Before Reading the Book
Although Song Lee is very shy in some ways (she is terrified of speaking in front of the class), she brings a lot of her own flair to her second-grade classroom. For instance, when it's her turn to talk about a place she's traveled, she dresses as a cherry blossom tree cleverly hiding her fear from the audience and bringing in a great image of her homeland, Korea. That's not all when she realizes the class has no more living pets, Song Lee brings in her own salamander to share with her classmates. Later, when there's a fire drill, Song Lee makes sure to rescue her pet before leaving the building.
Before students read Song Lee in Room 2B, talk to them about the book. Ask students if they have read any of the other books by Suzy Kline about Room 2B. Some of those books feature Song Lee while others feature the mischievous Harry. Ask students what they expect the book to be about, based on their experience with the characters in other books. Explain to students that Song Lee is very afraid of public speaking. Ask them if they have similar fears, and discuss some ways to overcome them.
When Miss Mackle realizes that her class is getting "cabin fever," she decides that they should take a vacation. Each student in her class is to talk about a place that they've been or would like to go. Ask your students to prepare their own vacation talks. Invite them to bring in pictures, brochures, and any other interesting items. Point out some of the creative ways the students in Room 2B met the assignment, and encourage them to use their own creativity in their public speaking.
A Multicultural Feast!
In Room 2B, Miss Mackle and the students have a St. Patrick's day party where all the children bring in green food. Talk to students about some of their different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Ask students to bring in a favorite food that represents their ethnic heritage. Then have a multicultural smorgasbord. Make sure to discuss with students which foods represent each cultural or ethnic background.
A Classroom Pet
When Song Lee realizes that there are no pets left in the classroom, she brings in her own salamander, Chungju, to share with the class. Does your classroom have a pet? If so, encourage students to write about the pet how to take care of it and why they like it. If not, make a list with the class of pets that are inexpensive and easy to care for, such as ants or goldfish or a salamander. Have the class vote on an animal, and then purchase it for your class's Science Center.
Bring books into the class so that the students can learn how to take care of their pet. After students have taken some time to read about it, work with students to list all of the jobs that need to be done to care of the pet in your classroom.
Post the list of pet chores on the bulletin board, and work with students to make a schedule of who will do what when. Keep a large notebook next to the pet so that students can write and draw pictures about their pet.
In Room 2B, there is a lot of excitement when a fire alarm goes off, and even more when three fire engines come to the school. Discuss with students why Song Lee should have stayed with her classmates during the drill. Arrange a visit to a local fire station, and ask one of the firefighters to give your students a tour. When students come back from their field trip, ask them to write about what they saw. Make a classroom book of Fire Safety Tips and display it in the library for other classes to read.
Every day, Song Lee and her classmates write in their notebooks for 15 minutes and then share their work. Ask students to write for fifteen minutes about one of the characters in the book. Have them think about why the character seems realistic and whether the character reminds them of someone they know. Then have them read aloud what they've written.
A New Adventure
Now that students have read about Doug, Harry, and Song Lee, ask them to work in small groups to think of new situations that the students might take part in. They might write about Miss Mackle taking her class on a field trip, celebrating April Fool's Day, or having a party at the end of the school year. Once students have agreed on a situation, ask each group to write their own story about Room 2B in the same style that the author uses. Have students read the stories aloud, and then put them with your other classroom books, so that students can continue to enjoy them during their reading time.