A classic Chinese folktale, of a man who owned a horse and at each turn of fate believed that things were neither as good, nor as bad, as they might seem.
Ed Young, Voyager Books, Harcourt, ©2004, ISBN 0-15-201061-5
Oral Language: The Unfortunately Game
Ask students to stand in a large circle. Start with a line such as “James went to the library.” Continue from there with the next student saying, “Fortunately…”. Students alternate a fortunate, unfortunate circumstance as they go around the circle. This requires students to be a little inventive, and warms them up to the idea of writing their own book. Once students understand the system, playing in smaller groups creates more participation for each individual.
Write Your Own “Perhaps It Might Not Be A Good Thing” Story…
Create a scenario and then write a story in which a character repeats your catch phrase—each time saying “It might not be so great” or “It might not be so bad”. This can involve something simple like forgetting your homework, lunch, library book, etc. It could even be set somewhere such as the middle east, with the issue involving a camel.
The Lost Horse is written in only 207 words in total, and 17 sentences, so it is not a huge challenge.
Create Your Own Wisdom
What do you think the “moral” of the story is? Discuss with the students.
Talk about using the idea of “what I learned from this was…” when they write their own personal writing anecdotes. We take away a lesson from a lot of the things we do in life…that’s how we avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.
For 8 creative writing ideas, click The Lost Horse to download.
Ed Young is well known for his picture books. The House Baba Built is more in the nature of a memoir of his childhood in the house his father built in Shanghai in which the family lived during World War II. We learn about the war, school, family activities in the house, taking in refugees including a Jewish family, food shortages, being unable to fill the pool…all through his eyes as a child. You can take just a part of this book for a rich study of many different topics.
Ed Young, Little Brown and Co.©2011, 978-0-316-07628-9
Exploring a Photo
Ed Young uses family photos as one of the many methods he uses to illustrate his story. Ask students to bring a picture of themselves that their family has taken – it’s best if they bring a coy. If they bring an original, make a copy for them so that the original is not accidentally destroyed.
Students need to look at their pictures and ask themselves the following types of questions:
- How old was I when this picture was taken?
- Where was this picture taken – describe quite precisely?
- Why was this picture taken and kept? (Instead of others)
- What am I wearing in this picture? How do I feel about these clothes? Was this typical of what I wore at this time?
- What sensory memories do I have about this place – food, feel, sights, taste, smell, etc.?
- What emotions are around this picture and why?
Encourage students elaborate and then use a copy of the picture to illustrate their “story” of the taking of the picture.
Make an Origami Box
In early spring, when the mulberry leaves sprouted, Ed Young and his friends traded silkworm eggs. They made paper origami boxes for silkworm houses and fed them on mulberry leaves.
Watch the YouTube several times and make it yourself, before you teach the class. Once they know how, it is very easy. If you live close to Richmond, there is very inexpensive origami paper at Daizo.
For 16 creative writing ideas, click The House Baba Built to download.