Kids seem to really enjoy a good twist on a story. It makes them laugh. They chuckle and chatter imagining an outcome other than the one they’re used to hearing. When I taught this lesson, that’s exactly what happened.
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If you’re familiar with the story, Jack and the Beanstalk*, you probably think of Jack, and rightfully so! He and his mother were poor, desperate and in need. Jack tries to do a good thing by listening to his mom and selling the calf. He’s vulnerable and listens to the old man who gives him 5 beans for the cow.
Meanwhile, we grow up afraid of the giant. He’s huge. He’s loud. He’s grumpy. He’s tired. In some versions of the story, it states that the giant stole from Jack’s dad. He certainly has a bad reputation!
Yet, have we ever thought about the giant’s perspective? Have we ever heard his story? Historically, we’ve only heard Jack’s side of the story. Well, this lesson gives the giant a chance to speak and our writers get to decide what he would say!
If you are a public school teacher, this lesson is excellent for helping students think beyond the main characters and into the hearts and minds of supporting characters. Being able to envision the same story from the perspective of each character can be challenging. This is a fun way to introduce that concept.
Thus, completing this writing prompt can address the following Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.3, RL.K.9, RL.1.3, RL.1.9, RL2.3, RL.2.6, RL.3.6, RL.4.3, RL.4.6, RL.5.3, RL.5.6,
While I post a lesson for the Giant’s perspective, feel free to take a couple of days or even a week to have the students imagine and write Jack’s perspective, his mother’s perspective, the old man’s perspective and the giant’s wife’s perspective.
Completing the 5 perspectives will foster the skill of thinking about each character’s thoughts and feelings for future stories and books that they read. This exercise will undoubtedly strengthen, to some degree, students’ ability to meet the Common Core State Standards listed above.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN THIS LESSON, choose the version of Jack and the Beanstalk that you would like to read to your child or students.
There are many versions to this story. If you have the time to read multiple versions of it, you will definitely find similarities and differences. This could be a good time to have your child or students compare and contrast two texts on the same topic which would address the Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.9
Some ideas for obtaining at least one version of Jack and the Beanstalk are:
Finding a book at your local library
Purchasing a book on Amazon*
NOW FOR THE LESSON!
To get a full understanding on how I conduct each writing lesson you may want to read the Writing Prompts Introduction post. The lesson outlined below (and all other prompts posted) will make more sense and be easier to follow and use. Here’s the lined paper I use for Grades K-2 and Grades 2-7
- Tell the storline: You’re going to write in 1st person as if you are the giant. You’re going to try and convince the reader that you are indeed a nice man and not mean.
2. Brainstorm background information according to the text that you read to the students you’re working with:
- Jack was poor
- A man with 5 magic beans bought Jack’s cow
- Jack’s mother threw the beans out the window
- A giant beanstalk grew
- Jack climbed it, saw a castle and went into the castle
- The woman hid Jack
- The giant had bags of gold coins and was counting it
- The giant fell asleep
- Jack stole the money bag
- Jack went home and then returned
- Jack later stole the hen and the harp
3. Brainstorm thoughts that the giant could have had:
- Jack came to me and entered MY house without permission
- He HID in MY house
- Jack stole from me 3 times!
- I was tired because…
- I was grumpy because…(describe a bad day that doesn’t involve Jack)
- I was counting my money because I’m saving for (good cause)
- I actually say, “Fee Fi Fo Fum…” Create a rhyme! Words that rhyme with fum are: gum, thumb, numb, come, some, hum, bum, tum…)
- I didn’t die when I fell from the beanstalk, I just got hurt.
4. Brainstorm kind gestures that the giant could offer
- Inviting Jack and his mom to dinner
- Buying a new cow for Jack and his mom
- Providing another animal, machine or tool that can generate income
- Hiring Jack and his mom to work for him and his good cause
5. Show the 5 sections to the story:
- Introduction/Main Point
- First of all,
- Conclusion/Kind Gesture
NOW TO WRITE!
Guide the students through the following steps. They are free to use the suggestions or write their own words. Encourage them to refer to the list of thoughts the giant could have had to form their argument.
Introduction/Main Point: Hello! I am the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. I just want you to know that I am not mean!
First of all, (state and explain the first reason)…
Second of all, (state and explain the second reason)…
Thirdly, (state and explain the third reason)…
For the conclusion the giant repeats the main point and ends by offering a kind gesture.
As soon as the students finish their writing, they can work on an art accent around the border of their writing. Simple art accents are highly motivating to students and reward them for their hard word.
For this particular lesson, the students can use gold glitter* to form gold coins on their border. Then, they can glue huge googly eyes to represent the giant. It’s important to note that while I suggest ideas for the border, students are free to create their own ideas using the glitter and googly eyes, or not.
Check out these examples:
Games that we played following this lesson were:
Click on this link above to find a list of sentences relative to the story, Jack and the Beanstalk