In school, Amber Brown has fun with her class's globe-trotting adventures, like taking imaginary plane trips to China. But in real life, Amber is worried about all the traveling that is going on around her: Her best friend, Justin, has flown to Alabama with his family to look for a new house; and her father has left to live in Paris. Amber says, "This is definitely the worst year of my life, the very, very, very, very worst." With her mother's help, however, and some brownie mix, Amber discovers that good friends never really have to lose one another.
Amber learns that her best friend, Justin, is moving away. She must start to think about making new friends.
Have your class brainstorm a list of qualities that your students look for in their friends. You may want to pose these questions to your students:
- What does it mean to be a good friend?
- What makes someone a best friend?
- What is rewarding and fun about a friendship?
Show and Tell and Sing!
Organize a Friendship Show-and-Tell in your classroom. Ask your students to bring in a picture, an object, a song, or some other memento from a friendship of theirs. Then, have each student share his or her friendship item with the class and tell why it is important to his or her friendship. What special object would Amber choose for her friendship with Justin?
Here are some suggestions of songs about friendship:
- "You're My Best Friend" by Rick Charette
- "All My Friends" by Tom Chapin
- "Friends" by Bete Midler
- "Free to Be, You and Me" by Marlo Thomas and Friends
Stay in Touch
How do you keep in touch with friends who move away? Have your students pair up to write letters to each another — one as Amber Brown writing from New Jersey and the other as Justin Daniels writing from Alabama. Encourage them to write about their new lives and friends, as well as about the things that they — as Amber and Justin — miss doing together.
Celebrate Someone Special
Amber has a "Dad Book" where she keeps special mementos that remind her of her father. Have your students create their own "special someone book" starring a significant person (or pet!) in their lives. Together, brainstorm ideas about what your students might want to put in their books to signify their special relationships. Encourage students to use photographs, drawings, letters, cards, notes, ticket stubs or anything else that holds happy memories.
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
Amber thinks about what she and Justin will become when they grow up. Maybe they will open their own company — she'll be president one week and he'll be president the next. They'll sell jars of cake icing and boxes of cookies, and they will travel around the world trying out new flavors of chewing gum. Encourage your students to think about their own dreams for the future. What do they what to be when they grow up? Create a "When We Grow Up" bulletin board with your students' written and illustrated ideas and dreams.
Mr. Cohen, Amber's teacher, helps his class learn about different countries by taking imaginary airplane trips. You can choose Mr. Cohen's same whimsical travel approach in your classroom.
- Have your students vote on a travel destination.
- Before takeoff, your students should research and learn all about the country they are going to visit. Display books, travel literature, and maps for the students to explore and enjoy. You may want to divide the class into small groups, each group studying a particular area of interest — art, architecture, music, food, geography, and government.
- Before stepping onto the imaginary plane, have students make their own passports.
- Like Mr. Cohen, you can organize the chairs in the classroom so that they appear like seats in an airplane. Designate a few students to serve as "flight attendants," who can pass out individually wrapped bags of pretzels and prepare the class for takeoff.
- Fasten your seatbelts and let the fun begin!
Amber's class makes postcards from China during their imaginary visit. Have your students create their own postcards from the travel destination of their dreams! Before beginning, have them think about what pictures they will draw on their postcards, who they will send their postcards to, and what they will write.