November 19, 2012
Nov 19, 2012
This post originally appeared on the Engage/Teacher to Teacher blog in November 2011.

ONE IS A FEAST FOR A MOUSE: A THANKSGIVING TALE (Scholastic, 2008) Pre-K through Third Grade

ONE IS A FEAST FOR A MOUSE: A THANKSGIVING TALE is a story about the aftermath of a Thanksgiving dinner from the mouse’s point of view. The mouse comes out of his hiding place and surveys the left-overs from the family’s dinner. He chooses one green pea to be his feast and decides to give thanks for what he has to enjoy. He then looks further across the table and spots cranberries that look like jewels.

Of course he has to have one of those as well and balances it on top of the green pea. He then spots an olive and adds it to the pile and then a carrot stick. By the time he gets done crossing the table, he has a balanced mountain of food that is enough for several feasts. He turns to make his way back to his hiding place and meets face to face with the cat. Chaos ensues and the mouse gets safely to his hiding place.

In choosing to be greedy, the mouse nearly lost everything he had collected and his life. He, however, was pleasantly surprised when peeking out of his hiding place at the end of the story and was able to give thanks for a feast after all.

Cross-curricular Connections: Social Studies, Science, Reading, Art

Ideas for Classroom Use:

Balancing Objects (Pre-K through Third Grade)

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to use mathematical and physics skills to balance a number of objects. After reading the story, the teacher will go back through the book and lead a discussion based on the illustrations for the food the mouse has balanced. Lead a discussion about the reality of the mouse’s ability to balance these specific objects. Talk about gravity and center of balance to the level applicable to your student’s grade.

Encourage the students to use objects to find a number of items that will balance on each other and a number of items that will not. Some suggestions for available items are plastic cups, bowls, silverware, balls, small cars, small blocks, etc. After the experimental phase of balancing, have students discuss their findings about what is balanceable and what is not. Record findings on chart paper or in journals.

Feast of Imagination (PreK through Third Grade)

The purpose of this activity is to engage students’ imaginations in designing a feast for themselves. Have students focus on what would be a “just enough” feast. Review the story after reading to discuss how much the mouse thought was enough for a feast and then how much he attempted to collect. Discuss the differences between “needs” and “wants.” As a closing activity, have students design a multi-part picture by folding a paper in half. On one side of the paper, draw a picture of a “feast” that would be enough to be thankful for and meet the needs of a student. On the opposing side, have the students draw a picture of a feast of everything they would “want” like the mouse chose. Have the student dictate or write their thoughts on the pictures as appropriate to the grade level.

Feasts Around the World (Second through Third Grade)

After reading the story, discuss the traditional feast the family ate and compare it to the meager feast of the mouse. Discuss the difference between traditional American feasts and feasts of other cultures. In small groups assign the students to research different feasts from around the world online or in library books. Some suggestions for searching are Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, St. Lucia Day, Sukkot, La Posados, Diwali, etc. After the children have researched the feast day, have them illustrate and write information explaining their holiday. Have students present their findings to each other or to family, friends, and guests as part of a school feast.

Additional Resources and Activities:

Christmas Around the World

This website lists holiday celebrations by country and gives an explanation of each celebration. The site also includes links to activities, songs, and many other topics specific to Christmas around the world. The countries included here range from Japan to Croatia. The site has easy to understand explanations for how Christmas has been accepted or changed in different parts of the world.

Celebrate Winter Holidays

This is a Scholastic web resource for many holidays around the world. The focus of the page is on Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. The site provides activities, links to book lists, and explanations for each holiday. For each holiday, there is a teacher guide, links to online content, and student activities. This page would be a good starting place for learning about many different holidays.

Celebrations Around the World: A Multicultural Handbook (Fulcrum Publishing, 1996)

This book is a 236 page reference book for festivals and celebrations from countries around the world. The book begins with celebrations in January and looks at celebrations for each month in countries in all parts of the world. This book would be a great resource to help build multicultural understanding all year long and boost acceptance for student differences.

Kathy Prater is a reading specialist who works with students with dyslexia, an adjunct professor at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and a full time pre-kindergarten teacher at Starkville Academy in Starkville, Mississippi. Her passions include reading, writing, tending her flock of 15 chickens, and helping students at all levels to find motivation for lifelong reading and learning. She believes that every child can become a successful reader if given the right tools and encouragement.

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© 2011 Kathy Prater. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.

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