Using the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, Why)
Standards: In discussing
their readings, third graders will be able to:
- Talk about the authors' choice of words, meanings, and
- Refer to both their own prior knowledge and to relevant
information garnered during the discussions to explain,
support, and justify their ideas.
- The children will respond to literature by making connections
to their own lives. While students will be able to identify
characteristics of fantasy, they will also reference that
literature in making comparisons to real life situations.
Location: P.S. 202
Subject: Language Arts
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The students will seek answers to the 5 W's to generate solutions
to provided by various authors; generate their alternative solutions
to the problems outlined in the stories, while generating an action
plan for the most effective solutions.
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Jack and the Beanstalk or any other story with which children
- Chart paper and markers
- Crayons and drawing paper
Although this would be a good lesson within a unit on safety, the
context for this specific lesson was the children's ability to use
the Language Arts prompts of the 5 W's to creatively solve problems
presented from literature and from real life situations.
- Ask the children what they would do if they found a bear in
- Is it important to be safe?
- How do you stay safe at home?
- At school?
- Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears to them and solicit predictions
about what will happen next. Questions may include:
- Who got into the house?
- How did the bears get into the house?
- Why would the bears do that?
- Is there a way to keep the bears out?
- How do you keep intruders out of your own home?
Questions were asked intermittently throughout the readings. Often,
a question arises from the children's answers. Incorporate the
children's responses in the questions that follow, this keeps
the discussion brisk and interesting. For lower functioning students,
you may stop at any point and ask specific Who, What, When, Where
and Why questions to ensure comprehension of the story.
- Students will identify problems as they occur, using the 5
W's as the questions to be answered. For example, a problem for
Jack (in Jack and the Beanstalk) was that his mother was upset
with his decision to accept the magic beans.
- Students are then asked to offer solutions to those problems,
including the solution to the story, and offering a solution to
a potential real life situation (for example, as in Jack and the
Beanstalk, when a parent is upset with a child's decision or choice).
Hint: Possible solutions might include keeping a dog for protection;
putting a lock on the door; having Momma Bear or Poppa Bear stay
at home. Accept all possible solutions!
- Have the class decide on the best possible solution for each
'problem' by consensus.
- Once the best solution is decided, students can then devise
action plans. Children could verbally describežand then illustratežhow
Goldilocks could prevent future visitors.
Hint: For example, Goldilocks could have a neighbor watch
her house for the Bear Family and then "beep" her if a bear showed
up at Goldilock's house.
Have students identify problems and possible solutions to Jack and
the Beanstalk, and to Little Red Riding Hood. An illustration and
at least one sentence will suffice.
Hint: Solutions to Little Red Riding Hood might include
the character e-mailing grandma instead of actually visiting or
taking another friend with her when she would go through the woods
Assessment will be conducted throughout the class discussions. In
this case, assessment is valuable if the children are verbalizing
their thoughts and can plan out solutions.
Children's evaluation of viable solutions is essential to emotional
growth and to their sense of creative problem solving abilities.
The actual number of creative problem solving ideas could also be
used as an assessment. The written homework should be checked to
be grammatically and mechanically correct, and class assessments
Stories can be adjusted to level of maturity: Caps for Sale, and/or
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day can
be used. Faithful Elephants can be used with more mature children.
The length and type of required follow-up assignment is also adjustable.
I conducted this lesson with both my 2nd and 3rd grade students,
and it was very successful. Some students preferred Alexander and
the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to the Goldilocks
and Red Riding Hood stories because they preferred the illustrations.
Class discussions were funny and creative. I also achieved some
insight into the personal safety concerns of my own students and
I was able to allay some fears.
Warning: when trying to carry the problem-solving
message to real life situations, it will require more lessons! Because
we do not want to instill fear or apprehension into our students,
it is best to focus on positive ways to feel safe and secure. Emphasize
that these stories are fantasies and that children can always go
to adults for help with problems.