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Lesson Plan 1


Social Studies  



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Ben and Me

Lesson Plan 1: Who Was Benjamin Franklin, Really?

Pre-reading activity and initial lesson

Alex Johnson-Jimenez
5th Grade Classroom


Students will be able to identify traits that represent Benjamin Franklin and then evaluate Internet sites or articles from an interactive encyclopedia in an effort to judge whether their identified traits are accurate or false.

Materials Needed:

  • Text set of Ben and Me by Robert Lawson
  • Plain white paper
  • Cluster worksheet–see attached example
  • Computers with Internet access and CD-ROM
  • Microsoft Encarta or similar computer reference program
  • Small mouse in a cage–if animals are allowed in the school otherwise a stuffed mouse will do.
  • List of instructions for caring for the mouse-you will need to find this out from the pet store.
  • Books about Massachusetts
  • Mouse shaped journal cover–See pattern
  • Manila folders
  • Daily Journal sheets
  • My Private Dictionary

Estimated Time: 60 minutes


After the texts have been passed out, have a student read the title of the book and ask,

“Who do you think is this Ben person that the book is about?” Take answers. Someone will recognize the picture and identify the person as Benjamin Franklin. “O.K. so who do you think is the me in this book?” Once the me is identified as the mouse, retrieve the cage with the mouse and place it at the front of the room or someplace where everyone can see it. “This is a distant relative of the mouse in our story and he will be joining us as we read and study this book. Does anybody know the name of the mouse in the story?” Once someone figures out that the name is Amos, tell the class that the mouse in the cage is also named Amos, after its great-great-great-great-grandfather. Give students about five minutes to get out of their seats and gather around the mouse. Take this opportunity to explain how each group will take turns on a daily basis for caring for the mouse. Read and model the procedures for feeding, cleaning, and watering Amos.

Total time: 7 min.


  1. Once all the children have had an opportunity to view Amos, have them return to their seats and take up their books.
  2. Begin searching for what they know about Benjamin Franklin by asking such questions as:
    1. “Who is Benjamin Franklin?”
    2. “What do you think he is famous for?”
    3. “Where was he born?”
    4. “What did he do for a living?”

    If they can’t answer some of these questions, do not answer them for them. The students will find out the answers later.

    Total time: 5 min.

  3. Do explain, however, that he was born in Boston. Ask if anyone knows where Boston is. When students have guessed correctly or fail to do so, inform them that Boston is in the state of Massachusetts. Ask if any student can identify Massachusetts on a map. Take volunteers to go to the map at the front or back of the room and guess where Massachusetts is on the map.

    Total time: 2 min.

  4. Have students pass out the books on Massachusetts to each group. Depending on the number of books you have collected, each group should get two to three books.
  5. On the board write a series of short questions such as:
    1. “What is the weather like in Massachusetts during all the seasons?”
    2. “What is the terrain like in Massachusetts?”
    3. “What is the national bird and flower of Massachusetts?”
    4. “What are some historical events that happened in Massachusetts?”

    Discuss the findings and write some of the answers on the board so all can see. Collect the books.

    Total time: 8 min.

  6. Pass out the mouse shaped journal logs.
  7. Have students read the inside cover of their book. Ask what they think the story is about and to write their answers in their journals. Total time: 3 min.
  8. Acknowledge that the book is about Benjamin Franklin’s life from the perspective of Amos.
  9. Read the first 2 chapters aloud to them so that they get a feel for how the story is written and level of the vocabulary. After the first part, stop and hand out the cluster sheet.

    Total time: 6 min.

  10. Read the directions aloud as they follow along.
  11. Give the students approximately 20 minutes to begin and inform them that they will be able to finish tomorrow if they do not get done.


  1. The teacher will observe the students as they work in their small group and assess their contribution to the task.
  2. The teacher will observe how students work independently and manage their time and materials.
  3. The cluster worksheet has four areas or jobs that he is famous for and is neatly designed.


  1. Journal topic, “What do you think Benjamin is most famous for and why?”
  2. Add the following words to your private dictionary: manuscript and patron.
  3. Add 2 words of your own from the chapters to your dictionary.


Adapted from Linda Scott’s Ben and Me Cyberguide and the San Diego County Office of Education.


(Click here for the Mouse Shaped Journal Cover)

(Click here for the Cluster Worksheet)

(Click here for Daily Journal sheets)

(Click here for My Private Dictionary)

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