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Lesson Plan 2: Words Of Wisdom To Live By


Social Studies  



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Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5


Unit Test

Ben & Me

Lesson Plan 2: Words Of Wisdom To Live By

Alex Johnson-Jimenez
5th Grade Classroom


Students will use critical thinking skills to evaluate 3 of Benjamin Franklin’s 26 famous Maxims. Students will develop their maxim (words of wisdom) for young people.

Materials Needed:

  • Computers with Internet access
  • Microsoft Encarta or Bookshelf with the Quote book (optional)
  • Fortune cookies
  • Benjamin Franklin’s Famous Maxims worksheet
  • Drawing or copy paper
  • Rulers
  • Paper punch
  • Yarn
  • Copy of Words of Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin for students who will not use the computer

Estimated Time: 65 min


After students are asked to clear their desks except for their Ben and Me books, place one fortune cookie in front of each student. Instruct the students not to open the cookies until you have given them permission to do so.

Once all the students have a cookie in front of them, ask students, “What do you have in front of you?” Take answers (it will be obvious to the students that it’s a fortune cookie). “What is a fortune cookie?” Take several answers since this is a little more vague.

Have students open their cookies and read their fortunes to their group. Ask for several volunteers to read their fortunes aloud. Write some of these on the board and ask students to think about what they mean. Discuss possible meanings for one or two minutes.

Inform the students that you will be getting back to fortunes and Words of Wisdom later in the period, but for now they can eat their cookies as you read chapter 3 and they follow along in their books.

Total time: 5 min.


  1. Read chapters 3 and 4 aloud to the students as they follow along. I believe that it is important to walk about the room as you read.
    Total time: 7 min
  2. After you have read chapters 3 and 4, tell students that they will have 10 minutes to read chapter 5 in their small groups. Members in the group will take turns reading from the chapter as the others follow along. Each person should read one page. This usually works well by going around in a circle.
    Total time: 10 min.
  3. Once the timer sounds, have students get out their journals. On the board write, “What will happen in chapter 5?” Give students 3 minutes to write what they think will happen next and why.
    Total time: 3 min.
  4. Ask, “Does anyone know what the word maxim means?” Chances are that no one has heard of this word, so after a few guesses or absolute silence, explain that a maxim is a type of saying or adage. Give examples such as “the early bird gets the worm” or “do onto others as you would want done onto you”. Having explained what a maxim is, ask if the fortunes found in the cookies could be considered a type of maxim. Ask, “does anyone know any famous maxims?” Students will probably provide several famous words of wisdom or sayings.
    Total time: 5 min.
  5. Explain that today they are going to review 26 maxims that were created by Benjamin Franklin.
  6. Hand out the worksheet entitled, Benjamin Franklin’s Famous Maxims and read the directions aloud as they follow along. Check for understanding by having students repeat, in their own words, what they are to do. Chances are that there will not be enough computers for each student or group of students, so assign one or two groups to a computer to do the research. The remaining groups will get a copy of the Internet site that the other students will be looking up. Total time: 15 min.
  7. Once the timer sounds, have students return to their seats. Ask for volunteers to share which maxim they chose and what they believe it means. Discuss their ideas without passing judgment on their analysis of the maxim. Many people believe his maxims mean many different things and therefore there are no right answers. What the teacher really wants to evaluate at this point is the student’s ability to think critically and relate the maxim to their own lives based upon their interpretation.
    Total time: 5 min.
  8. Hand out blank pieces of drawing paper and one lined sheet of paper to each student. Inform the students that while we can still live by many of Benjamin Franklin’s maxims, that many do not apply to the way that we live today. Therefore, each student is going to develop a maxim or words of wisdom that young people can live by today. Explain that maxims can be short or long, but the shorter the better, because they are easier to memorize. Explain the procedure as follows (demonstrate as you explain):
    1. On the lined sheet of paper, write as many different maxims as you can think of…this is the brainstorming part of the assignment.
    2. Under each maxim that you create, you should explain what it means to you and why you believe the maxim would be helpful words of wisdom.
    3. Once you have finished and have found one maxim you really like, go to the white paper.
    4. Take the white sheet of paper and fold it in half from top to bottom.
    5. With a ruler, measure down from the folded edge 1-inch on the left side of the page and again on the right side of the page.
    6. Connect the marks with a pencil so that you have a straight line across the top of the fold paper.
    7. Place a ruler across the line and put a mark at 1-½ inches and a mark at 7-inches.
    8. Using the paper punch, punch a hole at the marks you made at 1-½ inches and at 7-inches.
    9. You can now erase the straight line if you wish.
    10. Unfold the paper and you should have four holes near the fold.
    11. Now, on the bottom of the page mark 1-inch from the bottom on the left side and again at the right side.


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

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