Sep 20

Concept Webs – A Teaching Strategy

Concept Webs – A Teaching Strategy

 

Since the human brain processes visuals much faster than text, using concept webs is an important learning strategy for students.

What is a Concept Web?

Concept webs are visual diagrams that connect abstract ideas. Students use these to connect prior knowledge and experiences to new information.

To create a concept web, draw a central circle. Inside this circle, write a general question or main concept. Draw connecting lines from the main concept to related ideas that radiate from this circle.

When to Use Concept Webs

A concept web may be used for many purposes. Lessons that introduce a subject of study to even studying for an exam work well. Any time learners need to define thoughts, concept webs may be used. 

Concept webs are a great way for students to prove understanding of a topic. In the example below, the concept web summarizes the ways Brian Robeson was able to survive in the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

Using Concept Webs help students organize information.

Why use a Concept Web?

A concept web helps learners in many ways:

  • brainstorming to form new ideas

  • connect information

  • identify and understand subject matter

  • better retention of the material

  • generalize information by making connections

  • communicate information to others

  • integrate new concepts to details already know

Give Concept Webs a Try

In this free download, I have included two examples. First is the Hatchet example from the post. A second concept web featuring “The Star-Spangled Banner” is also included. The handout contains the following:

  • Hatchet Concept Web and Answer Key
  • a short article from Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans — This article explains the circumstances Francis Scott Key was in when he wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
  • Ten Interesting Facts about The Star-Spangled Banner
  • lyrics
  • “Star-Spangled Banner” Concept Web and Answer Key

 

 

Free Concept Web Printables

Gay Miller

Sep 18

The Secret Garden – Chapter 9 The Strangest House Any One Ever Lived In

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 9

 

The audio file for Chapter 9 “The Strangest House Any One Ever Lived In” is 16 minutes 37 seconds in length.

Handouts

 

The Secret Garden

Chapter 9

The Strangest House Any One Ever Lived In

It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they were matted together. Mary Lennox knew they were roses because she had seen a great many roses in India. All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rosebushes if they were alive. There were numbers of standard roses which had so spread their branches that they were like little trees. There were other trees in the garden, and one of the things which made the place look strangest and loveliest was that climbing roses had run all over them and swung down long tendrils which made light swaying curtains, and here and there they had caught at each other or at a far-reaching branch and had crept from one tree to another and made lovely bridges of themselves. There were neither leaves nor roses on them now and Mary did not know whether they were dead or alive, but their thin gray or brown branches and sprays looked like a sort of hazy mantle spreading over everything, walls, and trees, and even brown grass, where they had fallen from their fastenings and run along the ground. It was this hazy tangle from tree to tree which made it all look so mysterious. Mary had thought it must be different from other gardens which had not been left all by themselves so long; and indeed it was different from any other place she had ever seen in her life.

“How still it is!” she whispered. “How still!”

Then she waited a moment and listened at the stillness. The robin, who had flown to his treetop, was still as all the rest. He did not even flutter his wings; he sat without stirring, and looked at Mary.

“No wonder it is still,” she whispered again. “I am the first person who has spoken in here for ten years.”

She moved away from the door, stepping as softly as if she were afraid of awakening some one. She was glad that there was grass under her feet and that her steps made no sounds. She walked under one of the fairy-like gray arches between the trees and looked up at the sprays and tendrils which formed them. “I wonder if they are all quite dead,” she said. “Is it all a quite dead garden? I wish it wasn’t.”

If she had been Ben Weatherstaff she could have told whether the wood was alive by looking at it, but she could only see that there were only gray or brown sprays and branches and none showed any signs of even a tiny leaf-bud anywhere.

But she was inside the wonderful garden and she could come through the door under the ivy any time and she felt as if she had found a world all her own.

The sun was shining inside the four walls and the high arch of blue sky over this particular piece of Misselthwaite seemed even more brilliant and soft than it was over the moor. The robin flew down from his tree-top and hopped about or flew after her from one bush to another. He chirped a good deal and had a very busy air, as if he were showing her things. Everything was strange and silent and she seemed to be hundreds of miles away from any one, but somehow she did not feel lonely at all. All that troubled her was her wish that she knew whether all the roses were dead, or if perhaps some of them had lived and might put out leaves and buds as the weather got warmer. She did not want it to be a quite dead garden. If it were a quite alive garden, how wonderful it would be, and what thousands of roses would grow on every side!

Her skipping-rope had hung over her arm when she came in and after she had walked about for a while she thought she would skip round the whole garden, stopping when she wanted to look at things. There seemed to have been grass paths here and there, and in one or two corners there were alcoves of evergreen with stone seats or tall moss-covered flower urns in them.

As she came near the second of these alcoves she stopped skipping. There had once been a flowerbed in it, and she thought she saw something sticking out of the black earth—some sharp little pale green points. She remembered what Ben Weatherstaff had said and she knelt down to look at them.

“Yes, they are tiny growing things and they might be crocuses or snowdrops or daffodils,” she whispered.

She bent very close to them and sniffed the fresh scent of the damp earth. She liked it very much.

“Perhaps there are some other ones coming up in other places,” she said. “I will go all over the garden and look.”

She did not skip, but walked. She went slowly and kept her eyes on the ground. She looked in the old border beds and among the grass, and after she had gone round, trying to miss nothing, she had found ever so many more sharp, pale green points, and she had become quite excited again.

“It isn’t a quite dead garden,” she cried out softly to herself. “Even if the roses are dead, there are other things alive.”

She did not know anything about gardening, but the grass seemed so thick in some of the places where the green points were pushing their way through that she thought they did not seem to have room enough to grow. She searched about until she found a rather sharp piece of wood and knelt down and dug and weeded out the weeds and grass until she made nice little clear places around them.

“Now they look as if they could breathe,” she said, after she had finished with the first ones. “I am going to do ever so many more. I’ll do all I can see. If I haven’t time today I can come tomorrow.”

She went from place to place, and dug and weeded, and enjoyed herself so immensely that she was led on from bed to bed and into the grass under the trees. The exercise made her so warm that she first threw her coat off, and then her hat, and without knowing it she was smiling down on to the grass and the pale green points all the time.

The robin was tremendously busy. He was very much pleased to see gardening begun on his own estate. He had often wondered at Ben Weatherstaff. Where gardening is done all sorts of delightful things to eat are turned up with the soil. Now here was this new kind of creature who was not half Ben’s size and yet had had the sense to come into his garden and begin at once.

Mistress Mary worked in her garden until it was time to go to her midday dinner. In fact, she was rather late in remembering, and when she put on her coat and hat, and picked up her skipping-rope, she could not believe that she had been working two or three hours. She had been actually happy all the time; and dozens and dozens of the tiny, pale green points were to be seen in cleared places, looking twice as cheerful as they had looked before when the grass and weeds had been smothering them.

“I shall come back this afternoon,” she said, looking all round at her new kingdom, and speaking to the trees and the rose-bushes as if they heard her.

Then she ran lightly across the grass, pushed open the slow old door and slipped through it under the ivy. She had such red cheeks and such bright eyes and ate such a dinner that Martha was delighted.

“Two pieces o’ meat an’ two helps o’ rice puddin’!” she said. “Eh! mother will be pleased when I tell her what th’ skippin’-rope’s done for thee.”

In the course of her digging with her pointed stick Mistress Mary had found herself digging up a sort of white root rather like an onion. She had put it back in its place and patted the earth carefully down on it and just now she wondered if Martha could tell her what it was.

“Martha,” she said, “what are those white roots that look like onions?”

“They’re bulbs,” answered Martha. “Lots o’ spring flowers grow from ’em. Th’ very little ones are snowdrops an’ crocuses an’ th’ big ones are narcissuses an’ jonquils and daffydowndillys. Th’ biggest of all is lilies an’ purple flags. Eh! they are nice. Dickon’s got a whole lot of ’em planted in our bit o’ garden.”

“Does Dickon know all about them?” asked Mary, a new idea taking possession of her.

“Our Dickon can make a flower grow out of a brick walk. Mother says he just whispers things out o’ th’ ground.”

“Do bulbs live a long time? Would they live years and years if no one helped them?” inquired Mary anxiously.

“They’re things as helps themselves,” said Martha. “That’s why poor folk can afford to have ’em. If you don’t trouble ’em, most of ’em’ll work away underground for a lifetime an’ spread out an’ have little ‘uns. There’s a place in th’ park woods here where there’s snowdrops by thousands. They’re the prettiest sight in Yorkshire when th’ spring comes. No one knows when they was first planted.”

“I wish the spring was here now,” said Mary. “I want to see all the things that grow in England.”

She had finished her dinner and gone to her favorite seat on the hearth-rug.

“I wish—I wish I had a little spade,” she said. “Whatever does tha’ want a spade for?” asked Martha, laughing. “Art tha’ goin’ to take to diggin’? I must tell mother that, too.”

Mary looked at the fire and pondered a little. She must be careful if she meant to keep her secret kingdom. She wasn’t doing any harm, but if Mr. Craven found out about the open door he would be fearfully angry and get a new key and lock it up forevermore. She really could not bear that.

“This is such a big lonely place,” she said slowly, as if she were turning matters over in her mind. “The house is lonely, and the park is lonely, and the gardens are lonely. So many places seem shut up. I never did many things in India, but there were more people to look at—natives and soldiers marching by—and sometimes bands playing, and my Ayah told me stories. There is no one to talk to here except you and Ben Weatherstaff. And you have to do your work and Ben Weatherstaff won’t speak to me often. I thought if I had a little spade I could dig somewhere as he does, and I might make a little garden if he would give me some seeds.”

Martha’s face quite lighted up.

“There now!” she exclaimed, “if that wasn’t one of th’ things mother said. She says, ‘There’s such a lot o’ room in that big place, why don’t they give her a bit for herself, even if she doesn’t plant nothin’ but parsley an’ radishes? She’d dig an’ rake away an’ be right down happy over it.’ Them was the very words she said.”

“Were they?” said Mary. “How many things she knows, doesn’t she?”

“Eh!” said Martha. “It’s like she says: ‘A woman as brings up twelve children learns something besides her A B C. Children’s as good as ‘rithmetic to set you findin’ out things.'”

“How much would a spade cost—a little one?” Mary asked.

“Well,” was Martha’s reflective answer, “at Thwaite village there’s a shop or so an’ I saw little garden sets with a spade an’ a rake an’ a fork all tied together for two shillings. An’ they was stout enough to work with, too.”

“I’ve got more than that in my purse,” said Mary. “Mrs. Morrison gave me five shillings and Mrs. Medlock gave me some money from Mr. Craven.”

“Did he remember thee that much?” exclaimed Martha.

“Mrs. Medlock said I was to have a shilling a week to spend. She gives me one every Saturday. I didn’t know what to spend it on.”

“My word! that’s riches,” said Martha. “Tha’ can buy anything in th’ world tha’ wants. Th’ rent of our cottage is only one an’ threepence an’ it’s like pullin’ eye-teeth to get it. Now I’ve just thought of somethin’,” putting her hands on her hips.

“What?” said Mary eagerly.

“In the shop at Thwaite they sell packages o’ flower-seeds for a penny each, and our Dickon he knows which is th’ prettiest ones an’ how to make ’em grow. He walks over to Thwaite many a day just for th’ fun of it. Does tha’ know how to print letters?” suddenly.

“I know how to write,” Mary answered.

Martha shook her head.

“Our Dickon can only read printin’. If tha’ could print we could write a letter to him an’ ask him to go an’ buy th’ garden tools an’ th’ seeds at th’ same time.”

“Oh! you’re a good girl!” Mary cried. “You are, really! I didn’t know you were so nice. I know I can print letters if I try. Let’s ask Mrs. Medlock for a pen and ink and some paper.”

“I’ve got some of my own,” said Martha. “I bought ’em so I could print a bit of a letter to mother of a Sunday. I’ll go and get it.” She ran out of the room, and Mary stood by the fire and twisted her thin little hands together with sheer pleasure.

“If I have a spade,” she whispered, “I can make the earth nice and soft and dig up weeds. If I have seeds and can make flowers grow the garden won’t be dead at all—it will come alive.”

She did not go out again that afternoon because when Martha returned with her pen and ink and paper she was obliged to clear the table and carry the plates and dishes downstairs and when she got into the kitchen Mrs. Medlock was there and told her to do something, so Mary waited for what seemed to her a long time before she came back. Then it was a serious piece of work to write to Dickon. Mary had been taught very little because her governesses had disliked her too much to stay with her. She could not spell particularly well but she found that she could print letters when she tried. This was the letter Martha dictated to her: “My Dear Dickon:

This comes hoping to find you well as it leaves me at present. Miss Mary has plenty of money and will you go to Thwaite and buy her some flower seeds and a set of garden tools to make a flower-bed. Pick the prettiest ones and easy to grow because she has never done it before and lived in India which is different. Give my love to mother and every one of you. Miss Mary is going to tell me a lot more so that on my next day out you can hear about elephants and camels and gentlemen going hunting lions and tigers.

“Your loving sister,
Martha Phoebe Sowerby.”

“We’ll put the money in th’ envelope an’ I’ll get th’ butcher boy to take it in his cart. He’s a great friend o’ Dickon’s,” said Martha.

“How shall I get the things when Dickon buys them?”

“He’ll bring ’em to you himself. He’ll like to walk over this way.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Mary, “then I shall see him! I never thought I should see Dickon.”

“Does tha’ want to see him?” asked Martha suddenly, for Mary had looked so pleased.

“Yes, I do. I never saw a boy foxes and crows loved. I want to see him very much.”

Martha gave a little start, as if she remembered something. “Now to think,” she broke out, “to think o’ me forgettin’ that there; an’ I thought I was goin’ to tell you first thing this mornin’. I asked mother—and she said she’d ask Mrs. Medlock her own self.”

“Do you mean—” Mary began.

“What I said Tuesday. Ask her if you might be driven over to our cottage some day and have a bit o’ mother’s hot oat cake, an’ butter, an’ a glass o’ milk.”

It seemed as if all the interesting things were happening in one day. To think of going over the moor in the daylight and when the sky was blue! To think of going into the cottage which held twelve children!

“Does she think Mrs. Medlock would let me go?” she asked, quite anxiously.

“Aye, she thinks she would. She knows what a tidy woman mother is and how clean she keeps the cottage.”

“If I went I should see your mother as well as Dickon,” said Mary, thinking it over and liking the idea very much. “She doesn’t seem to be like the mothers in India.”

Her work in the garden and the excitement of the afternoon ended by making her feel quiet and thoughtful. Martha stayed with her until tea-time, but they sat in comfortable quiet and talked very little. But just before Martha went downstairs for the tea-tray, Mary asked a question.

“Martha,” she said, “has the scullery-maid had the toothache again today?”

Martha certainly started slightly.

“What makes thee ask that?” she said.

“Because when I waited so long for you to come back I opened the door and walked down the corridor to see if you were coming. And I heard that far-off crying again, just as we heard it the other night. There isn’t a wind today, so you see it couldn’t have been the wind.”

“Eh!” said Martha restlessly. “Tha’ mustn’t go walkin’ about in corridors an’ listenin’. Mr. Craven would be that there angry there’s no knowin’ what he’d do.”

“I wasn’t listening,” said Mary. “I was just waiting for you—and I heard it. That’s three times.”

“My word! There’s Mrs. Medlock’s bell,” said Martha, and she almost ran out of the room.

“It’s the strangest house any one ever lived in,” said Mary drowsily, as she dropped her head on the cushioned seat of the armchair near her. Fresh air, and digging, and skipping-rope had made her feel so comfortably tired that she fell asleep.

 

Gay Miller

Sep 14

Using Animated Shorts to Teach Summarizing

Using Animated Shorts to Teach
Summarizing

Free Printables to Use with Animated Shorts (Summarizing)

If you are looking to add some high interest activities to your lessons, try using animated shorts to teach reading skills. This post contains the animated short “Peck Pocketed” found on Youtube and inserted in this post. You can also download a handout containing a graphic organizer to help students write a “Somebody Wanted But So” statement.

Animated Short

Peck Pocketed [2:19]

A bird sees a luxury home in a magazine. He dreams of having a home just like the one in the photo, so he begins to steal items from a lady who is napping on a park bench to decorate his home.

Handout

This post is a sample from my new product “Using Animated Short Films to Teach Reading Skills.” Each month one additional post from this series will go live. You can find the links and post dates listed below.

Each post will contain one animated short with a printable handout. You can collect all ten by coming back each month.

In the full resource, available on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will receive not only the handouts from these ten posts but forty-two additional printables.

Using  the summarizing printables, students will practice summarizing using different methods including:

  • Timeline
  • Somebody Wanted But So
  • Who What When Where Why and Result
  • Plot Development Roller Coaster Model

The printables contain organizers with guiding questions to help students evaluate the short film and learn valuable reading skills. All short films will be added to a webpage on Book Units Teacher for easy access. The link to this webpage will be included in the purchased product.

Check out the products on Teachers Pay Teachers:

Teaching Reading and Writing Skills with Animated Short Films [Printable]

Teaching Reading and Writing Skills with Animated Short Films [Google + Printable]

Posts from this Series

 

Gay Miller

Sep 11

The Secret Garden – Chapter 8 The Robin Who Showed the Way

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 8

 

The audio file for Chapter 8 “The Robin Who Showed the Way” is 14 minutes 44 seconds in length.

 

Handouts

 

The Secret Garden

Chapter 8

The Robin Who Showed the Way

The Secret Garden Chapter 8 - Story and Printable Worksheets

She looked at the key quite a long time. She turned it over and over, and thought about it. As I have said before, she was not a child who had been trained to ask permission or consult her elders about things. All she thought about the key was that if it was the key to the closed garden, and she could find out where the door was, she could perhaps open it and see what was inside the walls, and what had happened to the old rose-trees. It was because it had been shut up so long that she wanted to see it. It seemed as if it must be different from other places and that something strange must have happened to it during ten years. Besides that, if she liked it she could go into it every day and shut the door behind her, and she could make up some play of her own and play it quite alone, because nobody would ever know where she was, but would think the door was still locked and the key buried in the earth. The thought of that pleased her very much.

Living as it were, all by herself in a house with a hundred mysteriously closed rooms and having nothing whatever to do to amuse herself, had set her inactive brain to working and was actually awakening her imagination. There is no doubt that the fresh, strong, pure air from the moor had a great deal to do with it. Just as it had given her an appetite, and fighting with the wind had stirred her blood, so the same things had stirred her mind. In India she had always been too hot and languid and weak to care much about anything, but in this place she was beginning to care and to want to do new things. Already she felt less “contrary,” though she did not know why.

She put the key in her pocket and walked up and down her walk. No one but herself ever seemed to come there, so she could walk slowly and look at the wall, or, rather, at the ivy growing on it. The ivy was the baffling thing. Howsoever carefully she looked she could see nothing but thickly growing, glossy, dark green leaves. She was very much disappointed. Something of her contrariness came back to her as she paced the walk and looked over it at the tree-tops inside. It seemed so silly, she said to herself, to be near it and not be able to get in. She took the key in her pocket when she went back to the house, and she made up her mind that she would always carry it with her when she went out, so that if she ever should find the hidden door she would be ready.

Mrs. Medlock had allowed Martha to sleep all night at the cottage, but she was back at her work in the morning with cheeks redder than ever and in the best of spirits.

“I got up at four o’clock,” she said. “Eh! it was pretty on th’ moor with th’ birds gettin’ up an’ th’ rabbits scamperin’ about an’ th’ sun risin’. I didn’t walk all th’ way. A man gave me a ride in his cart an’ I did enjoy myself.”

She was full of stories of the delights of her day out. Her mother had been glad to see her and they had got the baking and washing all out of the way. She had even made each of the children a doughcake with a bit of brown sugar in it.

“I had ’em all pipin’ hot when they came in from playin’ on th’ moor. An’ th’ cottage all smelt o’ nice, clean hot bakin’ an’ there was a good fire, an’ they just shouted for joy. Our Dickon he said our cottage was good enough for a king.”

In the evening they had all sat round the fire, and Martha and her mother had sewed patches on torn clothes and mended stockings and Martha had told them about the little girl who had come from India and who had been waited on all her life by what Martha called “blacks” until she didn’t know how to put on her own stockings.

“Eh! they did like to hear about you,” said Martha. “They wanted to know all about th’ blacks an’ about th’ ship you came in. I couldn’t tell ’em enough.”

Mary reflected a little.

“I’ll tell you a great deal more before your next day out,” she said, “so that you will have more to talk about. I dare say they would like to hear about riding on elephants and camels, and about the officers going to hunt tigers.”

“My word!” cried delighted Martha. “It would set ’em clean off their heads. Would tha’ really do that, Miss? It would be same as a wild beast show like we heard they had in York once.”

“India is quite different from Yorkshire,” Mary said slowly, as she thought the matter over. “I never thought of that. Did Dickon and your mother like to hear you talk about me?”

“Why, our Dickon’s eyes nearly started out o’ his head, they got that round,” answered Martha. “But mother, she was put out about your seemin’ to be all by yourself like. She said, ‘Hasn’t Mr. Craven got no governess for her, nor no nurse?’ and I said, ‘No, he hasn’t, though Mrs. Medlock says he will when he thinks of it, but she says he mayn’t think of it for two or three years.'”

“I don’t want a governess,” said Mary sharply.

“But mother says you ought to be learnin’ your book by this time an’ you ought to have a woman to look after you, an’ she says: ‘Now, Martha, you just think how you’d feel yourself, in a big place like that, wanderin’ about all alone, an’ no mother. You do your best to cheer her up,’ she says, an’ I said I would.”

Mary gave her a long, steady look.

“You do cheer me up,” she said. “I like to hear you talk.”

Presently Martha went out of the room and came back with something held in her hands under her apron.

“What does tha’ think,” she said, with a cheerful grin. “I’ve brought thee a present.”

“A present!” exclaimed Mistress Mary. How could a cottage full of fourteen hungry people give any one a present!

“A man was drivin’ across the moor peddlin’,” Martha explained. “An’ he stopped his cart at our door. He had pots an’ pans an’ odds an’ ends, but mother had no money to buy anythin’. Just as he was goin’ away our ‘Lizabeth Ellen called out, ‘Mother, he’s got skippin’-ropes with red an’ blue handles.’ An’ mother she calls out quite sudden, ‘Here, stop, mister! How much are they?’ An’ he says ‘Tuppence’, an’ mother she began fumblin’ in her pocket an’ she says to me, ‘Martha, tha’s brought me thy wages like a good lass, an’ I’ve got four places to put every penny, but I’m just goin’ to take tuppence out of it to buy that child a skippin’-rope,’ an’ she bought one an’ here it is.”

She brought it out from under her apron and exhibited it quite proudly. It was a strong, slender rope with a striped red and blue handle at each end, but Mary Lennox had never seen a skipping-rope before. She gazed at it with a mystified expression.

“What is it for?” she asked curiously.

“For!” cried out Martha. “Does tha’ mean that they’ve not got skippin’-ropes in India, for all they’ve got elephants and tigers and camels! No wonder most of ’em’s black. This is what it’s for; just watch me.”

And she ran into the middle of the room and, taking a handle in each hand, began to skip, and skip, and skip, while Mary turned in her chair to stare at her, and the queer faces in the old portraits seemed to stare at her, too, and wonder what on earth this common little cottager had the impudence to be doing under their very noses. But Martha did not even see them. The interest and curiosity in Mistress Mary’s face delighted her, and she went on skipping and counted as she skipped until she had reached a hundred.

“I could skip longer than that,” she said when she stopped. “I’ve skipped as much as five hundred when I was twelve, but I wasn’t as fat then as I am now, an’ I was in practice.”

Mary got up from her chair beginning to feel excited herself.

“It looks nice,” she said. “Your mother is a kind woman. Do you think I could ever skip like that?”

“You just try it,” urged Martha, handing her the skipping-rope. “You can’t skip a hundred at first, but if you practice you’ll mount up. That’s what mother said. She says, ‘Nothin’ will do her more good than skippin’ rope. It’s th’ sensiblest toy a child can have. Let her play out in th’ fresh air skippin’ an’ it’ll stretch her legs an’ arms an’ give her some strength in ’em.'”

It was plain that there was not a great deal of strength in Mistress Mary’s arms and legs when she first began to skip. She was not very clever at it, but she liked it so much that she did not want to stop.

“Put on tha’ things and run an’ skip out o’ doors,” said Martha. “Mother said I must tell you to keep out o’ doors as much as you could, even when it rains a bit, so as tha’ wrap up warm.”

Mary put on her coat and hat and took her skipping-rope over her arm. She opened the door to go out, and then suddenly thought of something and turned back rather slowly.

“Martha,” she said, “they were your wages. It was your two-pence really. Thank you.” She said it stiffly because she was not used to thanking people or noticing that they did things for her. “Thank you,” she said, and held out her hand because she did not know what else to do.

Martha gave her hand a clumsy little shake, as if she was not accustomed to this sort of thing either. Then she laughed.

“Eh! th’ art a queer, old-womanish thing,” she said. “If tha’d been our ‘Lizabeth Ellen tha’d have given me a kiss.”

Mary looked stiffer than ever.

“Do you want me to kiss you?”

Martha laughed again.

“Nay, not me,” she answered. “If tha’ was different, p’raps tha’d want to thysel’. But tha’ isn’t. Run off outside an’ play with thy rope.”

Mistress Mary felt a little awkward as she went out of the room. Yorkshire people seemed strange, and Martha was always rather a puzzle to her. At first she had disliked her very much, but now she did not. The skipping-rope was a wonderful thing. She counted and skipped, and skipped and counted, until her cheeks were quite red, and she was more interested than she had ever been since she was born. The sun was shining and a little wind was blowing—not a rough wind, but one which came in delightful little gusts and brought a fresh scent of newly turned earth with it. She skipped round the fountain garden, and up one walk and down another. She skipped at last into the kitchen-garden and saw Ben Weatherstaff digging and talking to his robin, which was hopping about him. She skipped down the walk toward him and he lifted his head and looked at her with a curious expression. She had wondered if he would notice her. She wanted him to see her skip.

“Well!” he exclaimed. “Upon my word. P’raps tha’ art a young ‘un, after all, an’ p’raps tha’s got child’s blood in thy veins instead of sour buttermilk. Tha’s skipped red into thy cheeks as sure as my name’s Ben Weatherstaff. I wouldn’t have believed tha’ could do it.”

“I never skipped before,” Mary said. “I’m just beginning. I can only go up to twenty.”

“Tha’ keep on,” said Ben. “Tha’ shapes well enough at it for a young ‘un that’s lived with heathen. Just see how he’s watchin’ thee,” jerking his head toward the robin. “He followed after thee yesterday. He’ll be at it again today. He’ll be bound to find out what th’ skippin’-rope is. He’s never seen one. Eh!” shaking his head at the bird, “tha’ curiosity will be th’ death of thee sometime if tha’ doesn’t look sharp.”

Mary skipped round all the gardens and round the orchard, resting every few minutes. At length she went to her own special walk and made up her mind to try if she could skip the whole length of it. It was a good long skip and she began slowly, but before she had gone half-way down the path she was so hot and breathless that she was obliged to stop. She did not mind much, because she had already counted up to thirty. She stopped with a little laugh of pleasure, and there, lo and behold, was the robin swaying on a long branch of ivy. He had followed her and he greeted her with a chirp. As Mary had skipped toward him she felt something heavy in her pocket strike against her at each jump, and when she saw the robin she laughed again.

“You showed me where the key was yesterday,” she said. “You ought to show me the door today; but I don’t believe you know!”

The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off—and they are nearly always doing it.

Mary Lennox had heard a great deal about Magic in her Ayah’s stories, and she always said that what happened almost at that moment was Magic.

One of the nice little gusts of wind rushed down the walk, and it was a stronger one than the rest. It was strong enough to wave the branches of the trees, and it was more than strong enough to sway the trailing sprays of untrimmed ivy hanging from the wall. Mary had stepped close to the robin, and suddenly the gust of wind swung aside some loose ivy trails, and more suddenly still she jumped toward it and caught it in her hand. This she did because she had seen something under it—a round knob which had been covered by the leaves hanging over it. It was the knob of a door.

She put her hands under the leaves and began to pull and push them aside. Thick as the ivy hung, it nearly all was a loose and swinging curtain, though some had crept over wood and iron. Mary’s heart began to thump and her hands to shake a little in her delight and excitement. The robin kept singing and twittering away and tilting his head on one side, as if he were as excited as she was. What was this under her hands which was square and made of iron and which her fingers found a hole in?

It was the lock of the door which had been closed ten years and she put her hand in her pocket, drew out the key and found it fitted the keyhole. She put the key in and turned it. It took two hands to do it, but it did turn.

And then she took a long breath and looked behind her up the long walk to see if any one was coming. No one was coming. No one ever did come, it seemed, and she took another long breath, because she could not help it, and she held back the swinging curtain of ivy and pushed back the door which opened slowly—slowly.

Then she slipped through it, and shut it behind her, and stood with her back against it, looking about her and breathing quite fast with excitement, and wonder, and delight.

She was standing inside the secret garden.

Gay Miller

Sep 08

Comparing Parallel Stories using Number the Stars

Number the Stars

Terrific free activity to use with Number the Stars

The Reading Crew is a group of primary through middle school reading specialists. About three to four times a year, we share materials and ideas through a link up. This time we are sharing mentor texts. Enjoy collecting a lot of great teaching ideas and free printables. Before you leave, be sure to enter the rafflecopter at the end of this post. We are giving away copies of each mentor book from the posts. Have a great time exploring our blog posts, and I hope you have the best school year ever!

Number the Stars Activity #1

Number the Stars is a phenomenal story of courage. This makes it a great book for students to use as a writing prompt.

In Number the Stars, Annemarie is going alone on a dangerous mission through the woods to take an important package to her uncle. The mission reminds Annemarie of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Annemarie tells herself Riding Hood’s story as she travels through the woods where German soldiers lurk as a way to remain calm. Author Lois Lowry does a beautiful job interweaving Annemarie’s and Riding Hood’s stories together.

In the first activity, students complete a chart to compare the parallel events taking place to Annemarie and Little Red Riding Hood.

Free Teaching Activity to use with Number the StarsThe Wizard of Oz Activity #2

After completing a chart of comparisons, students will try writing in this style using an excerpt from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the story of “The Engine that Could.”

A Free Google Digital Activity to use with Number the Stars

This link will take you to both activities.

Hurricane Harvey

I can’t imagine beginning the new school year in the situation the teachers in Houston are in. Your students must have a million questions especially with Irma on her way. Here are a few links to check out:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Gay Miller

 

Sep 04

The Secret Garden – Chapter 7 The Key to the Garden

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 7

 

The audio file for Chapter 7 “The Key to the Garden” is 11 minutes 38 seconds in length.

 

Handouts

The Secret Garden

Chapter 7

The Key to the Garden

Two days after this, when Mary opened her eyes she sat upright in bed immediately, and called to Martha.

“Look at the moor! Look at the moor!”

The rainstorm had ended and the gray mist and clouds had been swept away in the night by the wind. The wind itself had ceased and a brilliant, deep blue sky arched high over the moorland. Never, never had Mary dreamed of a sky so blue. In India skies were hot and blazing; this was of a deep cool blue which almost seemed to sparkle like the waters of some lovely bottomless lake, and here and there, high, high in the arched blueness floated small clouds of snow-white fleece. The far-reaching world of the moor itself looked softly blue instead of gloomy purple-black or awful dreary gray.

“Aye,” said Martha with a cheerful grin. “Th’ storm’s over for a bit. It does like this at this time o’ th’ year. It goes off in a night like it was pretendin’ it had never been here an’ never meant to come again. That’s because th’ springtime’s on its way. It’s a long way off yet, but it’s comin’.”

“I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark in England,” Mary said.

“Eh! no!” said Martha, sitting up on her heels among her black lead brushes. “Nowt o’ th’ soart!”

“What does that mean?” asked Mary seriously. In India the natives spoke different dialects which only a few people understood, so she was not surprised when Martha used words she did not know.

Martha laughed as she had done the first morning.

“There now,” she said. “I’ve talked broad Yorkshire again like Mrs. Medlock said I mustn’t. ‘Nowt o’ th’ soart’ means ‘nothin’-of-the-sort,'” slowly and carefully, “but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire’s th’ sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. I told thee tha’d like th’ moor after a bit. Just you wait till you see th’ gold-colored gorse blossoms an’ th’ blossoms o’ th’ broom, an’ th’ heather flowerin’, all purple bells, an’ hundreds o’ butterflies flutterin’ an’ bees hummin’ an’ skylarks soarin’ up an’ singin’. You’ll want to get out on it as sunrise an’ live out on it all day like Dickon does.” “Could I ever get there?” asked Mary wistfully, looking through her window at the far-off blue. It was so new and big and wonderful and such a heavenly color.

“I don’t know,” answered Martha. “Tha’s never used tha’ legs since tha’ was born, it seems to me. Tha’ couldn’t walk five mile. It’s five mile to our cottage.”

“I should like to see your cottage.”

Martha stared at her a moment curiously before she took up her polishing brush and began to rub the grate again. She was thinking that the small plain face did not look quite as sour at this moment as it had done the first morning she saw it. It looked just a trifle like little Susan Ann’s when she wanted something very much.

“I’ll ask my mother about it,” she said. “She’s one o’ them that nearly always sees a way to do things. It’s my day out today an’ I’m goin’ home. Eh! I am glad. Mrs. Medlock thinks a lot o’ mother. Perhaps she could talk to her.”

“I like your mother,” said Mary.

“I should think tha’ did,” agreed Martha, polishing away.

“I’ve never seen her,” said Mary.

“No, tha’ hasn’t,” replied Martha.

She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of her nose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment, but she ended quite positively.

“Well, she’s that sensible an’ hard workin’ an’ goodnatured an’ clean that no one could help likin’ her whether they’d seen her or not. When I’m goin’ home to her on my day out I just jump for joy when I’m crossin’ the moor.”

“I like Dickon,” added Mary. “And I’ve never seen him.”

“Well,” said Martha stoutly, “I’ve told thee that th’ very birds likes him an’ th’ rabbits an’ wild sheep an’ ponies, an’ th’ foxes themselves. I wonder,” staring at her reflectively, “what Dickon would think of thee?”

“He wouldn’t like me,” said Mary in her stiff, cold little way. “No one does.”

Martha looked reflective again.

“How does tha’ like thysel’?” she inquired, really quite as if she were curious to know.

Mary hesitated a moment and thought it over.

“Not at all—really,” she answered. “But I never thought of that before.”

Martha grinned a little as if at some homely recollection.

“Mother said that to me once,” she said. “She was at her wash-tub an’ I was in a bad temper an’ talkin’ ill of folk, an’ she turns round on me an’ says: ‘Tha’ young vixen, tha’! There tha’ stands sayin’ tha’ doesn’t like this one an’ tha’ doesn’t like that one. How does tha’ like thysel’?’ It made me laugh an’ it brought me to my senses in a minute.”

She went away in high spirits as soon as she had given Mary her breakfast. She was going to walk five miles across the moor to the cottage, and she was going to help her mother with the washing and do the week’s baking and enjoy herself thoroughly.

Mary felt lonelier than ever when she knew she was no longer in the house. She went out into the garden as quickly as possible, and the first thing she did was to run round and round the fountain flower garden ten times. She counted the times carefully and when she had finished she felt in better spirits. The sunshine made the whole place look different. The high, deep, blue sky arched over Misselthwaite as well as over the moor, and she kept lifting her face and looking up into it, trying to imagine what it would be like to lie down on one of the little snow-white clouds and float about. She went into the first kitchen-garden and found Ben Weatherstaff working there with two other gardeners. The change in the weather seemed to have done him good. He spoke to her of his own accord. “Springtime’s comin,'” he said. “Cannot tha’ smell it?”

Mary sniffed and thought she could.

“I smell something nice and fresh and damp,” she said.

“That’s th’ good rich earth,” he answered, digging away. “It’s in a good humor makin’ ready to grow things. It’s glad when plantin’ time comes. It’s dull in th’ winter when it’s got nowt to do. In th’ flower gardens out there things will be stirrin’ down below in th’ dark. Th’ sun’s warmin’ ’em. You’ll see bits o’ green spikes stickin’ out o’ th’ black earth after a bit.”

“What will they be?” asked Mary.

“Crocuses an’ snowdrops an’ daffydowndillys. Has tha’ never seen them?”

“No. Everything is hot, and wet, and green after the rains in India,” said Mary. “And I think things grow up in a night.”

“These won’t grow up in a night,” said Weatherstaff. “Tha’ll have to wait for ’em. They’ll poke up a bit higher here, an’ push out a spike more there, an’ uncurl a leaf this day an’ another that. You watch ’em.”

“I am going to,” answered Mary.

Very soon she heard the soft rustling flight of wings again and she knew at once that the robin had come again. He was very pert and lively, and hopped about so close to her feet, and put his head on one side and looked at her so slyly that she asked Ben Weatherstaff a question.

“Do you think he remembers me?” she said.

“Remembers thee!” said Weatherstaff indignantly. “He knows every cabbage stump in th’ gardens, let alone th’ people. He’s never seen a little wench here before, an’ he’s bent on findin’ out all about thee. Tha’s no need to try to hide anything from him.”

“Are things stirring down below in the dark in that garden where he lives?” Mary inquired.

“What garden?” grunted Weatherstaff, becoming surly again.

“The one where the old rose-trees are.” She could not help asking, because she wanted so much to know. “Are all the flowers dead, or do some of them come again in the summer? Are there ever any roses?”

“Ask him,” said Ben Weatherstaff, hunching his shoulders toward the robin. “He’s the only one as knows. No one else has seen inside it for ten year’.”

Ten years was a long time, Mary thought. She had been born ten years ago.

She walked away, slowly thinking. She had begun to like the garden just as she had begun to like the robin and Dickon and Martha’s mother. She was beginning to like Martha, too. That seemed a good many people to like—when you were not used to liking. She thought of the robin as one of the people. She went to her walk outside the long, ivy-covered wall over which she could see the tree-tops; and the second time she walked up and down the most interesting and exciting thing happened to her, and it was all through Ben Weatherstaff’s robin.

She heard a chirp and a twitter, and when she looked at the bare flower-bed at her left side there he was hopping about and pretending to peck things out of the earth to persuade her that he had not followed her. But she knew he had followed her and the surprise so filled her with delight that she almost trembled a little.

“You do remember me!” she cried out. “You do! You are prettier than anything else in the world!”

She chirped, and talked, and coaxed and he hopped, and flirted his tail and twittered. It was as if he were talking. His red waistcoat was like satin and he puffed his tiny breast out and was so fine and so grand and so pretty that it was really as if he were showing her how important and like a human person a robin could be. Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something like robin sounds.

Oh! to think that he should actually let her come as near to him as that! He knew nothing in the world would make her put out her hand toward him or startle him in the least tiniest way. He knew it because he was a real person—only nicer than any other person in the world. She was so happy that she scarcely dared to breathe.

The flower-bed was not quite bare. It was bare of flowers because the perennial plants had been cut down for their winter rest, but there were tall shrubs and low ones which grew together at the back of the bed, and as the robin hopped about under them she saw him hop over a small pile of freshly turned up earth. He stopped on it to look for a worm. The earth had been turned up because a dog had been trying to dig up a mole and he had scratched quite a deep hole.

Mary looked at it, not really knowing why the hole was there, and as she looked she saw something almost buried in the newly-turned soil. It was something like a ring of rusty iron or brass and when the robin flew up into a tree nearby she put out her hand and picked the ring up. It was more than a ring, however; it was an old key which looked as if it had been buried a long time.

Mistress Mary stood up and looked at it with an almost frightened face as it hung from her finger.

“Perhaps it has been buried for ten years,” she said in a whisper. “Perhaps it is the key to the garden!”

 

Gay Miller

Aug 31

Refugee by Alan Gratz Teaching Ideas

Refugee by Alan Gratz

three tweens – three historical times –
three remarkable stories of courage 

The Story

Refugee by Alan Gratz is a book your students will beg to keep reading. Told in alternating chapters, one story builds to a cliffhanger. The chapter ends leaving the reader on edge. The book continues with the next story, and [You guessed it.] builds to a cliffhanger. This repeated pattern continues throughout the novel making it a real page turner.

Teachable Moments

The three stories contain accurate details about three important events in history – Hitler’s Germany, Castro’s Cuba, and Assad’s Syria.

Accessibility

Waiting for months after a book is published for the paperback is often the norm. The paperback version of Refugee is available through the Scholastic Book Clubs September TAB flyer.

FREE Teaching Idea for
Refugee by Alan Gratz

Activity #1 – The Book Trailer 

Scholastic makes great book trailers. This short video is no exception. First show the short video. Next, students complete a chart based on the details provided in the video. Students will most likely need to watch the video a second time to catch all the details.

This is a great hook activity to build interest before starting the novel. Completing the chart will also help students remember the main characters, settings, and their biggest conflicts. With three stories, this can be confusing. 

Google Docs

Three files are provided in this Google Doc folder. You will find the full color version for students to complete online. A black and white version for printing makes this activity extremely flexible.  An answer key is also included.  

This free activity for Refugee by Alan Gratz makes a great hook activity for the book. Students watch the book trailer from Scholastic and then complete the chart. Google Digital and printable versions are included in this download.Activity #2

BBC Activity - Syrian Journey

Try Syrian Escape Route. This SmartBoard activity was published by BBC. It allows students to make choices. —- What route should you take? How do you spend your money? What items do you take? —- The site also includes real stories of survivors.

Activity #3

If you would like to try out the Refugee Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-3 
  • Constructive Response Question for Chapters 1-3
  • Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like

Free Sample Printables from a novel study based on Alan Gratz's newest novel Refugee

Refugee Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook. Vocabulary, comprehension, constructive response writing, and skill practice are all included. Printable and Google Digital versions are available.

Gay Miller

 

Aug 28

The Secret Garden – Chapter 6 There Was Some One Crying – There Was!

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 6

 

The audio file for Chapter 6 “There Was Some One Crying – There Was!”is 12 minutes 9 seconds in length.

 

Handouts

 

The Secret Garden

Chapter 6

There Was Some One Crying – There Was!

The next day the rain poured down in torrents again, and when Mary looked out of her window the moor was almost hidden by gray mist and cloud. There could be no going out today.

“What do you do in your cottage when it rains like this?” she asked Martha.

“Try to keep from under each other’s feet mostly,” Martha answered. “Eh! there does seem a lot of us then. Mother’s a good-tempered woman but she gets fair moithered. The biggest ones goes out in th’ cow-shed and plays there. Dickon he doesn’t mind th’ wet. He goes out just th’ same as if th’ sun was shinin’. He says he sees things on rainy days as doesn’t show when it’s fair weather. He once found a little fox cub half drowned in its hole and he brought it home in th’ bosom of his shirt to keep it warm. Its mother had been killed nearby an’ th’ hole was swum out an’ th’ rest o’ th’ litter was dead. He’s got it at home now. He found a half-drowned young crow another time an’ he brought it home, too, an’ tamed it. It’s named Soot because it’s so black, an’ it hops an’ flies about with him everywhere.”

The time had come when Mary had forgotten to resent Martha’s familiar talk. She had even begun to find it interesting and to be sorry when she stopped or went away. The stories she had been told by her Ayah when she lived in India had been quite unlike those Martha had to tell about the moorland cottage which held fourteen people who lived in four little rooms and never had quite enough to eat. The children seemed to tumble about and amuse themselves like a litter of rough, good-natured collie puppies. Mary was most attracted by the mother and Dickon. When Martha told stories of what “mother” said or did they always sounded comfortable.

“If I had a raven or a fox cub I could play with it,” said Mary. “But I have nothing.”

Martha looked perplexed.

“Can tha’ knit?” she asked.

“No,” answered Mary.

“Can tha’ sew?”

“No.”

“Can tha’ read?”

“Yes.”

“Then why doesn’t tha, read somethin’, or learn a bit o’ spellin’? Tha’st old enough to be learnin’ thy book a good bit now.”

“I haven’t any books,” said Mary. “Those I had were left in India.”

“That’s a pity,” said Martha. “If Mrs. Medlock’d let thee go into th’ library, there’s thousands o’ books there.”

Mary did not ask where the library was, because she was suddenly inspired by a new idea. She made up her mind to go and find it herself. She was not troubled about Mrs. Medlock. Mrs. Medlock seemed always to be in her comfortable housekeeper’s sitting-room downstairs. In this queer place one scarcely ever saw any one at all. In fact, there was no one to see but the servants, and when their master was away they lived a luxurious life below stairs, where there was a huge kitchen hung about with shining brass and pewter, and a large servants’ hall where there were four or five abundant meals eaten every day, and where a great deal of lively romping went on when Mrs. Medlock was out of the way.

Mary’s meals were served regularly, and Martha waited on her, but no one troubled themselves about her in the least. Mrs. Medlock came and looked at her every day or two, but no one inquired what she did or told her what to do. She supposed that perhaps this was the English way of treating children. In India she had always been attended by her Ayah, who had followed her about and waited on her, hand and foot. She had often been tired of her company. Now she was followed by nobody and was learning to dress herself because Martha looked as though she thought she was silly and stupid when she wanted to have things handed to her and put on.

“Hasn’t tha’ got good sense?” she said once, when Mary had stood waiting for her to put on her gloves for her. “Our Susan Ann is twice as sharp as thee an’ she’s only four year’ old. Sometimes tha’ looks fair soft in th’ head.”

Mary had worn her contrary scowl for an hour after that, but it made her think several entirely new things.

She stood at the window for about ten minutes this morning after Martha had swept up the hearth for the last time and gone downstairs. She was thinking over the new idea which had come to her when she heard of the library. She did not care very much about the library itself, because she had read very few books; but to hear of it brought back to her mind the hundred rooms with closed doors. She wondered if they were all really locked and what she would find if she could get into any of them. Were there a hundred really? Why shouldn’t she go and see how many doors she could count? It would be something to do on this morning when she could not go out. She had never been taught to ask permission to do things, and she knew nothing at all about authority, so she would not have thought it necessary to ask Mrs. Medlock if she might walk about the house, even if she had seen her.

She opened the door of the room and went into the corridor, and then she began her wanderings. It was a long corridor and it branched into other corridors and it led her up short flights of steps which mounted to others again. There were doors and doors, and there were pictures on the walls. Sometimes they were pictures of dark, curious landscapes, but oftenest they were portraits of men and women in queer, grand costumes made of satin and velvet. She found herself in one long gallery whose walls were covered with these portraits. She had never thought there could be so many in any house. She walked slowly down this place and stared at the faces which also seemed to stare at her. She felt as if they were wondering what a little girl from India was doing in their house. Some were pictures of children—little girls in thick satin frocks which reached to their feet and stood out about them, and boys with puffed sleeves and lace collars and long hair, or with big ruffs around their necks. She always stopped to look at the children, and wonder what their names were, and where they had gone, and why they wore such odd clothes. There was a stiff, plain little girl rather like herself. She wore a green brocade dress and held a green parrot on her finger. Her eyes had a sharp, curious look.

“Where do you live now?” said Mary aloud to her. “I wish you were here.”

Surely no other little girl ever spent such a queer morning. It seemed as if there was no one in all the huge rambling house but her own small self, wandering about upstairs and down, through narrow passages and wide ones, where it seemed to her that no one but herself had ever walked. Since so many rooms had been built, people must have lived in them, but it all seemed so empty that she could not quite believe it true.

It was not until she climbed to the second floor that she thought of turning the handle of a door. All the doors were shut, as Mrs. Medlock had said they were, but at last she put her hand on the handle of one of them and turned it. She was almost frightened for a moment when she felt that it turned without difficulty and that when she pushed upon the door itself it slowly and heavily opened. It was a massive door and opened into a big bedroom. There were embroidered hangings on the wall, and inlaid furniture such as she had seen in India stood about the room. A broad window with leaded panes looked out upon the moor; and over the mantel was another portrait of the stiff, plain little girl who seemed to stare at her more curiously than ever.

“Perhaps she slept here once,” said Mary. “She stares at me so that she makes me feel queer.”

After that she opened more doors and more. She saw so many rooms that she became quite tired and began to think that there must be a hundred, though she had not counted them. In all of them there were old pictures or old tapestries with strange scenes worked on them. There were curious pieces of furniture and curious ornaments in nearly all of them.

In one room, which looked like a lady’s sitting-room, the hangings were all embroidered velvet, and in a cabinet were about a hundred little elephants made of ivory. They were of different sizes, and some had their mahouts or palanquins on their backs. Some were much bigger than the others and some were so tiny that they seemed only babies. Mary had seen carved ivory in India and she knew all about elephants. She opened the door of the cabinet and stood on a footstool and played with these for quite a long time. When she got tired she set the elephants in order and shut the door of the cabinet.

In all her wanderings through the long corridors and the empty rooms, she had seen nothing alive; but in this room she saw something. Just after she had closed the cabinet door she heard a tiny rustling sound. It made her jump and look around at the sofa by the fireplace, from which it seemed to come. In the corner of the sofa there was a cushion, and in the velvet which covered it there was a hole, and out of the hole peeped a tiny head with a pair of frightened eyes in it.

Mary crept softly across the room to look. The bright eyes belonged to a little gray mouse, and the mouse had eaten a hole into the cushion and made a comfortable nest there. Six baby mice were cuddled up asleep near her. If there was no one else alive in the hundred rooms there were seven mice who did not look lonely at all.

“If they wouldn’t be so frightened I would take them back with me,” said Mary.

She had wandered about long enough to feel too tired to wander any farther, and she turned back. Two or three times she lost her way by turning down the wrong corridor and was obliged to ramble up and down until she found the right one; but at last she reached her own floor again, though she was some distance from her own room and did not know exactly where she was.

“I believe I have taken a wrong turning again,” she said, standing still at what seemed the end of a short passage with tapestry on the wall. “I don’t know which way to go. How still everything is!”

It was while she was standing here and just after she had said this that the stillness was broken by a sound. It was another cry, but not quite like the one she had heard last night; it was only a short one, a fretful childish whine muffled by passing through walls.

“It’s nearer than it was,” said Mary, her heart beating rather faster. “And it is crying.”

She put her hand accidentally upon the tapestry near her, and then sprang back, feeling quite startled. The tapestry was the covering of a door which fell open and showed her that there was another part of the corridor behind it, and Mrs. Medlock was coming up it with her bunch of keys in her hand and a very cross look on her face.

“What are you doing here?” she said, and she took Mary by the arm and pulled her away. “What did I tell you?”

“I turned round the wrong corner,” explained Mary. “I didn’t know which way to go and I heard some one crying.” She quite hated Mrs. Medlock at the moment, but she hated her more the next.

“You didn’t hear anything of the sort,” said the housekeeper. “You come along back to your own nursery or I’ll box your ears.”

And she took her by the arm and half pushed, half pulled her up one passage and down another until she pushed her in at the door of her own room.

“Now,” she said, “you stay where you’re told to stay or you’ll find yourself locked up. The master had better get you a governess, same as he said he would. You’re one that needs some one to look sharp after you. I’ve got enough to do.”

She went out of the room and slammed the door after her, and Mary went and sat on the hearth-rug, pale with rage. She did not cry, but ground her teeth.

“There was some one crying—there was—there was!” she said to herself.

She had heard it twice now, and sometime she would find out. She had found out a great deal this morning. She felt as if she had been on a long journey, and at any rate she had had something to amuse her all the time, and she had played with the ivory elephants and had seen the gray mouse and its babies in their nest in the velvet cushion.

Gay Miller

Aug 24

Using Animated Shorts to Teach Inference

Using Animated Shorts to Teach
Inference

Free Printables to Use with Animated Shorts (Inference)

If you are looking for some high interest activities, try using animated shorts to teach reading skills. This post contains the animated short film “Lonely Island” found on Youtube and inserted in this post. 

In the accompanying handout, students will summarize, infer, and make predictions. You can download the handout here.

Animated Short

Lonely Island [2:50]

A stranded man wishes to leave a deserted island. Every time a plane passes over he tries to get the pilot’s attention. Will he get off the island?

 

Handout

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In the full resource, available on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will receive not only the handouts from these ten posts but forty-two additional printables.

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Teaching Reading and Writing Skills with Animated Short Films [Printable]

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Gay Miller

Aug 21

The Secret Garden – Chapter 5 The Cry in the Corridor

Free Teaching Materials to use with The Secret Garden Chapter 5

 

The audio file for Chapter 5 “The Cry in the Corridor” is 12 minutes 33 seconds in length.

 

Handouts

 

The Secret Garden

Chapter 5

The Cry in the Corridor

 

At first each day which passed by for Mary Lennox was exactly like the others. Every morning she awoke in her tapestried room and found Martha kneeling upon the hearth building her fire; every morning she ate her breakfast in the nursery which had nothing amusing in it; and after each breakfast she gazed out of the window across to the huge moor which seemed to spread out on all sides and climb up to the sky, and after she had stared for a while she realized that if she did not go out she would have to stay in and do nothing—and so she went out. She did not know that this was the best thing she could have done, and she did not know that, when she began to walk quickly or even run along the paths and down the avenue, she was stirring her slow blood and making herself stronger by fighting with the wind which swept down from the moor. She ran only to make herself warm, and she hated the wind which rushed at her face and roared and held her back as if it were some giant she could not see. But the big breaths of rough fresh air blown over the heather filled her lungs with something which was good for her whole thin body and whipped some red color into her cheeks and brightened her dull eyes when she did not know anything about it.

But after a few days spent almost entirely out of doors she wakened one morning knowing what it was to be hungry, and when she sat down to her breakfast she did not glance disdainfully at her porridge and push it away, but took up her spoon and began to eat it and went on eating it until her bowl was empty.

“Tha’ got on well enough with that this mornin’, didn’t tha’?” said Martha.

“It tastes nice today,” said Mary, feeling a little surprised her self.

“It’s th’ air of th’ moor that’s givin’ thee stomach for tha’ victuals,” answered Martha. “It’s lucky for thee that tha’s got victuals as well as appetite. There’s been twelve in our cottage as had th’ stomach an’ nothin’ to put in it. You go on playin’ you out o’ doors every day an’ you’ll get some flesh on your bones an’ you won’t be so yeller.”

“I don’t play,” said Mary. “I have nothing to play with.”

“Nothin’ to play with!” exclaimed Martha. “Our children plays with sticks and stones. They just runs about an’ shouts an’ looks at things.” Mary did not shout, but she looked at things. There was nothing else to do. She walked round and round the gardens and wandered about the paths in the park. Sometimes she looked for Ben Weatherstaff, but though several times she saw him at work he was too busy to look at her or was too surly. Once when she was walking toward him he picked up his spade and turned away as if he did it on purpose.

One place she went to oftener than to any other. It was the long walk outside the gardens with the walls round them. There were bare flower-beds on either side of it and against the walls ivy grew thickly. There was one part of the wall where the creeping dark green leaves were more bushy than elsewhere. It seemed as if for a long time that part had been neglected. The rest of it had been clipped and made to look neat, but at this lower end of the walk it had not been trimmed at all.

A few days after she had talked to Ben Weatherstaff, Mary stopped to notice this and wondered why it was so. She had just paused and was looking up at a long spray of ivy swinging in the wind when she saw a gleam of scarlet and heard a brilliant chirp, and there, on the top of the wall, forward perched Ben Weatherstaff’s robin redbreast, tilting forward to look at her with his small head on one side.

“Oh!” she cried out, “is it you—is it you?” And it did not seem at all queer to her that she spoke to him as if she were sure that he would understand and answer her.

He did answer. He twittered and chirped and hopped along the wall as if he were telling her all sorts of things. It seemed to Mistress Mary as if she understood him, too, though he was not speaking in words. It was as if he said:

“Good morning! Isn’t the wind nice? Isn’t the sun nice? Isn’t everything nice? Let us both chirp and hop and twitter. Come on! Come on!”

Mary began to laugh, and as he hopped and took little flights along the wall she ran after him. Poor little thin, sallow, ugly Mary—she actually looked almost pretty for a moment.

“I like you! I like you!” she cried out, pattering down the walk; and she chirped and tried to whistle, which last she did not know how to do in the least. But the robin seemed to be quite satisfied and chirped and whistled back at her. At last he spread his wings and made a darting flight to the top of a tree, where he perched and sang loudly. That reminded Mary of the first time she had seen him. He had been swinging on a tree-top then and she had been standing in the orchard. Now she was on the other side of the orchard and standing in the path outside a wall—much lower down—and there was the same tree inside.

“It’s in the garden no one can go into,” she said to herself. “It’s the garden without a door. He lives in there. How I wish I could see what it is like!”

She ran up the walk to the green door she had entered the first morning. Then she ran down the path through the other door and then into the orchard, and when she stood and looked up there was the tree on the other side of the wall, and there was the robin just finishing his song and, beginning to preen his feathers with his beak.

“It is the garden,” she said. “I am sure it is.”

She walked round and looked closely at that side of the orchard wall, but she only found what she had found before—that there was no door in it. Then she ran through the kitchen-gardens again and out into the walk outside the long ivy-covered wall, and she walked to the end of it and looked at it, but there was no door; and then she walked to the other end, looking again, but there was no door.

“It’s very queer,” she said. “Ben Weatherstaff said there was no door and there is no door. But there must have been one ten years ago, because Mr. Craven buried the key.”

This gave her so much to think of that she began to be quite interested and feel that she was not sorry that she had come to Misselthwaite Manor. In India she had always felt hot and too languid to care much about anything. The fact was that the fresh wind from the moor had begun to blow the cobwebs out of her young brain and to waken her up a little.

She stayed out of doors nearly all day, and when she sat down to her supper at night she felt hungry and drowsy and comfortable. She did not feel cross when Martha chattered away. She felt as if she rather liked to hear her, and at last she thought she would ask her a question. She asked it after she had finished her supper and had sat down on the hearth-rug before the fire.

“Why did Mr. Craven hate the garden?” she said.

She had made Martha stay with her and Martha had not objected at all. She was very young, and used to a crowded cottage full of brothers and sisters, and she found it dull in the great servants’ hall downstairs where the footman and upper-housemaids made fun of her Yorkshire speech and looked upon her as a common little thing, and sat and whispered among themselves. Martha liked to talk, and the strange child who had lived in India, and been waited upon by “blacks,” was novelty enough to attract her.

She sat down on the hearth herself without waiting to be asked.

“Art tha’ thinkin’ about that garden yet?” she said. “I knew tha’ would. That was just the way with me when I first heard about it.”

“Why did he hate it?” Mary persisted.

Martha tucked her feet under her and made herself quite comfortable.

“Listen to th’ wind wutherin’ round the house,” she said. “You could bare stand up on the moor if you was out on it tonight.”

Mary did not know what “wutherin'” meant until she listened, and then she understood. It must mean that hollow shuddering sort of roar which rushed round and round the house as if the giant no one could see were buffeting it and beating at the walls and windows to try to break in. But one knew he could not get in, and somehow it made one feel very safe and warm inside a room with a red coal fire.

“But why did he hate it so?” she asked, after she had listened. She intended to know if Martha did.

Then Martha gave up her store of knowledge.

“Mind,” she said, “Mrs. Medlock said it’s not to be talked about. There’s lots o’ things in this place that’s not to be talked over. That’s Mr. Craven’s orders. His troubles are none servants’ business, he says. But for th’ garden he wouldn’t be like he is. It was Mrs. Craven’s garden that she had made when first they were married an’ she just loved it, an’ they used to ‘tend the flowers themselves. An’ none o’ th’ gardeners was ever let to go in. Him an’ her used to go in an’ shut th’ door an’ stay there hours an’ hours, readin’ and talkin’. An’ she was just a bit of a girl an’ there was an old tree with a branch bent like a seat on it. An’ she made roses grow over it an’ she used to sit there. But one day when she was sittin’ there th’ branch broke an’ she fell on th’ ground an’ was hurt so bad that next day she died. Th’ doctors thought he’d go out o’ his mind an’ die, too. That’s why he hates it. No one’s never gone in since, an’ he won’t let any one talk about it.”

Mary did not ask any more questions. She looked at the red fire and listened to the wind “wutherin’.” It seemed to be “wutherin'” louder than ever. At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one.

But as she was listening to the wind she began to listen to something else. She did not know what it was, because at first she could scarcely distinguish it from the wind itself. It was a curious sound—it seemed almost as if a child were crying somewhere. Sometimes the wind sounded rather like a child crying, but presently Mistress Mary felt quite sure this sound was inside the house, not outside it. It was far away, but it was inside. She turned round and looked at Martha.

“Do you hear any one crying?” she said.

Martha suddenly looked confused.

“No,” she answered. “It’s th’ wind. Sometimes it sounds like as if some one was lost on th’ moor an’ wailin’. It’s got all sorts o’ sounds.”

“But listen,” said Mary. “It’s in the house—down one of those long corridors.”

And at that very moment a door must have been opened somewhere downstairs; for a great rushing draft blew along the passage and the door of the room they sat in was blown open with a crash, and as they both jumped to their feet the light was blown out and the crying sound was swept down the far corridor so that it was to be heard more plainly than ever.

“There!” said Mary. “I told you so! It is some one crying—and it isn’t a grown-up person.”

Martha ran and shut the door and turned the key, but before she did it they both heard the sound of a door in some far passage shutting with a bang, and then everything was quiet, for even the wind ceased “wutherin'” for a few moments.

“It was th’ wind,” said Martha stubbornly. “An’ if it wasn’t, it was little Betty Butterworth, th’ scullery-maid. She’s had th’ toothache all day.”

But something troubled and awkward in her manner made Mistress Mary stare very hard at her. She did not believe she was speaking the truth.

 

Gay Miller

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