- Watch a video version of The Prince and the Pauper
- Compare a dramatic version to a non-print version
- Analyze, compare, and contrast characters
- Write letters to a character from the point of view of another character
- Create a new ending to the play
- Paper and pencil
- Class set of The Prince and the Pauper (PDF) from Scope Magazine, September 3, 1993. (If you choose to use the actual novel for a longer study of the story, you'll want to stretch the center activities to coincide with the time frame of your lesson plans.)
- One or more videos of The Prince and the Pauper
- Center Rubric (PDF) for assessment
- Center Slips (PDF)
- Character Perspectives, Events, and Support (PDF) from Graphic Organizers and Activities for Differentiated Instruction in Reading
- New Ending Form (PDF) from Instant Independent Reading Response Activities
Set Up and Prepare
- Distribute the Center Slips for each area and set out the following
Center 1: Paper, pencilsYou will need to set up the learning centers on Day Three.
Center 2: Copies of Character, Perspectives, Events, and Support sheet, pencils
Center 3: Drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils
Center 4: Paper, pencils
Center 5: Copies of the New Ending forms, pencils
- Copy the Center Rubric for each student, if you plan to grade the students' center work.
- Decide how you want to present the play. I would suggest reading aloud Scenes 1 and 2 from Scope Magazine in a whole class setting in order to model appropriate intonation and dramatic interpretation. Afterwards, divide the class into groups, assign each group a scene, give the students time to rehearse, and allow each group to perform the play. Set up your classroom accordingly.
Day One - Two
Step 1: Share with students that they will be learning about a popular piece of historical fiction called The Prince and the Pauper. Distribute copies of Scope Magazine and ask students to make predictions about the story based on the picture on the front cover.
Step 2: Turn to page 2 and note the list of characters as a standard text structure for drama.
Step 3: Remind students of the presentation each pair made during lesson one on Mark Twain, his life, and his style of writing. Note that he writes in a way that even his simplest messages have hidden meanings. Encourage students to look for the commentary on Renaissance England daily life as demonstrated by Twain's characterizations.
Step 4: Assign the parts of Narrator 1 and Narrator 2 to two different students in your class, and have them read Scene One aloud. Discuss how Tom lives his life. Ask students: Do you believe that Tom is a happy boy? Who seems to be a positive influence in Tom's life? Why did Mark Twain write his novel to have the boys born on the exact same day?
Step 5: Reassign the parts of Narrator 1 and Narrator 2 and select students to read the parts for Scene 2. Pause and discuss the cause-and-effect events leading up to "The Switch." Ask students to list the causes and effects in either list or timeline form in order to understand how the characters spiral into switching places.
Step 6: Divide students into groups to dramatize the rest of the play. This may take an extra day, but the goal is for students to understand the story.
Step 7: Finally, allow the students to act out the play and enjoy the story. This is a story both girls and boys will appreciate, so let students have fun.
Day Three - Four
Step 1: Set up the learning centers, and give students one or two full class periods to rotate through them all in small groups. For the centers to work best, arrange your desks into tables so students can communicate if necessary.
Step 2: Centers one, three, and four are described in detail on the Center Slips. The written activities in centers two and five are explained on the printables. Here's a brief overview of the center activities and learning objectives.
Center 2: Students will complete the Character, Perspectives, Events, and Support sheet within groups, completing either one form per group or per student. They will label Character #1 as Tom Canty and Character #2 as Prince Edward VI. They should then discuss the evidence and perspectives as recorded on the sheet.
Center 3: In this center, students will design their own official seals that they'd use to sign orders into laws. Explain that seals in this time period served as a sort of stamp, so students will be creating the image that would display after stamping their seal. They can use drawing paper and write a paragraph explaining the personal level of information included on the seal.
Center 4: Students will write a one-page letter from one character in the story to another. Encourage each student to choose an original author and recipient. If time allows, have students share letters with one another in groups.
Center 5: Using copies of New Ending forms, students will write a new ending to the play. Explain that they may start where the play ends or possibly pick up at the end of Scene Nine. Students will share the endings in the center groups.
Step 3: Students will collect all activities completed in the five centers and turn the products in for a grade. For grading suggestions, see the Center Rubric.
Day Five - Six
Note: Most students are able to learn visually, so I prefer to allow the students to sit back and enjoy a film. If you'd prefer to have a comprehension activity, there are numerous graphic organizers and mini-lesson ideas in my Booklist. After Day Three and Four of this lesson, I prefer to have my students relax and absorb information presented in the films.
Step 1: Explain to the students that you'll be showing a film version of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. Remind students that the play did not include all details from Twain's book so the movie should provide more background information.
Supporting All Learners
- By allowing students to work cooperatively, most learners should have the necessary assistance.
- If a student chooses to work alone, be sure to explain that the same end result is expected when the student makes the presentation. Check in with them often.
- For struggling students, you could offer another film viewing: the Mickey Mouse cartoon classic. For students on a higher level, suggest they read the full Twain novel as supplemental reading. Note: As The Prince and the Pauper is a Core Knowledge text for 6th grade, I have used the full novel in the past. It has an 8th-grade readability, so many of my average students struggled with the vocabulary. This is why I began to use the Scope Magazine version of the story so that I could focus on themes and characters instead of dealing with arduous vocabulary.
Several movie adaptations offer new endings to Twain's stories. As a follow-up activity, you could have each "center" group from Days Three-Four choose the best ending written by their group member. You could also offer up the one from the film and ask students to vote between the film and student endings and offer a prize to the winner.
Dinner Table Topic: Invite students to ask their parents this question: "If you could switch places with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?" This would be a great conversation starter with everyone around the dinner table.
1. Center Work
- How did the students do with reading the play aloud?
- Did the option to perform the scenes encourage students to play or were they able to stay focused on the task?
- For Days Three & Four, were there too many activities or too few activities? Which ones were completed successfully?
- Were there any activities that the students may not have been adequately prepared for in advance?
- How was the movie? Did the kids enjoy it or did they seem bored? Would it be more effective to show film clips instead of the entire thing?
Use the Center rubric to score each student's center products. If necessary, create a short quiz on the movie to ensure students paid attention. Another appropriate activity would be a journal entry comparing and contrasting the Scope story to the one in the movie.