Maeve Visser Knoth: Lesson plan for "The Egypt Game"

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Lesson plan for "The Egypt Game"

Here are some thoughts I've had on one lesson plan for a fifth and sixth grade class beginning The Egypt Game by Zipha Keatley Snyder.

Start by asking the students to write down their expectations for the story as they look at the book itself. Will this be a funny book or a serious one? Can you tell anything about the characters? What do you expect to happen?

As the students write their predictions I would insist that they support each idea with examples from the book itself. Why do they think this will be a funny book? Is it because the children on the cover are smiling? In fact the important aspect of this assignment is not to make correct predictions, but to begin teaching the idea that when thinking about literature, students must back up their opinions with material from the book itself.

Once they have read the first 50 pages, there are lots of interesting issues ripe for discussion. If the group has some experience working in small groups, I would post several questions, ask groups to pick two to discuss, and set them off with the charge of coming back to the group with their opinions on the following topics:

*How are April and Melanie's lives different from yours? How are they the same?

*What do you know so far about the Professor? Why do you imagine that he is part of the story?

*What do you know about April's mother Dorothea? How does April feel about her? How do you know? How do you feel about her? Do you have different information than April?

*How does Mrs. Snyder create tension? How does she keep you turning the pages?

In every case I would insist that the students back up their thoughts with evidence from the text.

Once they have read through page 75 I would introduce point-of-view: Who is telling this story? How do you know? How does this inform the story?

To follow-up on this idea of "point-of-view" explore the issue of "prisoners of fear" in the recent chapter. When a murder takes place in the neighborhood, the parents react by keeping the children at home. April and Melanie are no longer able to play the Egypt Game since they have to stay home. They consider the murder something interesting but a nuisance since it interrupts their lives. They make costumes instead of playing outside.

I suggest having the students draw slips of paper out of a hat that will tell them which point of view they have to take: do they approach the question of safety from the parents' point-of-view or from the kids'? How would the parents argue their case? How would the kids argue for renewed freedom? How would the chapter change if this were a novel told from the parents' point-of-view? Even the title "Prisoners of Fear" might be different.

Depending on the tone in the classroom, the students could do this alone, in small groups or as a class.

Possible Homework: Finish reading through page 103. The kids should probably also have a vocabulary list from this book so for homework they could search the first half of the book for five words they do not know. They can collect the words, write down the page they found the word and look up the words. At the end of the week turn in the list of five words with definitions. In a week or two they can collect five more words and at the end of the book have individualized vocabulary tests.


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