Dr. Seuss in the Upper Grades

We’re just a few days away from Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2, and how are we to mark this special day in English literature when the good doctor is too often thought of as a “wee kiddies” author? Get your upper grades students into the spirit of Seuss not as readers, but as writers!

Step 1 in any great Dr. Seuss project? Read a few of his books. Pick your favorite, practice reading it aloud with as much flourish as you can muster, and then perform it for your class. Next, have your students do the same.

Now, a few ideas for becoming a classroom full of Seuss:

Be Your Own Seuss – This week, let your students have a few spare minutes here and there to doodle in their notebooks or on paper you provide. Let their imaginations run free. See what they doodle. And on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, let them dig through their doodles for inspiration to write a wonderful story of Loraxian proportions. Or something as simple as Fox in Socks.

The Class Seuss – Instead of relying on individual doodles to inspire students, spend a few minutes as a class coming up with ten wonderfully nonsensical words. Then spend a few minutes imagining two whimsically wild creatures; imagine what they look like, what they eat, and why these two creatures do not get along. Come up with multiple options for conflict. (Remember, conflict is the engine that propels any story!) Then break your class into several small groups, each tasked with creating a Seussian story.

A Humorous How-To – Dr. Seuss spent part of the World War II years creating humorous training films for the US military. In many of the films, lessons were taught by showing exactly what not to do, to humorous effect. Once again, assign students to small groups. Explain the concept of a training film that teaches what not to do and then give each group a topic such as How to Walk Quietly in the Hallway, How to Pick Out a Good Book at the Library, How to Take Notes, and How to Be a Teacher’s Helper. Then allow the groups to write their scripts. When everyone is done, have the groups act out all or parts of their imaginary films.

Have Dr. Seuss-inspired ideas of your own? Share them with your friends here at the Upper Grades Exchange!

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