Be a Problem Solver
The Lesson Plan
Book: The Trip
Themes: Loneliness, Imagination, Friendship
Subjects: Language Arts, Visual Arts
Students will be able to:
- identify the problem in a story and discuss how it is solved
- understand and feel empathy for charactes
- connect the story to a personal experience
- develop and share solutions to problems
Mapping the story
The lesson begins with a picture-walk through the book, followed by a reading and a discussion of the story’s problem and solution. List them on the Story Map Organizer. Next, introduce an interactive Problem and Solution Bulletin Board, which provides a transition from the story to personal problems a child might have. The board can be kept up all year, with solutions contributed at any time.
For a kindergarten or first-grade class, the Story Map Organizer can be on large chart paper on which you record the students’ responses. Second-graders should be able to work on individual story maps and share their ideas with the class. They can be posted on the Problem and Solution Bulletin Board immediately or in another session. The problems discussed may be typical for the age group or very individual, and all the children should be given the opportunity to share solutions.
Why We Like It
This lesson plan helps build interpersonal skills as well as reading skills, in clear, adaptable steps. Learning how to solve problems is a major step for young children; a child who might be new to school will find a kindred spirit in Louie. Louie is also a creative problem-solver, and relating to him can help motivate the children to become problem-solvers themselves.
Excerpts from Gayle’s conversation with Vanessa Udry about the lessons Keats teaches:
What about Keats’s books makes them relevant in the classroom? How do they advance the curriculum?
The characters in Keats’s books draw children in. I think they can relate to the characters’ imagination and problems. Important reading strategies can be applied with these books, such as making connections, asking questions and visualizing.
What are some of the most important lessons you have been able to teach through the Keats books?
I first began to teach students how to ask questions or wonder while reading these books. Keats’s respect for readers lets them figure out so much on their own and draw their own conclusions. The students get very excited when they realize that Peter is in many of the books. This leads to wonderful comparing and contrasting lessons.
When you apply this lesson plan to The Trip, how do the students respond to Louie? What do they think his problem and solution are?
My students can usually empathize with a child in a book feeling lonely, like Louie. Most children have felt this at some time and are terribly sympathetic. Students are always surprised and excited about Louie’s solution of creating his old neighborhood. There are usually a few art projects after reading The Trip—and possibly some new coping strategies, also.
A Note from Gayle
This lesson plan is adapted from “Creative Problem-Solving with Ezra Jack Keats,” a multi-session program by Vanessa Udry (ReadWriteThink). I have used it to design lessons for other books, and it would be an effective resource for an intensive author study as well.