Charlotte's Web Unit:

Activity #1: "Life of a Pig"
Activity #2: Farm Classroom Activity
Activity #3: Centers Day
Venn Diagram
Stickers for Venn Diagram activity
Vocabulary List
Newspaper Writer Technology Activity
Webquest Activity
End of Unit Exam

Description of the Book:
            Charlotte’s Web (Scholastic Edition) is a classic novel written by E.B. White, for children ages 8-12. This story is about a little girl named Fern who talked her father into letting her keep a piglet named Wilbur. When Wilbur had grown older, he was moved to Fern’s uncle’s (Zuckerman) farm where he lived with many other animals, including geese, sheep, a rat named Templeton and a smart spider named Charlotte. The conflict in the story was the fact that Wilbur was going to be killed near Christmastime. Charlotte, being Wilbur’s best friend on the farm, devised a plan to save Wilbur from being killed. This plan was to write words of praise, such as “Some Pig” and “Terrific” on her web so the Zuckermans will see how special Wilbur is, and therefore wouldn’t kill him. Charlotte’s web messages did end up saving Wilbur and had even earned him a special award at the County Fair. Throughout the novel, the friendship between Charlotte and Wilbur grew very strong. The story ends with Charlotte passing away after making her egg sac. Wilbur cares for her egg sac back at the farm until Charlotte’s children hatched from their eggs. When these hundreds of spiders hatched, they immediately spun a string and were swept away by the wind to begin their lives. 3 of Charlotte’s children stayed with Wilbur at the farm to live. The major themes of this classic story are ones of friendship, loyalty, coming of age, and even the reality of death as a natural event. Within this literacy unit the target concepts will be reading comprehension. The target is to use this novel for third graders to be able to pick out the themes, main characters, plot, setting, and sequence of events. The theme most focused on is friendship, like the friendship between Fern/Wilbur and Charlottle/Wilbur. The unit is organized so students will be able to reflect on their reading, be able to comprehend the important aspects of the book, and learn to organize their time to be able to finish their readings. The comprehension theory of ETR is used a lot within the unit, emphasizing experience in asking students their prior knowledge and what they think about what is to come with reading this book. The “T” phase, or text is focused on in many class discussions about what has been read and being able to think about what will happen next through writing reactions. Allowing students to connect the story to their own lives emphasizes the “R” phase, or relationship phase. This can be seen when the students are asked to relate how Charlotte is a good friend to how the students are good friends (friendship being the focus theme within the novel). (Au Chapter 3: Key Concept 3).

Why this book?

            Charlotte’s Web is a classic novel that should be continued on throughout education. The story has well-rounded characters, important themes/lessons for children to take away with them, and also has many elements of imagination, which is important in children’s lives. I have chosen this particular novel because it is a great story to exercise reading comprehension (picking out characters, sequence, etc.) while being interesting and fun at the same time. I believe the students will enjoy the story, and realize that reading can be fun. Also, this story and unit will make reading comprehension not seem so dull and textbook-like. In reading Charlotte’s Web, I want my students to experience the fun in reading, the imagination of the story, and also learn more about reading comprehension to be able to discuss what they have read for future purposes. Also, I want students to be able to think beyond the text and really imagine the world of the story.  This book is a classic novel that allows the ETR comprehension theory to be used, and allows many opportunities for creative comprehension assignments. Note: ESL students and possible LD students will be able to easily get a book on tape to read along with the book for extra help at home and within the classroom.



            The calendar attached is the timeline of this literacy unit. Ideally, this unit is to be 10 days long (2 school weeks). The numbers in bold next to the activities and lessons are the estimation of time each activity will take. The first week of the lesson will include me (as the teacher) reading the chapters within the classroom everyday. The following week will include chapter discussions instead of reading in the classroom. I do this so students will get an easier start in reading for the first week. By the second week, the students will be interested in reading the book and get the routine of reading 2 chapters per night. The lengths of the chapters are not long at all, so 2 chapters per night is not asking too much for this third grade class. Also, giving this 2 chapter-per-night routine will allow students to get the feel for reading a book and how to organize their time so they finish what needs to be read gradually, so they aren’t hurrying at the end to finish the book. In Au Chapter 8, it says that  students should begin to lean toward this independence in reading, when the teacher gives the students the responsibility. The responsibility to read at home independently allows the student to feel this responsibility to know the readings the next day. With discussions instead of readings in the second half of the unit, responsibility of reading at home increases in importance because me, as the teacher, will be able to tell if the student did read by answering questions in this discussion or if they contribute to it. Bascially, the reading together in class is a type of “guided practice” with the teacher helping the students along in their reading, while transforming into “independent practice” in having the students read on their own at home. (Au, pg. 255). Allowing for discussion everyday will freshen the students’ minds to what they read the previous night and also allow student opinions and observations to be brought forth to share. This class discussion everyday leads to a better classroom community with more children who will enjoy reading. “Fielding, Wilson, and Andersons (1986) looked at the question of why some children become avid readers. They spoke of teachers reading out loud to the class, recommending books to them, and talking to them about the books they had read.” (Au, pg 264). Research has shown that teachers who practice the act of reading with their students and allow open discussion about these books will help students begin to enjoy reading. These discussions will act as ongoing assessments and a base on guiding instruction for that day as well.

            The “Charlotte’s Web Vocab” is a vocabulary activity that is done everyday. It is explained more later on under Vocabulary. Also, on the first Thursday and second Tuesday, “add activity” is placed because the only activities placed on those days are the vocab and book discussion. A related activity on those days should be added. (possible art project or group work- not in this assignment to fill the weeks, only to provide 3 activities for this assignment). Throughout the week, the vocab list will grow and then be assessed at the end on Thursday. This exam will also contain 3 short answer comprehension questions and a short essay question. The exam is given to make sure students understand the main concepts of the unit through matching vocab, comprehension questions, and a short essay about the theme. The last day, on Friday will be a field trip and fun concluding activity.


Lesson Plans: Activities

            Lesson Plans Attached. The 3 activities include

Writing Assignment

            The two writing assignments are:

The Picture Walk writing assignment will be on the first day. This assignment is an introduction into the book. The students will flip through the book (Scholastic edition: with drawings inside) and only look at the picture sequence. After doing so, they will write at least one page on what they think is going to happen in the book and what type of genre this book will fall under, just by observing the pictures. This writing assignment will get the students thinking about the novel, allow for predictions, and be able to use their imaginations. Also, this assignment gets the students familiar with the book and how the novel is sectioned off into chapters. The Picture Walk assignment is given after the class intro discussion about Charlotte’s Web. The objective of this assignment is prediction of the story and how well they write (organization of their writing). I will assess the Picture Walk by completion (beginning, middle, end predictions) and organization of their writing, meaning they predicted the beginning and led me into what they believe will happen throughout the story in order, meaning they cannot jump around in predicting the end, then beginning. This exercises their knowledge on order/sequence of events. Differentiation will be: LD students will be able to look at the pictures on a printed sheet so they can see the order of the pictures easier; ESL students do not need much differentiation because they are working with pictures; Handicapped students need no differentiation; gifted students can write the story out in detail, longer than 1 page. The GLCE’s for this assignment include:

realistic fiction).

*The students will predict what type of genre the book is by looking at the pictures.

automatically using strategies used by mature readers to increase comprehension, (e.g.,

predicting, constructing mental images, representing ideas in text, questioning, rereading or

listening again, inferring,summarizing).

*Prediction and inferring is used to introduce the book through pictures, and some text.


The Story of Charlotte’s Children is the second writing assignment given on Day 9 of the unit. This assignment is given when the book is finished. This assignment is asking the students to write their own extension of the book by telling a story about one of Charlotte’s children that fly away to start their own life, and is at least 2 pages in length including all elements of a story. To begin, students are asked to do at least 5 minutes of pre-writing organization using diagrams, webs, or lists. This assignment allows the students to think beyond the book text and be involved in the world of the book even more, but students are challenged to write similar to E.B. White in order for the extension of the story to sound fitting to Charlotte’s Web. Writing about one of Charlotte’s children (where they end up making their web, what friends they make, etc.) asks students to use their imaginations and write what they want. This allows for writing to become creative and more interesting for the students because they can make it their own. Select stories will be shared to the class either on Day 9 or Day 10. All of the stories will be bound together into a class book that students can go back and read what other students wrote about one of Charlotte’s children. The objective to this assignment is to get the children thinking beyond the story and expand their perspective of the book while including all of the necessary story elements (characters, conflict, setting, plot, sequence of events and a theme). The possibility of sharing stories will add a little competition to the assignment, so students will give a little more effort to try to be one of those select stories. This story will allow me to see if the students can include all of the comprehension characteristics that we’ve been discussing throughout the unit. This final writing assignment will allow them to use their new knowledge of characteristics in a story. Assessment will be with a checklist rubric:

Differentiation is done with LD students getting a list of the items to be included within their story (characters, setting, etc.) to guide them through the story writing process; ESL students are given common words sheet for reference; handicapped students need no differentiation; gifted students should create a longer and more developed story with a well thought out beginning-middle-end connection.

The GLCE’s covered by this assignment include:

W.GN.03.01 Write a narrative piece (e.g., fable, folktale, or realistic fiction), using

personification, setting, and actions and thoughts that reveal important character traits.

*The students are asked to extend on this fictional story using a character they are allowed to make up traits for.

W.PR.03.01 Set a purpose, consider audience, and replicate authors’ styles and

patterns when writing narrative or informational text.

*Students are asked to try to replicate E.B White’s writing style in order for the story extension to fit in with Charlotte’s Web.

W.PR.03.02 Apply a variety of pre-writing strategies for both narrative and

informational text (e.g., graphic organizers such as story maps, webs, Venn diagrams) in

order to generate, sequence, and structure ideas (e.g., sequence for beginning, middle,

end; problem/solution; compare/contrast).

*Students are asked to pre-write ideas using webs, diagrams, or lists to brainstorm organization.


            The two vocabulary assignments are:

The “Charlotte’s Web Words” is introduced on Day 2. This assignment is actually an everyday routine activity that is to be done right when the students enter the classroom at the beginning of the day. A web, made by me, is placed in the front corner of the room and will have 1-2 words on it (similar to Charlotte writing on her web within the story). Right when the students enter the classroom, they will know to look up at the web for their word(s) of the day. Their job is to take that word(s) and find it within the book (page number will be on the board). The word is to be written down on a piece of paper along with the sentence it is in within the novel. Then, the students are to go to the website (Merriam-Webster) or look in the student dictionaries within the classroom to find a definition of that word. They will write the definition down in their own words and write a sentence using it. After about 10-15 minutes, we will discuss the words on the web and come up with a ‘class definition’ for that word. This way, the definition they will have to know will be one the class makes up and will be in easy-to-understand wording. Also, allowing the students (with my help) to make up the definition will allow them to contribute to their own learning. The vocab words are all in the novel, and will be placed on the “word web” as the students encounter them while reading. Using words within the novel will ask the students look at context clues to see what definition of the word will fit. According to Au, “Students should learn to combine work- and text- reading strategies to increase their general vocabulary.” This works here because students are going to run into these complicated words while reading, so practicing fitting the correct definition in its place with exercise the “five-step approach,” asking students to substitute the word, check for context clues, see if the substitution fits all context clues, if it doesn’t fit try a new word, and it it fits somewhat revise the idea to fit the context. (Au pg. 161). They will run through this 5-step process while looking definitions up because most words do have multiple definitions. Choosing the correct definition will be done with context clues. There are 10 vocab words all together (attached sheet). This activity allows the vocab list to gradually increase day by day instead of giving the list of words all at once. Also, this activity will give the students something routine to do when they first enter the room to get them thinking about the novel. Having 1-2 vocab words on the spider web all day also allows students to look up and get familiar with the spelling of the word(s). The assessment for this activity falls on Day 9 when the students take a short exam, which asks them to match the vocab word to the class’s definition for that word, just so students can distinguish the definitions from one another and be able to connect them appropriately. On this exam, all vocab words will be asked to match with their definition (and there will be more definitions than words so process of elimination cannot be used). Also, the students will turn in their papers everyday after the vocab activity for participation points. I will hand the papers back the next day so students can use them to study. The objective of this ongoing activity is to get students familiar with words that seem complicated at first, and keep the new vocab growing throughout the unit. Differentiation for this assignment is LD students will have the vocab words highlighted in their books for easier access and will also only have to know 7 out of the 10 words; ESL students will be given an illustration to depict what the words mean so they can use the picture to remind them; handicapped students are give dictionaries on their desks so they do not have to go search for one in the morning; gifted students are to write multiple sentences for the word meaning. The GLCE’s covered in this assignment include:

homonyms, multiple meaning words) using strategies and resources (e.g.,context clues, concept mapping, dictionary).

*Students are asked to find the definition of the word in the context of the word usage within the novel and are asked to use a dictionary to look words up.

and class created rubrics), and begin to self-assess with teacher guidance the

qualities of personal or other written text and the accuracy and quality of text.

*Students are asked to compile their own definitions as a class to learn, which contributes to shared standards.

The second vocab activity includes the same list of 10 words. The “matching vocab” activity is done on Day 8, the day before the students take their short exam. This activity has the students work in partners. Each student will get a piece of paper with all of the definitions on it, and another sheet with all of the vocab words on it. The students will be asked to cut the definitions into individual strips, and do the same with the words. Each pair of students will practice matching their words with the definitions. Also, the students can quiz each other. The objective to this assignment is for students to study for the exam with one another and allow all of the vocab words to come together in one activity. The assessment will be me observing the students’ participation and partner collaboration. Differentiation includes LD students being paired with capable students and students that are good at working with other students in partners, according to Au, “one of the ways that [special needs students] develop ownership of literacy is through membership in a classroom community” ( Au pg. 294) which can be exercised through partner work. Also, by mixing students up, the levels of ability are blurred, creating a better sense of a community as a whole; ESL students are paired with non-ESL students and can incorporate the pictures for the study session; handicapped students do not need differentiation; gifted students are paired with other gifted students to go through the words, ask each other to spell the words, and ask for definitions without looking at the paper

Culminating Activity

            To conclude the Charlotte’s Web unit, a field trip and fun activity will be done on the last day, day 10 (Friday). The class will take a field trip to a real farm for the first half of the day. The objective is that they can observe what a real farm looks like and can imagine the kind of setting the story had taken place in. Also, the students will see the difference between the fantasy animals in Charlotte’s Web and real animals on a farm. The assessment is the teacher observing student participation and attention during the field trip. The second half of the day will contain a discussion and final activity related to the book. The discussion will involve the class as a whole, comparing and contrasting reality vs. fantasy, or the real farm vs. the story farm. I will write the list of comparisons and contrasts on a big piece of paper as the students think of them, and will hang that on the board. The objective is for students to use their comparing/contrasting skills. Assessment is made by my observing participation and if the student is contributing to the discussion. The only differentiations made are with ESL students having pictures of the farm/animals labeled with the English word for them, and handicapped students receiving appropriate accommodations on the trip to get around (handicapped bus, call ahead to farm and let them know).

            The final activity to wrap up this literacy unit is a fun and easy one for students. The activity is called “balloon journey” (Dalke). Each student will be asked to write a friendship quote on a note card. These quotes can be found online, can be made up by the student, or chosen from a selection I will print out. Then, the students will punch a hole in the corner of the note card and place a string in the hole. I will then surprise the class with balloons (already filled with helium and floating) that were hidden in the closet. I will help students tie their note cards on the balloon strings. As a class, we will talk about how the book ended with Charlotte’s children flying away and how Wilbur said he would never forget the friendship he had with Charlotte the spider. Then I will tell the class that these balloons will fly away like Charlotte’s children, but will spread the theme of friendship with the quotes attached. Then, as a class, we would go outside and let out balloons fly away. This would be a fulfilling end to the unit and will be an exciting day for the students. The objective is to make the conclusion of the unit fun and related to the book. This fun-filled day will also be a break from taking the exam the previous day. Assessment will be me observing participation and how well they follow directions. Differentiations include LD students writing a quote from the printed list (of their choice), and handicapped students receiving help with the punching of the hole and string and also helping them get outside for the release of the balloons. The GLCE’s associated with this final activity include:

to themes and perspectives in text through oral and written responses.

*Students are connected personally to the story and its theme of friendship.

END NOTE: This unit is constructed with variety in mind. A variety of assignments include writing, drawing, art projects, discussions, decorating, etc. An assortment of assessments are also included with using observations, completion of work, checklist style rubric, participation/contribution in discussions, working with others, and a short exam. Variety of activities and assessments will keep the unit interesting and fresh for students, as well as provide a well-rounded perspective on assessing children’s knowledge. This unit is to be performed earlier in the semester. Writing will progress throughout the year into longer and more elaborate works as the year goes on.

Resources/ References:

ABC Teach. Charlotte’s Web. 12 April. 2006.

Au, K. H., Mason, J. M., & Scheu, J.A..Literacy Instruction for Today. New York: Harper Collins College Publishers. 1995.

Dalke, Jennifer. Lessons Plans Page: Balloon Journey. 12 April 2006.

Fuller, Donna. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White Lesson Plans. 12 April. 2006.

Kramp, Robyne. Venn Diagram for Charlotte’s Web. 12 April 2006.

Merriam-Webster. Worldcentral Dictionary. 12 April. 2006.

Michigan Department of Education. Grade Level Content Expectations. 12 April. 2006.,1607,7-140-28753_33232---,00.html

**Bolded within paper when referenced to or idea was partly used.