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Grades 3-5 English Class: Creating a Unit for The Indian in the Cupboard

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 11/15/2012

During playtime, a child might imagine that his toys come alive. But this time it really happens! Omri puts a plastic figure of an Indian into a cupboard, locks the door with an old key and--poof! The Indian is alive, and feisty, too! Here are ideas for studying The Indian in the Cupboard.

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    A Great Read for All Ages

    It’s hard to find a book that is equally appealing to children and adults. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks is one of those books. It has drama without a sinister atmosphere. Though the premise of a plastic figure coming alive may seem far-fetched, the dilemmas that the main characters face are quite believable. Humor is sprinkled throughout the book adding to the charm. And the relationship between two characters from different times and cultures, one tiny and one gigantic, is quite poignant.

    41868661.JPG  The book is appropriate to read to third graders and above. With a reading level listed as 6.1(beginning sixth grade), you could use this in a reading group in 5th or 6th grade or as a whole class unit. So let's begin by creating a unit for The Indian in the Cupboard.

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    Set Objectives

    Think of the objectives you want to cover with your students in the unit:

    1. To use context clues and dictionary skills to learn new vocabulary words

    2. To use the new vocabulary appropriately in sentences/paragraphs for assessment purposes

    3. To predict outcomes and support predictions with specific examples from the book

    4. To demonstrate comprehension by answering literal and inferential questions

    5. To locate sources when doing research on a topic from the book

    6. To produce a creative writing project based on a similar theme from the book

    7. To compare and contrast the book with the book-based movie.

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    Acquisition of Vocabulary

    Here are the vocabulary words for The Indian in the Cupboard. Next to each word is the page number where it is found. Use context clues to discuss the meaning of the word and follow-up with verification in the dictionary.

    1. escarpment - page 39: a long steep slope especially at the edge of a plateau

    2. tottered - page 127: move in an unstable way

    3. septic - page 165: infected with bacteria

    4. mulish - page 76: being stubborn like a mule

    5. hallucination - page 95: perception of something that is not there

    6. bandolier - page104: shoulder belt with loops or pockets

    7. musingly - page 107: in a thoughtful manner

    8. taunted - page 108: a remark made to anger or provoke

    9. skittles - page 110: a game played with wooden pins that are knocked down

    10. persecutor - page 112: one who harasses or annoys

    11. gesticulating - page 115: using dramatic gestures sometimes instead of speaking

    12. flummoxed - page 128: bewildered

    13. chasm - page 148: a deep,long and narrow opening in the earth or a large rock

    14. sullenly - page 151: bad-tempered,sulky,gloomy

    Activities with vocabulary which can be used for assessment or reinforcement:

    1. Write sentences using the words correctly

    2. Matching word with meaning

    3. Fill in the blank of teacher-created sentences with words from the word bank

    4. Discuss suffixes such as: ly, ing, or, ment, ed

    Exploring words from England:

    Read these sentences and discuss what replacement word or phrase might be used in the United States:

    1. Headmaster (page 120) “Patrick, answer me. Or I’ll send you to the headmaster."

    2. Ten pence (page 137) Mr. Yapp dropped the plastic figure in the bag and said, “Ten pence."

    3.Tea time (page 2, 54, 141) “He went straight to his room without waiting for tea."

    4. an age (page 159) “He and Patrick knelt there for an age."

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    Moving through the book

    Predict outcomes

    Before beginning each new chapter, discuss what you think will happen based on the chapter title. Back up predictions from prior events in the book. This enhances their purpose for reading.

    Chapter Titles:

    Birthday Presents—The Door is Shut—Thirty Scalps—The Great Outdoors—Tommy—The Chief is Dead, Long Live the Chief—Uninvited Brothers—Cowboy!—Shooting Match—Breakfast Truce—School—Trouble with Authority—Art and Accusation—The Missing Key—Underfloor Adventure--Brothers

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    In creating a unit for The Indian in the Cupboard you should choose objectives that are appropriate to your particular students. Try to vary activities by using discussion, vocabulary work and individual or group projects. In the next article in this series, The Indian in the Cupboard Lessons, your students will work on projects and research.

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Indian in the Cupboard Novel Study

Take some humor, some drama, a regular sized boy and a miniature indian and you have the makings of a classic novel. Indian in the Cupboard novel study articles will help you set objectives such as acquisition of vocabulary, compare and contrast book and movie, creative writing and more.
  1. Grades 3-5 English Class: Creating a Unit for The Indian in the Cupboard
  2. Interactive Indian in the Cupboard Activities
  3. Indian in the Cupboard Lessons: Research and Projects