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This is an outstanding multidiscipline integrated unit on Patricia Polacco: A Crafty Author <


Art, Language Arts  



Title – Patricia Polacco: A Crafty Author
(A Third Grade Integrated Unit)
By – Brandi Stephens and Cindy Brewer
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 3

Essential Questions:

  • What can we learn from studying author’s craft concerning cultures around the world?
  • How can we apply what we learn about Patricia Polacco’s works to our own writing styles?
  • How can we apply what we read to our own lives?
Lesson 1

Title: “What’s on your quilt?”

NCSCOS & Content Areas:

      Language Arts:

      Goal 1.04-Increase sight vocabulary, reading vocabulary and writing vocabulary through wide reading, listening, discussion, book talks, viewing and studying author’s craft.

      Goal 2.08-Listen actively by facing the speaker, making eye contact, asking questions to clarify the message and asking questions to gain additional information and ideas.

      Goal 4.05 Know, discuss, and/or write about how an artist’s background and experiences are important in shaping the artist’s work.

      Goal 2.02 Identify symmetry and congruence with concrete materials and drawings.

      Goal 2.06 Estimate and measure length (inches).
      Social Studies:

    Goal 2.02 Analyze similarities and differences among communities in different times and in different places.

Description: After reading the story The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, the class will take part in a discussion about the story. For instance, the class will discuss the new words they learned, such as babushka (Grandmother) and discuss the Russian customs and traditions presented in this book. Next, the class will talk about the significance of the quilt in the story and the teacher will show the class a quilt in which he/she personally designed while explaining the meaning. This is a great opportunity for the teacher to share his/her background with students. The students will be able to design their own quilts with construction paper. The quilt must represent each individual person, such as when they were born, birth date, hobbies, favorite foods and so forth. The students will be given squares of construction paper to represent the patches of the quilt, in which they will glue to the background of the quilt. In addition, students will be encouraged to use markers and crayons to draw and decorate their quilts. The teacher will call attention to the sides of the squares and ask students to measure them in inches. They will notice that each side is the same
length (3 inches). Students can share their quilts with the class and a class quilt can be made by linking them all together and attaching them to a bulletin board to showcase artwork. This is a great activity for encouraging community within the classroom.

Differentiation: Reading the story aloud to the class, while showing them pictures from the story will help both auditory and visual learners. Providing an example of the quilt will aid the visual and global learners, while designing the quilts will help kinesthetic learners. Because students produce a visual representation, this project appeals to spatial intelligence. It is also good for logical learners because of the math involved. This project is also good for intrapersonal learners because they are creating quilts about themselves.

Assessment: The teacher will assess students through informal observation throughout class discussions and viewing the quilts.


  • The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco
  • Black or white construction paper for background of quilt
  • Multi-colored squares (3 inch sides) for quilt patches
  • Glue
  • Crayons, markers or colored pencils
Lesson 2

Title: “What do you know about other countries?”

NCSCOS and Content Areas:

      Social Studies:

      Goal 1 The learner will characterize qualities of good citizenship by identifying people who made a difference in the community and other social environments.

      Goal 2 The learner will analyze the multiple roles that individuals perform in families, workplaces, and communities.

      Goal 3 The learner will examine how individuals can initiate change in families, neighborhoods, and communities.

      Goal 2.1 Identify the technology tools used to collect, analyze, and display data.

    Goal 3.4 Evaluate the usefulness of information obtained using telecommunication technologies.

Description: After reading the book, The Keeping Quilt , by Patricia Polacco and doing the quilt follow-up activity, students will become more interested about learning of other countries and cultures. Students may work in pairs to choose a country other than the U.S. to research. The teacher should strongly encourage each group to choose a different country so the class will be able to learn about a variety of countries. This project will be completed over a period of two weeks and letters will be sent home to parents describing the project. The students will be allowed to use the internet and other reliable resource materials to find out some historical information about a particular country, in order to research what life is like for men, women and children who live there, as well as the location and climate of the country. The teacher should help students get started on this project by teaching students in the computer lab, the safe way to go about researching a particular topic. By doing this minilesson, students will have a better understanding of how to find reliable resources. At the end of the project unit, each pair will present the country they have researched in a variety of ways, such as: creating and acting in a short skit, creating a poster or hat to display information, making a song, poem or rap. Students may even choose to do a graphic organizer like a Venn diagram to show the likenesses and differences between the U.S. and the country they choose to research. (The assessment depends on the teacher and the ability level of the students.) Providing a variety of assessments for students to choose from will facilitate all types of learning styles. The teacher may even want to assign pairs for students, perhaps to create a more productive learning environment versus students choosing their own partners.
Differentiation: The variety of assessments previously listed can perhaps allow all types of students to excel. For instance, writing and singing songs can help students who possess musical intelligence, as well as verbal/linguistic intelligence. Designing and acting in a short skit can help those with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Also, working in pairs helps students improve on their interpersonal abilities, while creating a graphic organizer helps those with spatial intelligence.

Assessment: The teacher will provide students with choices, such as those mentioned above, in order to assess students’ knowledge concerning what they learned about the countries they researched.

Resources: computers with internet access

Lesson 3

Title: “Let’s Interview the Author!”

NCSCOS & Content Areas:

      Language Arts:

      Goal 1.04 Increase sight vocabulary, reading vocabulary, and writing vocabulary through: wide reading, word study, listening, discussion, book talks, book clubs, seminars, viewing, role play, studying author’s craft.

      Goal 1.05 Identify telecommunications technologies used to locate information.
      Informational Skills:

    Goal 1.10 Identify characteristics and advantages of various media formats (print, graphical, audio, video, multimedia, web-based) for a specific task.

Description: After completing the introductory tasks in this unit, the children will begin an in-depth study of author’s craft. Students will be given an interview sheet with questions about Patricia Polacco’s life and work. The interview sheet includes questions like “Where and when was Patricia Polacco born?” and “Where did Patricia Polacco get the ideas for her books?” Children will visit Patricia Polacco’s website and navigate the site to “interview” the author. Children will be given specific instructions about how to use the Internet safely. They will not be allowed to go to any other websites while online. They will also be given instructions about how to leave a message in the guest book without giving any contact information online. After children have completed the interview, they will be allowed to explore the rest of the website and read about Patricia’s books or play the games on the website.

Differentiation: This assignment will cater to linguistic learners because of the reading and writing involved. Teachers should expect to read through the material with some students, including ESOL students or others with low reading skills. This project is good for kinesthetic learners because they are actively working on the computer. Also, teachers could offer the opportunity to work in pairs for those who are interpersonal learners.

Assessment: Assessment will be the interview sheet that students fill out as they read about Patricia Polacco. Answers should be correct and written in complete sentences.

Computer access for students
Author interview worksheet (following)


Let’s Interview the Author!
1. When and where was Patricia Polacco born?

2. Why was living on a farm so important to her growing up?

3. From which people do you think Patricia learned to be respectful?

4. What is the city that Patricia refers to as magical”? (By the way, it is also where the meteor actually fell!)

5. What learning disability did Patricia find out she had when she was fourteen? Did she do better in school after learning about her disability?

6. Where does Patricia get her story ideas from?

7. Is there something you want to know about Patricia Polacco but did not find it on this website?

Lesson 4

Title: Reader’s Response Journal

NCSCOS & Content Areas

      Language Arts:

      Goal 4.02 Use oral and written language to: present information in a sequenced, logical manner, discuss, sustain conversation on a topic, share information and ideas, recount or narrate, answer open-ended questions, report information on a topic, explain own learning.

      Goal 4.10 Explore technology as a tool to create a written product.

    Goal 3.01 Create, save, and print a word-processed document.

Description: Children will be participating in writer’s workshops year-round, so by the time we get to this unit, they will be prepared for a reader’s response. Children will choose a Patricia Polacco book that they have read during the course of this author study to write about in their journal. Books will be provided in the classroom; however, children will also have the opportunity to visit the school’s media center and pick a Patricia Polacco book of their choosing. In a reader’s response journal, children will be allowed to write about anything they choose. However, open-ended questions will be provided for those students who need some scaffolding in their writing. Questions may include “Which character in the book you chose is most like you and why?” and “What did you learn from reading the book you chose to write about?” Children will be provided with a copy of the rubric when writing to guide them through their writing. After completing the journal entry, children will have an opportunity to type it into a word document and save their work.

Differentiation: This lesson caters to linguistic learners. It is also good for learners who are creative thinkers and would not do well on a multiple choice test. Grading this assignment using a rubric gives an opportunity to assess in a way that gives students a chance to achieve in a more authentic way. Assessing using a rubric also caters to global learners because they can use the rubric to determine what the finished product should look like before beginning writing. This assignment is good for intrapersonal learners because they work by themselves and write about personal connections to the stories.

Assessment/ Resources:
          Writing prompts of teacher’s choice
          Rubric provided

Reader’s Response Journal Rubric (15 points possible)

Exemplary: 5 points
Average: 3-4 points
Needs Work: 1-2 points

Journal entry clearly states title and author of book chosen.          
Response shows creativity and thoughtfulness, including connections made to the student’s own life or learning.

Journal entry consistently uses correct punctuation, capitalization, and subject/verb agreement.                              

Total Points:_____

Lesson 5

Title: “Thunder Cake Multiplication”

NCSCOS & Content Areas:


      Goal 1.13 Memorize multiplication facts/tables through 10.

      Goal 2.01 Identify the technology tools used to collect, analyze, and display data.

Description: I created this board game based on Patricia Polacco’s book Thunder Cake . Before beginning the game, the teacher reads aloud Thunder Cake to the class so they are familiar with the story. This game focuses on multiplication skills. The students would work in partners (probably during a center time) to play the game. Students take turns drawing a card from the pile. Each card has a multiplication problem on it which the student must solve and draw the representative array. After solving the problem, the student is to check his or her answer using a calculator. If his or her answer is correct, he or she moves the number of spaces indicated on the card. The first one to reach the end of the board wins the game.

Differentiation: This activity is good for children who have difficulty memorizing facts. By drawing the arrays, children can count to find the answers to the problems. Counting chips can be provided for kinesthetic learners who need to physically create the array before writing it down. The use of calculators gives the children a notion of independence by being able to check their own answers. This task caters to logical learners because of its focus on math. It is also good for interpersonal learners because there is pair work involved.

Assessment: As the children play this game, they self-assess by checking their answers on a calculator. They should also write the multiplication problem they draw from the card pile, draw the array, and write the answer to turn in to the teacher. This way, the teacher can check to make sure arrays are drawn correctly and correct answers were indicated.

Resources: Thunder Cake

      by Patricia Polacco

      Game Provided

    Manipulatives if necessary

Lesson 6

Title: “All About Authors”

NCSCOS & Content Areas:

      Language Arts:

      Goal 1.03 Integrate prior experiences and all sources of information in the text (graphophonic, syntactic, and semantic) when reading orally and silently.

      Goal 3.01 Respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using interpretive, critical, and evaluative processes by: considering the differences among genres, relating plot, setting, and characters to own experiences and ideas, considering main character’s point of view, participating in creative interpretations, making inferences and drawing conclusions about characters and events, reflecting on learning, gaining new insights, and identifying areas for further study.

      Goal 4.04 Use planning strategies (with assistance) to generate topics and to organize ideas (e.g., drawing, mapping, discussing, listing).

      Goal 5.08 Create readable documents with legible handwriting.
      Social Studies:

      Goal 2.01 Distinguish and compare economic and social roles of children and adults in the local community to selected communities around the world.

      Goal 6.01 Describe and asses ways in which technology is used in a community’s economy
      Informational Skills:

      Goal 1.01 Participate in read-aloud, storytelling, booktalking, silent and voluntary reading experiences.

      Goal 1.05 Identify elements of composition

    Goal 1.01 Identify uses of technology in the community and how it has changed people’s lives.

Description: This is a WebQuest titled “All About Authors.” Children visit this WebQuest to learn about how a book is made. There is a slide show that the children read that describes the step-by-step process of creating a book. It begins with the author’s idea and rough draft, and explains what the jobs are of the author, illustrator, editor, and publisher. Children read this information in pairs for those who are not strong readers. After reading about the process, children will create a brochure or poster that shows the book making process. This can be done individually or in pairs. Children have the opportunity to visit authors’ websites and read several books by the author of their choice. They should include information about this author in their project.

Differentiation: This project is good for linguistic learners because of the reading involved. It is also good for spatial and artistic learners because of the culminating project. The project caters to both interpersonal and intrapersonal students because the children may choose to work alone or in pairs. Teachers should expect to provide assistance for ESOL students or those who otherwise have low reading skills. Children can choose the author they read, providing them the opportunity to choose someone who writes on their level and about something that interests them.

Projects will be evaluated using a rubric.

Rubric provided on website

E-Mail Brandi Stephens !

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