The Class from the Black Lagoon by Mike Thaler - Teaching Ideas

The Class from the Black Lagoon is about a teacher that thinks that her new group of kids are going to be little monsters. She has heard nothing but terrible, awful things about what they look like, how they behave and what kind of students they are. As she sits and waits for her students to arrive, she is getting more and more nervous! The students finally arrive and Mrs. Green is completely amazed at what she see!

You can use the below list of possible reading skill and strategy questions and ideas to create a fun and meaningful lesson for this book.

If your students are needing inferencing practice I have created a little packet of inferencing pages to use with this book and The Principal from the Black Lagoon and The Teacher from the Black Lagoon. Click the link below to see how this will help your students with inferencing.

Reading level: 4.3
Theme/subject: School, confronting fears, imagination
Genre: Humorous

Suggested vocabulary/phrases: early retirement, ghouls, emit, scratch and sniff, pried off with crowbars, safety precaution, virtuosos, Velcro, symphony orchestra, expertise, highly contagious diseases, pestering teachers, poking peers, survival kit

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions – these are just possible questions or wondering from either the student or teacher
    • Before – I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder what the class is going to be like. I wonder if the class really will be from the black lagoon.
    • During – I wonder if the kids really will be as bad as described. I wonder what the kids will really be like.
    • After – I wonder why the other teachers told Mrs. Green such bad things about the kids.
  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – first person
  • Author's purpose – entertaining
    • Evidence
      1. The kids can’t really be monsters.
      2. The illustrator and the author show kids as weird looking monsters.
      3. Mrs. Green looks pretty silly wearing all that safety equipment.
  • Beginning, middle, end – the most important event from each
    • Beginning – It is the first day of school and Mrs. Green is sitting at her desk worried about what her class will be like this year.
    • Middle – Mrs. Green pictures her class as monsters and thinks about all the excuses that they will tell her when they don’t do what they are supposed to.
    • End – Mrs. Green’s class comes in the class carrying flowers and an apple and not looking anything like monsters.
  • Cause and effect  
      1. Why was Mrs. Green so worried about her class? Because she had heard that the kids were weird and that the other teachers went into early retirement because of them.
      2. Why did some of the children monsters have to be pried off their chairs with crowbars? Because they wrapped their bodies around their chairs really tight.
      3. Why do the children monsters wave their hands in the air? Because they either have to go to the bathroom or have a silly answer to a question.
      4. Why do the monster children love school? Because they love pestering teachers, poking peers and using the pencil sharpener.
      5. Why does Mrs. Green check her survival kit? Because it is almost 8 o’clock and the kids are about to come in.
      6. Why does Mrs. Green say that she is going to love this class? Because they were cheery and clean and had one nose and they brought her flowers and an apple.
  • Character analysis - describe Mrs. Green {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character, how others think/see the character}
  • Character changes – In the beginning Mrs. Green is very nervous about the first day of school and what the kids might be like. By the end she is happy and relieved that her class is so sweet.
  • Compare & contrast
    • Your teacher to Mrs. Green
    • Your class to the class in the story
    • This book to any other Black Lagoon book
  • Connections
    • Text-to-self  
      1. Being worried about something you were told.
      2. Believing stories you were told even though they sounded like they couldn’t be real.
      3. Bringing your teacher flowers or an apple on the first day of school.
    • Text-to-text
      1. Any of the Black Lagoon books.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why does Mrs. Green think she is going to love the class?
    • Text clues – When the kids actually get to school and enter the class they are all smiling and bring her an apple and some flowers.
    • What I know – I know that when things turn out to be better than what you expected you will always like it.
    • My conclusion – I think Mrs. Green is going to love her class because she had such terrible thoughts about them and what they were going to be like but when they actually got there they were completely the opposite.
  • Main idea & details
    • Main idea – The story is mostly about Mrs. Green and the thoughts she has about her new class.
    • Details
      1. As soon as the children walk through the school doors they turn in to monsters.
      2. They write on everything but the paper.
      3. They come to school when they are sick and stay home when they are well.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when the kids finally enter the classroom.
  • Predict
      1. What do you think the story is going to be about?
      2. What do you think the teacher thinks the class is going to be like?
      3. What are some things you think the monsters are going to do in class?
      4. What do you think the kids are really going to be like?
  • Problem & solution
    • Problem – The problem in the story is that Mrs. Green was told some horrible things about the students in her class.
    • Solution – Mrs. Green thinks the most awful things about her class until they actually come in and then she sees that they are nothing like they were described.
  • Sequencing
      1. It’s the first day of school and Mrs. Green is thinking about all the terrible things she was told about the kids in her class.
      2. She thinks about them turning into monsters as they enter the school.
      3. She thinks about the kids getting stuck in their chairs and having to be pried out with crowbars.
      4. She hears all the noises they will make with their bodies.
      5. She thinks about all the excuses they will use.
      6. She will see them writing on everything except the paper they are supposed to write on.
      7. Mrs. Green thinks about the monster class using the pencil sharpener and all the noise and problems that will be.
      8. Mrs. Green checks her survival kit as the kids start to come to her room.
      9. The kids come to class with flowers and an apple for Mrs. Green
      10. Mrs. Green decides that she is going to love her class.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Summarize
    • Someone Mrs. Green
    • Wanted wanted a good class
    • But but she was told that the kids were real monsters
    • So so she got her survival kit ready.
    • Then Then the kids came into the class and she
    • Finally finally saw that she is going to love her class.
  • Theme – the lesson, message or moral of the story
      1. Don’t always believe everything you hear.
      2. Rumors can make you think the worst about someone.
      3. The first day of school probably won’t be as scary as you think it will be.
  • Visualize – what do YOU picture…
    • Mrs. Green pictures some awful things that her class might be like. What is something you would picture the class to be like?

Happy Reading!

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