Ramona is back and better than ever in Ramona's World. Now in fourth grade, Ramona struggles with everyday issues from mastering her spelling words to having a crush on her old nemesis, the Yard Ape. Meanwhile, at home, Ramona and her older sister tease each other as always, but life is a different now that Beezus is a teenager and in high school. Suddenly, her once-sensible older sister is getting her ears pierced and going to co-ed parties! And, if that's not hard enough, Ramona must learn to share her parents' attention with Roberta, her new baby sister.
Before your students read Ramona's World, take some time to talk about the book. Ask students if they are familiar with either Beverly Cleary or her character Ramona. Students who have read Cleary's other books should share what they know about the author and the character. Explain that this is the first new Ramona book in fifteen years. Do they think the character will have changed very much? Why or why not? Read the synopsis on the back of the book and ask students to predict what they think will happen in this story. They should base their responses on what they already know about the character.
First Day of School Poetry
The story opens with Ramona rushing off for her first day of fourth grade. She has so much to be excited about: sharing stories of her new baby sister, talking to Danny -- the boy she likes, meeting her new teacher and class, and so much more. Ramona predicts that it's going to be a great year! First days can be very exciting, but they can also make you nervous or even sad that summer is over. Ask children to write a poem about how they felt on the first day of school this year or any year. Encourage them to accompany their poetry with an illustration. Then, have students share their poems with the class. Post students' work around the classroom. Conclude the activity by asking the whole class to discuss what emotions most kids feel on the first day of school.
Family Standing Poll
Remind students that when Roberta was born, Ramona lost her position as the younger child in the family. Now the middle child, Ramona sometimes feels left out--she not the new baby and she's not the teenager. Invite students to poll friends about their position in their family: Are they the oldest, middle, youngest, or only child? Suggest that they ask each person to state at least two things they like and dislike about their position in the family. Finally, have students share their poll results with the class. As an extra challenge, invite children to show their results in the form of a bar graph.
Even though Ramona hates spelling, and thinks it's silly, she works very hard throughout the year to become a better speller. Now is your students' chance to stump Ramona. Encourage them to use the dictionary to find at least two hard (but not too hard) words for Ramona to spell. Include the definition for each. Then have partners work together to challenge one another to spell and define the words. Students should take turns role playing the parts of Mrs. Meacham and Ramona. The student playing Mrs. Meacham challenges the other student, Ramona, with the words she finds. The first challenge is to spell the word, the second is to define it. You can extend this activity by changing partners.
When she was a girl, Beverly Cleary could never find books about ordinary boys and girls who lived in the same kind of neighborhood as she did and went to a school like the one she attended. All of the books were about adventures that could never happen to anyone she knew. Beverly decided that when she grew up she'd write books about regular kids . . . like Ramona! Have a class discussion about Ramona's life. How is Ramona's life like theirs? How is it different? Invite students to think about Ramona's family, friends, and school, as well as how she feels in different situations. After the class has brainstormed similarities and differences, have each child divide a piece of paper in half. On one side they should write and illustrate how their lives are like Ramona's. On the other side, they should show how their lives are different than Ramona's. When students are finished, you can put all the papers together in a class book.
Year In Review Timeline
Ask students how they know that time has passed in the story. Then describe how Beverly Cleary shows passage of time in several distinct ways, such as seasonal descriptions, and by baby Roberta's development. Many important events happen to Ramona throughout the year. Invite your class to create a "Year in Review Timeline". As a class, brainstorm all the events that happen to Ramona. For example, first day of school, falling through Daisy's ceiling, and babysitting for Roberta. Divide the class into small groups and have each group select one event. Students should work together to write a brief, descriptive paragraph about that event, and draw a picture to accompany it. As students are working, create a timeline across a wall or bulletin board with months or seasons labeled. Start with September or fall. When the groups are finished with their work, have the class work together to put their events in time order along the timeline.
The story begins in the fall with Ramona going back to school and ends in the spring with her birthday party. Have students bring the book full circle by writing a final chapter about what happens in the summer. Explain to students that Beverly Cleary uses realistic descriptions to bring Ramona and her family to life. Working in small groups, have students write their new chapters using the author's style. Invite groups to read their chapter with the rest of the class. When everyone has finished presenting their chapters, bind them all together in a book titled, "Our Endings to Ramona's World" and put it on display in the library for other classes to read.