Souperchicken

souperchickenHenrietta loves to read and has hardly any time to lay eggs. The farmer says he is sending all the rest of the hens on a vacation as a reward for their hard work. As they leave, Henrietta reads the words on their truck which say, “ Souper Soup Company” and realizes her friends are headed for the soup. Along the road to rescue them she hitchhikes pigs and cows. At the factory she reads the signs in the hallways to find the chickens, reads the code to find the address, and, after the rescue, finally discovers in a magazine a vegetarian farm where they can live.

Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, © 2003, ISBN 0-8234-1704-20

Literacy Can Save You

Read the story aloud to the students first. Then, to develop listening and note-taking skills, read it again. During the second reading, have students make note of the ways in which being able to read is important in solving the problems that Henrietta faces:

  • She reads the sign about the soup company on the truck.
  • She finds the address for the factory on the label of a can.
  • She reads the sign on the pigs’ truck.
  • She reads the sign on the cows’ truck.
  • She reads the signs in the hallways to find where the chickens are.
  • She reads the code to get in the door.
  • She reads the magazine covers in the mailboxes to find a good place to live, with a vegetarian.

Literacy Tales

Ask students to make up their own story in which literacy helps to solve the problems of the character. Remind them that the structure of a typical story is to present a problem, make 2-3 attempts to solve it, and then have the last one work.

In Souperchicken, the structure is:

  • Present the character, Henrietta, as a reader.
  • Present a problem for the chickens (this is not a vacation).
  • Reading makes the problem clear.
  • Attempts: chasing the truck, hitch-hiking on trucks, finding them at the factory, breaking them loose, finding them a suitable home.

When student shave finished, you could present some other picture books in which literacy is essential to solving the literacy problems.

For 5 creative writing ideas, click Souperchicken to download.

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The Plot Chickens

The Plot ChickensHenrietta, the chicken, loves to read and decides to write a book for herself.  Having trouble getting it published, she self-publishes, but is sad after a bad review in the “Corn Book”.  She is depressed until she discovers that children love her book.

Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, ©2009, ISBN 13:978-0-8234-2087-2

Eight Rules to a Great Story

The Plot Chickens provides 8 great rules for writing a great story, as Henrietta slowly writes her own book. Read the story to the students, and then ask them during the second reading, to take notes for themselves on what the 8 Rules for Great Writing are. In Classroom Instruction That Works, Robert Marzano says that note making is one of the top two strategies that can be directly linked to student achievement.

Vocabulary of Paper and Printing

In the full PDF version of the writing tips for The Plot Chickens, there is a black line master for an activity to teach students the names for 11 different types of paper. Create 8 sets of papers (each about 10 cm by 10 cm) and number them in a random order. Keep the key at the desk, as they try to identify the papers using the black line master. When they have them all, collect the black line master, and ask them to write down, in order, the names of the 11 sample papers you have given them.

Students can also learn the printing terms that have moved into regular word processing…these are words that just a few years ago, only trained printers knew, but now everyone is mastering. Sample words might be: clip art, collate, crop, font, italic, bold, 12 point (well, that point means size of the letter), typo, bullet, template, justified, ragged right (where it is justified on the left but uneven on the right), cyan (blue), magenta (dark red).

For 10 writing ideas, click The Plot Chickens to download.