Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Kwanzaa Miracle by Sharon Shavers Gayle -Teaching Ideas



A Kwanzaa Miracle is a story about loss and friendship. Mrs. Jackson is a grumpy neighbor that doesn't want to take part in the Kwanzaa celebration that all the neighbors are planning. The kids in the building are afraid of Mrs. Jackson and when Darryl and Ashley hit her window with a snowball they are extra nervous, especially when she has them come into her home. As Darryl and Ashley are in Mrs. Jackson's home they soon discover that Mrs. Jackson is not mean, she is just lonely, she lost both her daughter and her husband. After leaving Mrs. Jackson's home they tell their mom and dad that they want Mrs. Jackson to be their honorary ancestor for their Kwanzaa celebration. All the neighbors think this is a wonderful idea. At the Kwanzaa celebration Mrs. Jackson is surprised to see her sister there, because she lives so far away. Mrs. Jackson is so happy and thankful to all her neighbors and most especially Darryl and Ashley, she said they gave her a "Kwanzaa Miracle"!

This is a heartwarming story that is a good introduction into the Kwanzaa holiday. I hope you have this book or can find it to share with your students. I have created a problem/solution freebie to go with the book if you decide to share it with your class.

Below are the reading skills, strategies and ideas that could help in creating a very meaningful holiday lesson.

Reading level: 4.5
Theme: kindness
Genre: fiction

Suggested Vocabulary: mound, loomed, Kwanzaa, Umoja, unison, honorary ancestor, honored, festivities,

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} What is Kwanzaa? I wonder what the miracle might be. {possible questions during} I wonder why Mrs. Jackson is so mean. I wonder what some of the things were that they did to get ready for Kwanzaa. {possible questions after} I wonder who celebrates Kwanzaa. I wonder when Kwanzaa is celebrated.  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author’s point of view – 3rd person. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} The author made Mrs. Jackson seem so mean. {most important event from middle} Mrs. Jackson asked Darryl and Ashley come into her house. {most important event from end} Mrs. Jackson’s sister showed up for the Kwanzaa celebration.
  • Cause and effect – Why do you think Mrs. Jackson is so mean? Because she is sad about her daughter and husband. Why did Mrs. Jackson invite the kids in? Because they hit her window with a snowball and it reminded her of her daughter. Why did Ashley and Darryl decide to have Mrs. Jackson as the honorary ancestor for Kwanzaa? Because the discovered that she was nice and lonely and sad. Why did they invite Mrs. Jackson’s sister? Because it would make Mrs. Jackson very happy. Why did Mrs. Jackson say that they gave her a Kwanzaa miracle? because she was very sad and lonely for her own family so having her sister come celebrate and naming her honorary ancestral grandmother made her feel like she had family.
  • Character analysis - describe Mrs. Jackson {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Character changes – Mrs. Jackson seems to be very grumpy and mean at the beginning of the book but at the end she is very happy and gracious. Talking about her daughter and husband and then having her sister come to the Kwanzaa celebration helped Mrs. Jackson not be so grumpy.
  • Compare & contrast – Kwanzaa with Hanukkah or Christmas
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} having a neighbor that is not very nice. Having an important celebration. Making friends with someone that is not so nice. Surprising someone with a nice gesture.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why did Mrs. Jackson say they gave her a Kwanzaa miracle? {text clues} Mrs. Jackson was missing her daughter and husband. Mrs. Jackson’s sister came to the Kwanzaa festivities. Ashley and Darryl named Mrs. Jackson honorary ancestral grandmother.  {what I know} Whenever I see family I haven’t seen in a long time it makes me happy and when I receive an honor it always makes me feel so happy. {my conclusion} I think Mrs. Jackson said they gave her a Kwanzaa miracle because she got to see her sister and she felt like she would not be lonely anymore.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} Kwanzaa was getting close and all the neighbors were trying to get ready for the celebration. {details} They had a meeting about what they should do for Kwanzaa. They decided on naming an honorary ancestor. They had to figure out who that honorary member should be. They had a great party.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Darryl hit Mrs. Jackson’s window with a snowball.
  • Predict – What do you think the story will be about? Why do you think Mrs. Jackson is so mean? Who do you think they will pick as their honorary ancestor? What do you think Mrs. Jackson is going to do to Darryl and Ashley when she invites them in to her house? Do you think Ashley’s sister will come? Do you think Mrs. Jackson will be happy at the party?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Mrs. Jackson is a grumpy old woman. {solution} Ashley and Darryl decide to make her the honorary ancestor for their Kwanzaa celebration.
  • Sequencing – Mrs. Jackson speaks to Ashley and Darryl about leaving their toys on the walkway. It is time for the Kwanzaa meeting. They decide to have an honorary ancestor at their celebration. Darryl and Ashley hit Mrs. Jackson’s window with a snowball. Mrs. Jackson invites the kids in. Mrs. Jackson shares her pictures of her daughter and husband with the kids. Ashley and Darryl go home and ask their parents if Mrs. Jackson could be their honorary ancestor. Everyone is preparing for the Kwanzaa festivities. Darryl escorts Mrs. Jackson into the party. Mrs. Jackson sees her sister and they hug. They name Mrs. Jackson honorary ancestral grandmother. Mrs. Jackson is very happy.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Theme - sometimes sadness makes people do or say mean things but a little kindness toward that person can make them happy again.



You can download this in either one of my stores.


Happy Kwanzaa!


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