What Do Stories Share? (3-5)

3, 4, 5

Learners will use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the stories, Leo, the Late Bloomer and Thank You, Mr. Falker. Learners will examine differences in rate of student development and employ the themes of philanthropy to develop tolerance and respect.

PrintThree Forty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast two stories, Leo, the Late Bloomer and Thank You, Mr. Falker, using a Venn diagram.
  • write to a central theme using the writing process.
  • illustrate the central theme.
  • apply philanthropy themes in the writing process: Respect, Trust, Tolerance, Selflessness, Selfishness
  • Literature books from Lesson One: Late Bloomers and Lesson Two: Teaching Peace through Literature and Song- Leo, the Late Bloomer and Thank You, Mr. Falker (see Bibliographical References).
  • Two hula hoops of different colors
  • Colored 3 x 5 index cards or slips of paper cut to size
  • Paper for writing
  • Paper for illustrating
  • Markers or crayons
  • Venn diagram overhead (see attachment)
  • Kraus, Robert. Leo, the Late Bloomer. Harper Collins Juvenile Books, 1994. ISBN:006443348X
  • Polacco, Patricia. Thank You, Mr. Falker. Scholastic Paperback, 1998. ISBN: 043909836


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    First forty-minute class period:

    Enter classroom twirling two hula-hoops in a way the teacher feels comfortable. Ask children, “How are the hula hoops the same?” and “How are the hula-hoops different?”


  2. Explain to the children the purpose of a Venn diagram. Set up the hula-hoops in the shape of a Venn diagram on the classroom floor. Label each hoop with the book titles, Leo, the Late Bloomer and Thank You, Mr. Falker . Divide the children into diverse groups of no more than five. Give each group five-index cards. Each group will review the two books read during Lesson One: Late Bloomers and Lesson Two: Teaching Peace through Literature and Song , and write key points on each card. After approximately ten minutes, have the children stand around the hula-hoops and place their cards into the appropriate circles. Look for similarities between the stories and place those cards where the hula-hoops loop or intersect. If there are no cards with similarities, generate discussion of similarities and make cards to place in the Venn diagram.

  3. Discuss differences in the stories and write those differences, calling attention to the parts of the Venn Diagram which show differences.

  4. Grades 3-5 Extension: Each group is to complete a Venn Diagram.

  5. Using learner recollection of the two stories, discuss the philanthropy content:

  6. Selfishness and selflessness, trust, tolerance, respect, the classroom as a community.

    Instructor Note: The teacher needs to copy the hula-hoop information onto the Venn overhead to use as a reference the next class period.

    Second class period:

  7. Put the Venn diagram overhead up for the children to see their previous class period's work. Ask the children to look over the differences and similarities in the two stories and ask, “Is there a central theme to the stories?” An example would be: respect for your peers. Brainstorm theme topics and write their thoughts on the board or overhead. Pick one central theme to write about. Provide writing prompt for the children. Example: “Write about a time when you had difficulty learning a new task.” Include supporting sentences from one or both of the stories. Lead the children through the writing process: prewriting discussion of prompt and the rough draft. After the forty minutes are up, have the children put their drafts away until the next class period.

  8. Instructional Procedure: (Continued)

    If the children are too young to do this on their own, they can write either in small groups or do a teacher-led writing sample. Learners may also tape record their responses to the prompt.

    Rubric for Writing Prompt

    4 points

    Topic sentence present, at least two supporting pieces of information on their own difficult time with new task and two from their stories. More than one story was used in examples. The writer participated in pre-writing, writing the first draft, peer editing and final writing. The student was an active participant in the peer editing of others' work. The final work demonstrated proficiency and competency in the writing process.

    3 points

    Topic sentence present. An example from their personal history and one from the stories is given. The writer participated in three elements of the writing process. The final product demonstrated proficiency in the writing process.

    2 points

    Topic sentence present and one example is given from a story read. The writer participated in at least two elements of the writing process.

    1 point

    An attempt was made to respond to the prompt although the student did not participate in the peer editing.

    At the early elementary level, it is suggested that the instructor develop a rubric for recorded responses.

    Third class period:

  9. Ask a volunteer to let you use his/her draft to model revising and editing. If at all possible, do this ahead of time and make an overhead of the draft. Ask the children to help revise and edit with the teacher. The student who volunteers his/her paper usually likes this because some of the revisions are done for him/her. Give the children time to revise and edit their own papers or work with a partner. After revising and editing are complete, let the children copy their work over by hand or use a word processor.

  10. If children are too young to do this on their own, they can revise and edit in small groups or the teacher can lead them through this process.

  11. If time permits, and depending upon the age of the class, children can illustrate their writing samples.


Teacher observation Rubric Quiz on comprehension of stories

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define the word <em>trust</em> and its role in all communities.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.
      2. Benchmark E.8 Describe classroom behaviors that help the students learn.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.