Thanksgiving Cartoons in a Reading Lesson

I can’t help but share this repost from a few years ago. It’s perfectly seasonal and one of my favorite activities. When doing my November lesson planning, I knew this would be perfect for my mid level reading group. This is a great activity to engage even your most work-resistant kiddos. So I did something a little unconventional. I let my kids watch tv. Gasp. In a moment of a particularly difficult post lunch time with preteen hormones were raging, I was not quite in the mood to run guided reading groups. In desperation for a few moments of solace, I scrolled through my iPad and somehow landed up on ABC’s app. I told you – desperation. I noticed ABC had two Charlie Brown specials available on demand. I quickly clicked on the Thanksgiving special thinking this was the perfect excuse for a few minutes of well earned down time.

If you haven’t seen Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Special, the first few minutes lay out the scene of a typical Charlie Brown problem situation. He unintentionally agrees to let 3 friends come over for Thanksgiving but he is actually going to be at his grandma’s house so won’t be there. While half listening to the cartoon voices, my teacher wheels got a turning. Don’t you love how the best lessons come up on the fly sometimes? Ahh problem solving, making inferences, and wh- questions galore! I leapt at the pause button before the movie could continue!

With my reading group boys, we had a really conversation about the problem Charlie was in and what he should do to solve this issue. ‘Should’ is SUCH a hard question! It helped to write it out on the board:

I was really impressed with my kiddos. I think having the video helped to visualize the problem better than when we read or talk about these similar issues. Well duh – children with autism struggle with language so of course the visuals of the movie are going to help. My mind is racing now thinking of more ways to use this approach!

We talked about how Charlie’s friends would feel if they go to his house and he wasn’t there (‘They would be disappointed!’ said one of my cuties!). We talked about if that was good friend behavior, about why Charlie accidentally said yes, and about how Charlie should approach fixing this issue. We did lots of ‘who’ questions – who thinks they are coming to Charlie’s for Thanksgiving?, who’s house is Charlie going to?, who told the friends they could come over? etc. There were also a lot of opportunities for ‘Wheres’ and tons of ‘Whys’ (hardest one of all!). After talking about it a bunch and some practice answering plenty of questions, we did a mini writing activity. We wrote about what Charlie Brown should do in this situation and what would happen if he let his friends came over while he was gone. Great imaginative writing!

This activity can be expanded to work on a wide range of skills – cause/effect, making predications, inferences, and good/bad behavior.

If you have an iPad – I highly recommend checking out Charlie Brown on the ABC and give this activity a whirl. I’m obviously beyond pleased with the results 🙂

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