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A mother is a many-faceted thing. With Mother’s Day on the horizon, celebrate that diversity by exploring with your students means of achieving depth of character through the use of a pictorial outline. Outlining can help students set the stage for a creative writing assignment featuring imagined characters or an expository essay rooted typically in facts. In honor of Mother’s Day, allow this lesson plan to serve as a launching pad for your young students’ essay writing, with their mothers as the subject.
You’ll need four things:
- Requisite pencils/crayons for all;
- Wavy rulers (enough to be shared by all);
- Photocopies of a drawing of a female face (make sure drawing is large enough for students to write within the outline);
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Writing the Essay
1) Preparation: In advance of the class, select 6 or 7 songs that explore the central theme of “mother.” Richer recommendations include Kate Bush’s “Mother Stands for Comfort,” Pink Floyd’s “Matilda Mother,” Napoleon Murphy Brock’s “Hi Mom-I Love You,” The Monkees’ “Mommy and Daddy,” and Jerry Leiber’s and Mike Stoller’s “I’m a Woman,” as performed by Peggy Lee. Others songs that are useful although they don’t feature the mother as the central character include Cat Stevens’ “Pop Star,” and Frankie Valli’s “Stay.”
2) Distribution of Materials: Distribute pencils/crayons, rulers and photocopies of the drawing, which is to be called some variation of the Mom Canvas. Don’t instruct students to do anything with the Mom Canvas until after you introduce the next element of the exercise, the music.
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3) Inspiration & Analysis: After playing relevant excerpts from each song, prompt students to identify the role or the “face” of the mother in the song, and discuss. What is the emotion of or about the mother in the song? What does she represent, provide or mean to the people around her (people who may well include the singer)?
4) Organization: For each face of “Mom,” students should jot down the appropriate attribute or phrase somewhere within the drawing. Suggest that attributes focusing on or requiring Mom’s eyes might be designated to that respective area on the canvas, and attributes requiring her mouth might be designated to that respective area, etc.
Using the ruler, students should trace decorative circles around and encapsulate each phrase so that, at the end of the exercise, it will look like a face composed of mosaic tiles. In design, each student’s “Mom” will then be unique.
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5) Re-Organization: With the help of your students, arrange the attributes already identified in outline form on the board. The main idea or purpose should be a variation of: “Mothers Have Many Roles.” All of the attributes suggested by the songs and identified by the students will provide the supporting ideas. The conclusion might be that there is a decidedly unchanged attribute of a mother that is at work regardless of the numerous faces she tends to wear. This attribute can be left to students to determine, perhaps by show of hands or voting.
6) Personalization: After this group exercise is complete, pass out another clean copy of the Mom Canvas and have students fill in the many faces of their own mothers, this time using the music of their memory and their own thoughts as inspiration for the outlining of ideas.
7) Translation: On the following day, after reviewing their outlines for general organizational functionality, instruct students to write an essay on the many faces of their mothers, based on their outlining.
8) Reflection: When they’re done, have them read their essays aloud to share with the class. Encourage students to discuss the ways in which their outlines helped them to write the essays.
After mom's been explored, try this fun lesson plan for elementary students focused on siblings.
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Images © Andrei Merkulov