Locomotion Extension Activity
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12
1. Throughout the book, Lonnie is encouraged by his fifth grade teacher Ms. Marcus who really makes an impact on him. Imagine that Ms. Marcus is writing an e-mail or letter to another teacher friend in which she describes her fifth grade class, including Lonnie. What would she say about Lonnie and about his class? How does she view her job as a teacher? Write a letter as though you are Ms. Marcus, and share your thoughts and feelings about your job, your class, and Lonnie.
Ms. Marcus told Lonnie that he had the "soul of a poet." She appreciates his honesty, his insight, and his transparency in writing about his past. She would admire Lonnie's tender heart and the way he has coped with tragedy. About her class, Ms. Marcus would express both compassion and confusion. She is devoted to teaching minority students in a city school, but at times she feels the gap between her own middle-class lifestyle and her students' lifestyles.
2. Lonnie's story in Locomotion is not told in chronological order; instead Lonnie tells his story as the memories come to him. Create a time-line of his life, starting with his birth and going up to fifth grade, using as many of the events from the novel as you can in the order they happened. Illustrate your time-line with small pictures or symbols for each event, and use a color key to show what each experience meant to Lonnie. For example, you might write his painful experiences in red, his happy experiences in yellow, and his learning experiences in green.
This activity asks students to summarize the major events of Lonnie's life and is a helpful way to review the novel. Also, since Lonnie's story is not told chronologically, with this activity students are challenged to put the events of the story in sequential order.
3. Try to imitate Lonnie's poetic style. Choose a memory or story of your own, and write it like he does in a few, carefully chosen words. Try to pay attention to spacing and line breaks, and give your poem a title. When you're finished, illustrate your poem, using colors to show the mood your poem portrays.
This activity gives students the opportunity to experiment with free verse poetry like Lonnie writes. Students should be encouraged to keep their stories short, like Lonnie's, using only the most precise, vivid words. When completed, students should share their memories with their classmates.