Teach students to recognize and appreciate differences in people's perspectives with these lessons, including a letter writing exercise that allows students to put themselves in others' shoes.
- Identify the "historical" perspective of Dr. Seuss's character Bartholomew Cubbins from Bartholomew and the Oobleck or The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
- Read a "letter" from the fictional Bartholomew and note differences between the character's world and their modern world
- Write a letter responding to Bartholomew, indicating that they are taking into account the character's "world view"
- Bartholomew and the Oobleck or The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
- Chart paper or whiteboard with markers, or computer and projector for class discussions
- Bartholomew Cubbins Letter printable
- Blank paper for brainstorming web
- Writing paper
- Optional: Example Student Letters to Bartholomew Cubbins printable
- Optional: Example Bartholomew Cubbins Response Letters printable
- Use chart paper, a whiteboard, or a projector to set up a display of the format of a friendly letter (heading, sender's address and date, greeting, body, closing, and signature).
- Prepare the Bartholomew Cubbins Letter printable to display to the class.
- Duplicate a class set of the Bartholomew Cubbins Letter printable.
- Optional: Prepare the Example Student Letters to Bartholomew Cubbins printable to display if you wish to share these examples with the students.
Step 1: If you have not already read the book Bartholomew and the Oobleck to the class, begin by reading it (or The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins) aloud.
Step 2: Engage students in a discussion of the differences they notice between Bartholomew's life and our lives. Note these on the chart paper or whiteboard.
Step 1: Explain to the class that something puzzling and remarkable has happened. The post office has delivered, via Special Delivery, a letter that seems to have come from a very different time and place. It was addressed to "Scholars in a Foreign Land." You have copied it and now will share this with them, since it seems only polite to respond.
Step 2: Display the "letter" from Bartholomew Cubbins and hand out copies of the letter to each student.
Step 3: Read over the letter with the class and discuss.
Step 4: Return to the previous day's notes about Bartholomew's life and the current day and have individual students (or groups of students if you prefer) note any additional differences they discovered in the letter.
Step 5: Have each student use a sheet of blank paper to make a pre-write "web" about how to respond to Bartholomew. Emphasize that the web should include responses to Bartholomew's questions and other information you think he needs to know about the modern world.
Days 3 and 4
Step 1: Review the parts of a friendly letter with the class. You can share the Example Student Letters to Bartholomew Cubbins printable if you feel these would be helpful for your students to read.
Step 2: Have students write rough drafts of the letters they will send to Bartholomew.
Step 3: Use the writing process (including peer edit, revision, editing, and final draft) to guide students as they complete final copies of their letter.
Optional Follow Up
If you choose to respond to students' letters to Bartholomew, this part of the project should occur about a week or so after their letters are "mailed."
Respond to the letters the children wrote to Bartholomew (see the Example Bartholomew Cubbins Response Letters printable). You don't have to do this yourself. You can "team up" with another teacher, perhaps from an older grade, and have students respond to these letters. Either way, the students are delighted when they actually receive an individual response to their letters!
This is a great lead-in to any historical "first meeting" of different cultures. I like to have the students relate this to the buying of Manhattan by the Dutch, for example. I begin by indicating that an alien culture has come to earth and needs air to breathe. They would like to purchase rights to breathe air for the sum of $1,000,000 from our class. Should we sell this to them? The discussion usually ends with the students agreeing to sell air. Why not take the money if it doesn't make a difference? Then, suddenly, the aliens arrive with a machine that proceeds to suck the atmosphere from the earth.
Next we discuss the encounter between the Dutch and the Native inhabitants of Manhattan. The Native American nations had a different view of the land than the Dutch. They saw rights to hunt, fish, and temporarily use the land as available, but no one "owned" land, just as now no one "owns" the oxygen in the air. The Dutch assumed that ownership meant exclusive ownership and wanted others to move out. The difference in how each side thought of land made a huge difference in what they thought their "agreement" meant, and led to later troubles. The encounters between Powhatan and Smith in Jamestown also lend itself beautifully to "acting out" negotiations from different points of view.
- Have students note differences between Bartholomew's world and our own
- Have the students write to Bartholomew explaining how our world "works"
- Was there enough time for the writing process?
- Were the students successful or frustrated?
- Could the students tell the differences in world-views?
- Was this a new way to think about things for most students?
- Were students able to see the differences between Bartholomew's world and our own?
- Did the students note the differences correctly?
- Were students able to write a letter that took into account the differences in point of view?
- Were the letters in correct format?
- Did the letters tell about the students and their lives?