Making Connections



  1. Do-It Dramas Invite student partners to choose an illustration in the book to act out in pantomime for classmates to guess. Encourage respondents to tell not only what the action is (e.g. shearing sheep), but also (1.) what resource or resources are being used (e.g., wool), and (2.) why the family is using this resource (e.g., to make yarn for clothing to wear or sell.)
  2. Story Extensions Brainstorm a list of ways to add to the story, such as making up a conversation between two of the characters, writing and illustrating some pages to tell what the ox-cart family does in the summer, or retelling the story to set it in today's world. Invite interested students to work independently or with a partner to extend the story and present it to the class.


Social Studies:

Seasonal Why's Through a field trip to a farm, students can investigate how farmers today organize their tasks around seasonal considerations, just as did the long-ago farmers described in the story. You might divide the class into groups of four (one for each season) and ask each group to pay special attention to what the farmer-interviewee does in that season and why he or she must do it then. Develop a bulletin board display based on the class trip: (1.) your drawing at the center of a farm family; (2.) four spokes from the center to the labels Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall; (3.) under each label, the groups' pictures and sentences describing the seasonal farm work.


Panorama pictures Invite students to choose an illustration in the book and then make a picture showing how a modern family might work toward the same goal. For example, the picture of the woman at the loom and her daughter sewing suggests buying from bolts of fabric, using a sewing machine, or shopping for clothes in a department store. Display the finished pictures around the room in a sequence that approximately follows the sequence in the book. Suggest that students tell about the boy and girl in the book on a tour of today's world.

Creative Writing

Sequence Poems Reread the paragraphs in the story that are like catalogue poems which—line by line—add details that work back to an original resource. For example:

“He packed five pairs of mittens
his daughter knit
from yarn spun at the spinning wheel
from sheep sheared in April.”

Invite students to compose orally lines for a group catalogue poem tracing an ordinary product back to its source. Copy the poem on the chalkboard or on poster paper. Example:

I ate an apple
That was bought at a store
That got it by truck
From a farmer who works
To grow apple trees.

Suggest that students copy and illustrate the group poem and take their work home to share with their families.