a major route to show on a map. You might highlight the route on a real map or on one that you create.

  • Use color or sticky flags to show whether each state along the route allowed people to be enslaved, was a free state, or a territory.

  • Indicate cities and any other important places along the route.

  • Present your map to the class.

Text(s):Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Performance Arts: Poetry Reading

  • Find and read other poems by a poet whose work is included at the back of Love That Dog.

  • Then choose one of the poems to deliver to the class.

  • Recite the poem in a heartfelt way that helps make the meaning clear.

Verbal Expression: Poem

  • Which of Jack’s poems do you like best? Find the poem at the back of the book that inspired it or is connected to it in some way.

  • Then write your own version of the poem.

Text(s): The Circulatory Story by Mary K. Corcoran

Performance Arts: Acting Out a Process

  • Work in a small group to act out one of the processes in the book.

  • Then share your performance with the class.

Verbal Expression: Postcards

  • Imagine that you are the little green creature in the book.

  • Write three postcards that the create might send to describe his travels inside the body.

Text(s): All Module Texts

Connecting Texts: Group Discussion

Revisit the “Quotations from the Heart” from Lesson 1. (See Handout: Heart Quotations.)

  • In a small group, discuss how each quotation connects to the different texts in the module.

  • Vote on the quotation that applies to the most texts.

  • Compare your results with those of other groups in the class.




Text(s): Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Content Connection: Science

Wilson Bentley’s photographs revealed that most snowflakes have a six-pointed design and that a snowflake is made up of one or more snow crystals. While no two snow crystals are alike, they have seven basic shapes. The shape of a crystal depends on how cold and moist the air is. You can see a diagram of these shapes at http://www.snowcrystals.com/morphology/morphology.html or search the Internet by “snow crystal diagram.”

  • Look for the shapes in the illustrations of snowflakes in Snowflake Bentley.

  • Jot down the shape or shapes you see in each snowflake. You might want to draw and label them.

  • Share your findings with the class.

Visual Expression: Snow Scene

Wilson Bentley saw great beauty in the snowy landscape of Vermont. Create a picture of a snow-covered tree to show this beauty.

  • Start with a blue piece of paper, or add blue around the tree at the end.

  • Use a brown crayon to draw the tree trunk and branches.

  • Use white paint to show snow on the top side of the branches.

  • Add snow on the ground around the tree.

  • Use glitter to make the snow sparkle.

Teaching Extension: Build Background Knowledge

Show Bentley’s snowflake photographs, also shown in a video (note that the title slide in the video misspells his name).

Text(s): “Hurricanes” from http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-hurricane.htm

Performance Arts: News Reports

Imagine that you are a news reporter telling about a hurricane for a TV or radio station. Work with a partner to create two brief news reports for a recent U. S. hurricane, such as Hurricane Harvey (2017 or Hurricane Sandy (2012).

  • Together research to find the facts. For example, where did the storm first form? What category of storm was it? Did that change when the storm reached land? What predictions were made about wind speeds and rain amounts? What happened when the storm reached land? What kinds of damage and problems happened?

  • Create two short news reports, one before the storm reaches land, and the other some time after it reaches land. Jot down notes to help you remember the facts.

  • Decide who will deliver each report.

  • Perform your weather reports for the class. Refer to your notes as needed.

Text(s): Extreme Weather by Ann O. Squire + “Hurricanes” from www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-hurricane.htm + “Hurricanes: Science and Society” from http://www.hurricanescience.org/society/risk/approachingstormprep/

NOTE: Teachers may want to preview stories for suitability to their students. The Content Connection activity should only be used after Checkpoint 2, as the articles referenced are used during that assessment.

Verbal Expression: Retelling a Story

In the years following Hurricane Katrina (2005), many survivors have shared their stories. For some, sharing has helped them recover from a terrible experience. These stories also help others understand both the events and the power of grit and optimism. Visit these sites and choose one of the stories to retell:

Content Connection: Social Studies

Before or after you read about hurricanes, learn more about the way communities survive these events. Use Hurricane Katrina as an example to decide some advice to give adults in your community.

Text(s): Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Visual Expression: Diorama

A diorama is a 3D model of an event or scene.

  • Choose an event or important moment from Hatchet.

  • Use the cover of a shoe box, colored paper, and markers or crayons to create a diorama showing the event or moment.

  • Make cardboard figures to represent any characters, animals, or important objects, such as the hatchet.

  • Include details that show the setting.

  • Share your diorama with classmates and have them identify the event or moment.

Verbal Expression: Survival Skills Discussion

In Hatchet, Brian finds himself alone in the wilderness with only his hatchet and a torn windbreaker. In this fictional work, Brian learns how to survive. Knowing beforehand the challenges of the wilderness and the skills needed for survival might have been helpful. What are the challenges and skills?

Text(s): All Module Texts

Performance Arts: Rap

The selections in this module explore nature’s power to destroy and also its great beauty.

  • Create a rap that reflects what you have discovered about nature and your own feelings.

  • Include details from the module texts in your rap.

  • Perform your rap for the class.




All Module Texts

Teaching Extension: Social Sensitivity (Racism, Enslavement)

Access and read tools to support teaching sensitive topics, such as:

Text(s): Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz

Verbal Expression: Monologue

According to Jean Fritz, when a phrase or sentence in one of her books is in quotation marks, it was actually made by the person. In Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? Fritz includes some sentences in quotation marks, but she does not use quotation mark for King George’s thoughts. Those she must have imagined.

  • Choose a section from the text in which Jean Fritz imagines some of King George’s thoughts:

    • pp. 33–34: King George’s belief in treating the colonists with a firm hand

    • p. 40: his feelings about the Americans rebelling against him

    • p. 145: his reactions to the English government’s decision to vote for peace

  • Imagine that George is thinking aloud.

  • Create a monologue to share these thoughts.

  • Share your monologue with a small group or the whole class.

Text(s): George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer

Visual Expression: Page Design

George vs. George uses text plus illustrations with speech balloons to describe the American Revolution. Create a page of a book for a younger student on the same subject, using a similar style.

  • Examine pages in the book to help you think about the style.

  • Decide which details are most important and which ones you can leave out.

  • Write the text with your audience in mind. Make sure the sentences are simple.

  • Include an illustration and speech balloons that will appeal to a younger child.

  • When your page is complete, share it with a child.

Content Areas: Social Studies

Movies and TV shows about the American Revolution often show the American soldiers ambushing the British from behind trees. Were tactics like these used often? Do research to learn more about revolutionary war methods, tactics, and tools.

Text(s): Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak by Kay Winters

Visual Expression: Diorama

In Colonial Voices, the Errand Boy leaves the printing shop and stops at many different places where people in colonial America work. In a shoe box, create a diorama, or 3D model, of one of the places.

  • Look at the illustrations in Colonial Voices to help you choose.

  • Decorate the shoe box using art materials.

  • Create figures out of modeling clay or cardboard.

  • At the back of the book, find out more about the person who works in the place you chose.

  • Share your diorama and some facts about the person with the class.

Performance Arts: Dressing Up

Imagine that you are one of the characters whose “voice” you hear in the book.

  • Create a costume for that person. Try to include an object such as a basket or newspaper, as part of your costume.

  • Practice reading aloud the poem spoken by that person.

  • Then wear the costume as you read the poem aloud to the class.

“Testimony of Captain Thomas Preston”
by Thomas Preston (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/bostonmassacre.htm)

“Massacre on King Street” by Mark Clemens from Cobblestone

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading. Adapt it according to when it is used and your student’s existing level of knowledge and learning from their module reading.

Teaching Extension: Rising Tensions in the Colonies

  • Review and/or expand students’ knowledge about

    • growing tension between the colonists and the British before the Boston Massacre.

    • the colonists’ reaction to the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act.

    • the meaning of “no taxation without representation.”

  • Recall and discuss that:

    • the colonists avoided British taxes and that in response, King George sent 700 soldiers to Boston. Ask: Why might seeing British soldiers on the street make some colonists angry?

    • British soldiers often misbehaved when they were off duty, and this made the colonists even angrier. Ask: Why do you think the colonists taunted the soldiers the night of the Boston Massacre? Elicit that they were a rowdy group, but they were also angry.

    • some colonists wanted to stay loyal to the British, while others wanted to start a revolution. Ask: Why might these colonists stretch the facts after the Boston Massacre?

Field Trip: The Old State House

The Boston Massacre took place in the square outside the Old State House in Boston, Massachusetts, which is the oldest surviving building in that city. This building now houses a museum, which you can visit or learn about online at hhttp://www.bostonhistory.org/

  • Visit online or in person the room where Governor Hutchinson and his council decided NOT to revolt after the Boston Massacre.

  • Learn about the process of making replicas of John Hancock’s clothing, and other efforts to preserve history.

  • Find out other facts about the Old State House.

  • Share what you learned with the class.

Text(s): Samuel’s Choice by Richard Berleth

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading

Teaching Extension: Slavery in America

Explain that the main character in Samuel’s Choice is an enslaved boy. To support students’ reading, share the following facts:

  • The first people enslaved from Africa were forced to come in 1619 to Jamestown, the earliest surviving European colony. Traders in Africa had kidnapped people, enslaved them, and sold them to Europeans, who were colonizing the New World.

  • By 1866, almost 400,000 people had been enslaved and forced against their will to come to North America. They were:

    • considered property and had no rights at all.

    • not allowed to learn to read and write.

    • treated harshly and often beaten, poorly fed, and forced to live in terrible conditions.

    • often separated from their families when owners sold a husband, wife, or child.

  • Plantations, or large farms, in the South relied on the unpaid labor of enslaved people. Samuel lived in the North, where at the time of the Revolutionary War, people were also enslaved.

  • Slavery was outlawed in northern states in 1840. It was finally made illegal throughout the United States in 1863.

Social Justice/Equality: Group Discussion

In Samuel’s Choice, old Toby, Sana, and the slaves in the kitchen have different opinions about the fight for liberty and whether they should get involved. Samuel must decide whether to help the American soldiers who are fleeing from the British. Discuss Samuel’s choice in a small group

  • Consider these questions:

    • How would you feel in Samuel’s position? What would you do?

    • Do you think that Samuel was right to get involved?

    • Would your feelings about Samuel’s choice be different if he had been returned to Farmer Isaac after the war?

  • Share your thoughts and feelings with members of your group.

Text(s): Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady

NOTE: For the Performance Arts: Dance activity, emphasize the experience of trying historical dances. Clarify that learning the exact steps and performing them accurately is not important.

Content Areas: Music

Music was important to the colonists just as it is today. During her walk from Amboy, Ellen finds strength in marching to the song “The Liberty Tree.” On her return trip by boat, she hears the sailors’ joyful singing and joins in. Work with a partner to research and sing one of these songs: “The Liberty Tree,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “The Revolutionary Tea.”

Social Justice/Equality: Poster on Bullying

Ellen’s grandfather says that Dicey is a bully who will back down if Ellen stands up for herself. Work with a small group to explore the topic of bullying.

  • Search the Internet by “stop bullies” or visit the following sites:

  • Find out what types of bullies there are and what kids should do to stop them.

  • Decide what kind of bully Dicey is and how Ellen finally stopped the bullying.

  • Create a poster about bullying and how to stop it.

  • Have your teacher help you hang the poster somewhere in your school.

Social Justice/Equality: Group Discussion

Ellen’s grandfather tells her to stand up for herself against Dicey, but Ellen’s mother seems to think that boys and girls should act differently. Ellen’s grandfather also thinks she should be able to take the secret message to New Jersey, while Ellen’s mother thinks it’s too dangerous for a girl. In a small group, discuss questions such as these:

  • Who was right—the mother or the grandfather?

  • Why does dressing up as a boy make Ellen move and feel differently?

  • Do you think people would treat Ellen differently if she were dressed as a girl?

  • How does the journey help Ellen discover her strength and courage?

  • Do you think that boys and girls are treated differently today? Why or why not?

  • If you answered yes to the previous question, do you think that is right? Why or why not?

Performance Arts: Dance

One way that Ellen’s grandfather makes fun of the British is by imitating the minuet, which was a popular dance in Europe during the 1700s. Wealthy colonists could hire teachers in order to learn the complicated steps. Country dances, which colonists also enjoyed, had much simpler steps.




Text(s): All Modules Texts

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading any or all of the module texts. Adapt it according to when it is used and your students’ existing level of knowledge and learning from their module reading.

Teaching Extension: Background on Ancient Greece and Its Culture

To help students understand the world and culture of the ancient Greeks, share the information below:

  • Explain that ancient Greece developed about 3000 years ago. The period of greatest achievement, however, was from about 500 to 300 BCE. This is about 2300 to 2500 years ago. During that time, people created the first democratic government. That period is also known for beautiful buildings, sculpture, literature, and artwork and for advances made by scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians.

  • Tell students Greece’s mountainous geography made it difficult for people to travel easily from one area to another. As a result, separate city-states grew with their own governments around 800 BCE. Athens and Sparta are two well-known city-states.

  • Search the Internet for a map of ancient Greece and one of modern Greece. Help students locate Athens and Sparta on both maps. Explain that Sparta is known for its great warriors and military discipline, while Athens is known for its great philosophers, writers, and artists and as the birthplace for democracy.

  • Share and then discuss videos that provide more detail:

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsOZujLI4X4&list=PLJuf9HnxGVrxQhBU5Y6OpmzqD1BaXkBW_
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ7cPAnO4po

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TesuQeX2cUo

Important points from the videos:

  • Ancient Greek culture has shaped our world in many important ways. Ideas about beauty, virtue, art, literature, science, and philosophy came from ancient Greece. It was also the birthplace of democracy, the type of government in which people rule themselves.

  • The ancient Greeks believed in gods and goddesses who have special powers but act like humans in many ways. They also have influence over nature and the actions of people.

  • The Greeks also believed in an underworld, where people go after death. Hades is the god of the underworld.

  • Greek beliefs about nature, the world, and morality were passed down through stories called myths. ancient Greece. The Iliad and The Odyssey, two long poems by the ancient Greek poet Homer also convey important ideas about morality, bravery, and the roles of gods and goddesses in human life. These famous poems were written some time between 900 BCE and 700 BCE.

  • Art, literature, music, and theater were important to ancient Greeks. Pottery and sculpture survive today as well as plays, stories, and poems.

  • Greek scientists and philosophers also made important advances to knowledge and thought.

  • The first Olympic Games were held by the Greeks. Athletes from different city-states competed in sports such as wrestling, boxing, and chariot racing. The Olympic Games held in honor of Zeus, the king of the gods.

Text(s): The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity provided for All Module Texts is ideal for background building prior to reading.

Performance Arts: Song or Rap

In the text, Aliki briefly introduces the gods and goddesses of Olympus. Create a song that tells about one of them.

  • Choose one of the gods and goddesses.

  • Imagine that you are the god or goddess? What kind of song or rap would you sing to tell about your personality and powers?

  • Think about the words and images in the text.

  • Make up words for your song or rap. Create a tune or beat, or use one you have heard.

  • Perform the song or rap for the class.

Verbal Expression: Oral Presentation of a Mythological Creature

The Greek myths are populated with gods, goddess, and human heroes as well as mythological creatures.

  • Choose one of the creatures listed below:

    • Pegasus: a white stallion with wings

    • Minotaur: a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man (The Lightning Thief)

    • Medusa: frightful monster with snakelike hair whose gaze could turn humans to stone (The Lightning Thief)

    • Centaurs: a creature that is half man and half horse

    • Chimaera/Chimera: a fire-breathing monster with the body of a lion, the head of a goat, and a snake’s head for a tail (The Lightning Thief)

    • Cerberus: a many-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the Underworld (The Lightning Thief, Greek Myth Plays, Gods and Goddesses)

    • Cyclops: a one-eyed monster

    • Hydra: a snake with many head

    • Nymph: a nature spirit or minor goddess of nature that usually appears as a beautiful young maiden (Greek Myth Plays)

  • Search the Internet by the creature’s name to learn about its role in one or more myths. You can also use the module texts that appear after some creature names to find information. Try the websites below if you need help:

  • Find images of the creature. Look for sculptures, paintings, and other images.

  • Read more about one of these creatures and share what you learn with the class.

Content Areas: Science

Many Greek myths tried to explain events in nature or human experience.

  • Choose a myth from this text or another in the module.

    • Demeter and Persephone: the origin of the seasons (Search: What causes the seasons to change?)

    • Zeus: thunder and bolts of lightning (Search: What causes thunder and lightning?)

    • Hypnos: hypnotizing people (Search: How does hypnosis work?)

  • Find out how science explains the event or experience.

  • Create a two-column chart that shows the two explanations side-by-side.

  • Share your chart with the class.

Text(s): Gifts from the Gods by Lise Lunge-Larsen

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity provided for All Module Texts may also be used before, during, or after reading this text.

Visual Expression: Collage

In Gifts from the Gods, you learned about the mythological origin of words such as arachnid, fate, fury, and hypnotize. Create a collage that shows the origin and how the word is now used.

  • Use images from the Internet and paintings or drawings you make.

  • Try to convey the feelings connected to the word and its use in the myth.

  • Include the word you’ve chosen and any related words.

  • Share your collage with the class, explaining how the images and colors help convey meaning. 

Text(s): Greek Myth Plays by Carol Pugliano-Martin

Visual Expression: Pandora’s Box

In Carol Pugliano-Martin’s version, Pandora’s box is described as beautiful on the outside. Inside are the world’s Miseries.

  • Decorate the outside of a shoe box, making sure to include the cover. The outside should make someone want to look inside!

  • Create your own version of the world’s miseries, and put them inside the box. You can use some of the words from the play and add your own. You can write sentences and draw images.

  • Think about what you might include for comfort. Put hope in the box, but add to it as well.

  • Share your box with a friend.

Content Areas: Music

Orpheus plays a lyre, an ancient instrument similar to a harp. His music is so beautiful that it even touches the heart of Hades.

Text(s): The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Performance Arts: Acting Out a Scene

Work with a partner or small-group to act out a scene from The Lighting Thief.

  • Choose a scene that is dramatic in some way.

  • Decide who will play each part.

  • Practice the scene several times.

  • Perform it for the class.

Content Areas: History

Chiron tells Percy that the gods have caused many events in history. Work with a partner to create a story that uses mythological characters to explain the cause of a real event.

  • Together choose an event from history or a recent natural disaster, such as a particular hurricane.

  • Brainstorm possible conflicts between mythological characters, and choose one.

  • Together decide what the characters did to cause the real event.

  • Share your story with the class.

Text(s): All Module Texts

Social Justice/Gender and Equality: Small-Group Discussion

Zeus was the king of the gods, but the other gods and goddesses also had important powers. In a small group, discuss questions of power in the myths.

  • Review the traits and abilities of the gods and goddesses described in The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus.

  • Think about some of the myths you have read. Which god or goddess has the most power? Was it a male or female god? Do males and females seem equal in power?

  • Zeus is not all powerful, but he was still king of the gods. Imagine that your group can choose a new king or queen of Olympus. Which god or goddess would you choose?

  • Share your ideas with the class.

Content Areas: Art

Since ancient times, artists have shown Prometheus in their works. On p. 73 of The Lightning Text, Chiron tells Percy to look at the statue of Prometheus in Rockefeller Center.




Text(s): Arthur of Albion by John Matthews

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading. Adapt it according to when it is used and your student’s existing level of knowledge and learning from their module reading.

Teaching Extension: Build Background about Feudal Society

  • Share this information about the Middle Ages and feudal society:

    • The period of history known as the Middle Ages (or Medieval Times) lasted from about 500 C.E. until about 1500 C.E. That means it lasted about 1,000 years and ended more than 500 years ago. (You may want to draw a timeline to illustrate the time relationships.)

    • During the Middle Ages, most of Europe was governed by a feudal system. In this system, societies were organized around large areas of land.

    • The most powerful person was the king, who owned a large area of land. His loyal soldiers were knights, who promised loyalty to him. They also had a code of chivalry—a set of rules—that said they would act with honor, courage, fairness, respect for women, and concern for the weak and powerless.

    • The next powerful people were the nobles (or lords). In exchange for their loyalty, the king gave them land and titles, such as duke, count, and baron. Land and titles were passed down from one generation to the next.

    • Those who worked a noble’s land were peasants or serfs. Serfs could not work for anyone else’s land but had more rights than slaves.

  • Share information about King Arthur.

    • According to legends, Arthur was a king in England in the 500s. No one knows for sure if he really lived.

    • The stories about Arthur and his knights were passed down orally at first. Then in the 1100s, various accounts were written down. The stories in Arthur of Albion come from these accounts.

Verbal Expression: Code of Chivalry

The knights promised loyalty to the king and also promised to obey a code of chivalry. The code was a set of rules about how to behave and what character traits were important. Some important character traits were fairness, generosity, bravery, honor, courtesy, and loyalty. Work with a partner to create a code of behavior that would be appropriate for young people today.

  • For each character trait, list examples of actions to perform or avoid.

  • Share your code of behavior with the class.

Visual Expression: Coat of Arms

In the Middle Ages, a knight would have a coat of arms as a sign of honor. It might appear on his shield or banner. Colors and animals that had a special meaning to the knight were often included. Draw a shield with a coat of arms for one of Arthur’s knights.

  • Cut the shape of a shield out of poster board.

  • Choose one of the knights that you read about.

  • Think about what you learned about him.

  • Decide what to include in the design. Include some kind of motto or phrase for the knight.

  • Share your shield with the class. Explain the meaning of the design and words.

Text(s): Barbarians by Steven Kroll

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for building background prior to reading.

Teaching Extension: Build Background about the Roman Empire

Share this information about the Middle Ages and the Roman Empire:

  • The Middle Ages began in 476 C.E., with the end of the Roman Empire. (See Build Background for Arthur of Albion for more information about the Middle Ages.)

  • For more than 400 years, the Roman Empire controlled much of western Europe, lands near the Mediterranean Sea, and large areas of northern Africa.

  • The Roman Empire had many great ideas and achievements, and thought other cultures were less civilized. That’s why they called them barbarians.

  • Eventually, the empire became too big to protect itself from rebels and invaders. First, it divided into two smaller empires and eventually it collapsed entirely. That set the stage for many other groups to control land.

Performance Arts: Act Out Scenes

The Goths tried many times to make agreements with the Romans, but the Romans broke their promises each time. Work with a group to act out scenes that might have taken place.

  • Read these sections from the chapter about the Goths that shows one of the negotiations and betrayals.

    • p. 10: Tervengi and Valens

    • p. 13: Theodosius and the Goths

    • p. 13: Theodosius and Alaric

  • Imagine the conversations and arguments that took place.

  • Decide what part each student will play. You may include additional Romans and Goths and invent dialogue that might have occurred within each group.

  • Practice your scenes.

  • Then perform them for the class.

Verbal Expression: Group Discussion

You have read about the Goths, Huns, Vikings, and Mongols—all of whom were described as barbarians by the Greeks and Romans.

  • Together decide what values and behavior should be considered “civilized.”

  • Discuss each group’s way of life, behaviors, and actions. Consider the motivations for their actions.

  • Then evaluate the groups from one to four, with four being most civilized.

  • Share your results with the class.

Text(s): Traveling Man by James Rumford


  • The first Teaching Extension activity is ideal for background building prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading. Invite any Muslim students to share what they know about their culture and religion.

  • Use the second Teaching Extension before reading the text in order to clarify the structure of each spread in the text.

Teaching Extension: Build Background about Islam

Explain that Traveling Man describes the places where a Moroccan man named Ibn Battuta traveled in the 1300s, during a period known as the Middle Ages. (See Build Background for Arthur of Albion for more information about the Middle Ages.)

  • Share that Ibn Battuta was Muslim and followed these beliefs and practices:

    • Muslims believe that an angel spoke to a man named Mohammed and made him a prophet, a person who tells messages from God. These messages form the basis of Islam, the Muslim religion, and of the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book. According to the Qur’an, Moses and Jesus were also prophets, and Islamic teaching includes some stories from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles.

    • All Muslims are supposed to go to the city of Mecca at least once in their lives, to visit an important holy place called the Kaaba. Mecca is the city where Muhammad was born. It is the modern country of Saudi Arabia.

    • Muslims are also required to pray five times a day, donate to charity, treat others with kindness, fast during the holy month of Ramadan, and avoid alcohol and certain foods.

    • A mosque is the Muslim house of worship. A minaret is a tower on a mosque.

    • There are different Islamic groups, just as there are in Christianity and Judaism, and they interpret some parts of Islam differently. For example, jihad, which in Arabic means “to make an effort or to struggle,” is interpreted by most Muslims as referring to the struggle for inner holiness. A few extreme groups interpret jihad as an external struggle against those who don’t believe in Islam.

  • Explain that during the Middle Ages, Islam spread to lands around the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa, what is now called the Arabian Peninsula, and east into Asia.

  • Use the map near the end of the book to familiarize students with geography in the regions Ibn Battuta visited.

    • Explain that the map uses modern country names and shows Ibn Battuta’s travels.

    • Elicit students’ ideas about places that are not shown. (North America, South America, Canada, the Arctic Circle, Antarctica)

    • Ask: What is the eastern edge of the world shown on the map? What is the western edge? (The eastern edge is China. The western edge is Africa.) Explain that these are terms used in the book to describe the known world, because some people didn’t yet know about places like North America and South America.

    • Continue to reference the map during reading in order to point out places as they are named in the text.

  • Also point out the map on the title page, which was made in the 1300s when the book takes place. Ask: Why might the mapmaker have put Jerusalem in the center? (It was an important place for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It was also near the center of the known universe.)

  • Familiarize yourself with the glossary, and help students use it to define unfamiliar terms as they read: roc (mythic bird), Zanj (shown as Zanzibar and East Africa on map), Persia (old name for Iran), plague (bubonic plague or Black Death, which killed millions during Middle Ages).

Teaching Extension: Structure of Text

  • The structure of the text may confuse students. Before reading begins, flip through the pages and introduce text elements.

    • Point out the main text block on most spread and the sentences that run across many of the spreads. Explain that these sentences connect the places in the book, just as the roads connected the places Ibn Battuta traveled.

    • Point out the large illustrations and the labels that appear with them and with small spot art in the borders.

    • Direct attention to the Arabic, Persian, and Chinese calligraphy in the margins. (The phrases are translated on the page with the map near the end of the book.)

    • Point out the gold borders on many of the pages. Explain that the page design was inspired by illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. These handwritten texts were often decorated with gold borders, fancy lettering, and illustrations. Some pages also look like Persian paintings from the same time period.

    • Search the Internet by images of illuminated texts and by Persian miniatures. Share examples with students.

Cultural/Community Connections: Page Design

Ibn Battuta traveled to far-off places that opened his eyes and taught him a lot. Think of a time when you have learned something new outside of your home. Maybe you traveled to a new place. Or maybe you just left your home to visit a neighbor or friend and learned something new. Create one or two page spreads like those in the book to tell where you went and what you learned.

  • Fold a sheet of paper in half and hold it so that two pages face each other.

  • Include text, an illustration, and a path with words. You may also want to include spot art with labels.

  • Share your page spread with the class.

Content Areas: Foreign Languages

The author writes phrases in some of the margins, using Arabic, Persian, and Chinese calligraphy.

  • Read the translated phrases on the page with the map near the end of the book.

  • Choose one of the phrases, and find the page in the book that includes it.

  • Copy the calligraphy on a sheet of paper, using a black pen. Then write the translation near it.

  • Share your phrase with the class.

Text(s): Kubla Khan by Kathleen Krull

NOTE: The Teaching Extension activity is ideal for building background prior to reading, but can also be used to extend student interest during and after reading. Adapt it according to when it is used and your student’s existing level of knowledge and learning from their module reading.

Teaching Extension: Build Background about Culture

  • Share this information about Mongolian and Chinese cultures and the concept of conquering.

    • In Mongolia, the rocky soil, short growing season, and harsh temperatures made life difficult and farming almost impossible.

    • As a result, the Mongolians relied on animals for food, clothing, and shelter. They lived a nomadic life, which means they moved from place to place so their animals could graze.

    • Each Mongolian tribe had its own khan, or leader, and tribal leaders fought one another until Genghis Khan united the tribes in 1206. (Genghis Khan was Kubla Khan’s grandfather.) The Mongolians who had always been fierce warriors became an unbeatable force. They attacked villages and conquered other people in order to gain wealth.

    • In contrast, the Chinese had developed rich farmland, cities, arts, and sciences.

Visual Expression: Poster

Kubla Khan improved the safety of the Silk Road, the major land trade route between Europe and China. Create a poster that tells about this important route.

Content Areas: Social Studies

There was very little scientific learning in Europe during the Middle Ages. However, the spread of Islam brought great advances in science, mathematics, and medicine, and so on. That’s why Kubla Kahn invited Muslim doctors to his court—they were the most advanced of the time!