Make Room for Baby
The Lesson Plan
Book: Peter’s Chair
Themes: Sharing, Change, Feelings, Siblings
Subjects: Language Arts, Visual Arts
Students will be able to:
- make and confirm predictions
- identify and discuss elements of a story
- connect the story to a personal experience
- identify and discuss a range of feelings and behaviors
- discuss sharing and dealing with change
- chart paper and marker
- collage materials (wallpaper scraps, lace doilies, newspaper, etc.)
- 9×12-inch sheets of lightweight cardboard or oak tag
- housewares/furniture catalogues
- scissors and glue
- Discuss the students’ experiences with baby siblings, cousins or friends.
- Ask whether the students have had negative feelings relating to a new baby, such as jealousy of attention or not wanting to share. How did they behave when they felt jealous? (Young children are often unable to verbalize feelings, so you may consider having them role-play scenarios involving a baby or the possibility of a new baby in their family.)
- Discuss favorite toys—yours as well as the students’. Why did those toys mean so much? What happened to them? Talk about outgrowing your favorite toy, and ask the students about their own experiences.
- Starting with the book cover, examine the pictures and ask what the students think will happen in the story. Record their predictions on chart paper to check after reading the book.
- After reading each page, ask the children to formulate “I wonder” questions, modeling one yourself. For example:
- I wonder what Peter is feeling about everything getting painted pink.
- wonder why Peter takes his chair.
- I wonder how Peter feels when he can’t fit in the chair anymore.
- I wonder why Peter decides to play a trick on his mother?
- Ask if there is a “turning point” in the story when Peter’s feelings change. Locate the turning point together.
- Ask the students to compare their predictions with the story. Discuss the value of predictions when reading a story.
- Ask the students to recall the characters.
- Introduce the word and concept of setting. Ask for other examples of settings.
- Ask the children to identify the problem in the story.
- Have them identify the solution. Ask if they can think of different solutions for the problem in the story.
- Design a Dream Room
- Keats uses collage in the illustrations for Peter’s Chair. Have the class examine the book page by page to to identify the common materials he uses (such as wallpaper scraps, doilies and newspaper).
- Provide each student with a sheet of cardboard or oak tag, assorted collage materials and a catalogue. Explain the plan to design a room of their dreams. Let the students choose a point of view: inside the room, or outside looking in through a window or door. They will begin by gluing wallpaper scraps to the cardboard or paper to cover the entire surface.
- Next they will cut out items from the catalogue and arrange them on the wallpaper with glue. Have the children share their results. How many of the rooms have similar or identical elements? How are they different?
Why We Like It
The lesson plan lets the teacher build on the basic structure—reading, discussion, activity—to explore different levels of complexity (kindergarten through grade 3) and different ways to engage with the characters, story and themes. Choose discussion questions focusing on feelings, or story elements, or both. Add or substitute an alternate follow-up activity. Have the children share personal stories and be free to express both negative and positive feelings about their siblings. It’s a mix-and-match approach, in the spirit of Keats.
For second- and third-graders, add or substitute a creative writing project as a follow-up activity.
Care About Babies
- Invite the parent of a baby to visit the classroom. Have the children prepare questions in advance about taking care of a baby.
- After the Q&A session, ask the children to discuss ways they can help care for a baby. List these on chart paper.
- On another sheet, write the names of the students along with their baby siblings or relatives. Have the students write a brief story about the babies in their lives, incorporating the listed items. Have them share their stories with the class.
A Note to Teachers
- This lesson on Peter’s Chair is adapted from three separate plans, “Peter’s Chair Teaching Plan” (Scholastic); “Lesson Plans for Peter’s Chair,” by Kathy Hann (Easy Literacy); and “Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats” (Arkansas Department of Human Services).
- We combined their best features to create more opportunities for thoughtful discussion and engaging activities. Use the components that are right for your class.
- Special thanks to Miriam Pope.