Bring Hispanic American author Pam Muñoz Ryan into your classroom with discussion guides, lesson plans, and author interviews.
About the Book
Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were both a lot alike. Both of them were outspoken, both were opinionated, and they both did what they believed in, no matter what people said. So it made perfect sense that the two women were friends. In April 1933, Eleanor was entertaining Amelia and her husband at the White House. Before dessert, the two women left to take a midnight plane ride over Washington, DC in Amelia Earhart's plane. Based on a true story.
Before Reading the Book
Ask your students what they know about Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt. If they are unsure of who these famous figures are, share some basic facts with your class. For example:
- Amelia Earhart was born in 1897. As a child, she watched WWI planes go by and vowed to fly one day, even though women at that time did not fly airplanes. She earned her pilot's license, and in 1932, became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, as well as setting a new record. In 1937, she had almost completed a flight around the world when her plane disappeared in the Pacific region. Her disappearance remains a mystery to this day.
- Eleanor Roosevelt was born in 1884. She was a niece of popular former president Teddy Roosevelt, and when she lost both her parents, was raised by a stern grandmother. She married her cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who became president in 1933 during the Great Depression. As First Lady, Eleanor worked hard to help the poor, the unemployed, and those who were discriminated against. Her husband died in 1945, but even then she continued to work hard for her political and social beliefs. She died in 1962.
Biographies of these women include:
- Amelia Earhart: Pioneer of the Sky by John Parlin
- Flying Ace: The Story of Amelia Earhart by Angela Bull
- A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart by David Adler
- A Picture Book of Eleanor Roosevelt by David Adler
- Eleanor by Barbara Cooney
Amelia and Eleanor were pioneers and role models for women. Divide your students into groups, and ask each group to research another famous woman who changed the course of history, like Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Sacajawea, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, and Sally Ride. Each group should write a collective biography and present it to the class.
Also, discuss with your class the obstacles that women have had to overcome to get where they are today. Do they know that women once couldn't vote, work outside the home, wear pants, or play sports? Ask your students to name some modern female role models.
Up, Up, and Away!
Amelia Earhart was an important figure in the history of flight. She changed the way people viewed women's participation in flying airplanes. Encourage your class to learn more about the history of flight. Some basic dates to study are:
1903: The Wright Flyer is the first airplane to successfully complete a flight.
1927: Charles Lindbergh completes the first solo transatlantic flight in his Spirit of St. Louis
1947: The Glamorous Glennis is the first aircraft to travel the speed of sound.
1957: Sputnik 1 is the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.
1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon and complete the first moon walk.
Assign small groups of students a specific time period to study in the history of flight. Ask them to create a time line of their period on a piece of poster board. Then hang up the posters in your classroom, and you will have a super time line that details the history of flight! An extension of this activity could be to require each group to build or draw a model of a plane from their time period, so that you could visually see the evolution of flight.
There are many web links available that cover the history of flight. Here are a couple:
Dinner at the White House
In Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, Eleanor Roosevelt is entertaining guests at the White House in Washington, DC. Whether you live near Washington, DC or not, your class can take an imaginary or virtual tour of the White House to learn more about it. Some good books your students can read to learn more about the White House are:
- A Kid's Guide to the White House by Betty Debnam
- Ghosts of the White House by Cheryl Harness
You can also go online the official White House site. Here you can learn about the building of the White House, the various presidents and their first ladies who have lived there, and White House traditions and stories.
A few fun White House facts:
- During World War I, Woodrow Wilson let sheep graze on the White House lawn.
- The White House was once a brownstone building. However, it became charred from fire in 1814 when the British captured Washington, D.C. White paint covered up the damage, and it has been white ever since.
- You may know that President Obama has a dog named Bo, but did you know that Calvin Coolidge had a pet raccoon, Andrew Jackson had a parrot, and John Quincy Adams kept a pet alligator?
Come as a Famous Person Day
Each student will pick a famous historical figure that interests them. (You may restrict it to historical figures you have studied in social studies, or you may leave it open to anyone they like.) Each student will use classroom resources or the school library to research their person, and to write a short biography. On a given day, students will come to class dressed as their famous person, and will present their biography to the class. You might also ask them to stay in the character of their famous person for a little while, and try to talk and act the way that they did!
Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride takes place in 1933. Ask your students to imagine what it would be like if they were living back then. The United States had fallen into the Great Depression, and people were poor all over the country. Everyone was looking for work, and they were traveling around the country in Model T cars or hitching rides on trains. Times were especially hard for farmers in rural America. It wasn't until America entered World War II that the economy began to pick up.
Ask your students to use one of the story prompts below to write a short story from the point of view of someone who was alive during the Great Depression.
- You have been invited by Amelia Earhart to come fly with her. Where would you go? What would the world look like from her plane?
- You live on a farm in Oklahoma with your parents and four brothers and sisters. Times are hard and it's up to you, as the oldest, to go seeking work. Where would you go? How would you get there? What would you do to survive once you got there?
- You are a kid in a crowded orphanage in a big city like New York or Chicago. You hate living at the orphanage, and decide to run away and find a place to live on your own. How would you escape? What sort of people and adventures would you encounter? Where would you finally find a home?