Lesson: The Sweetest Fig

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Lesson Objective

1. Read THE SWEETEST FIG by Chris Van Allsburg. 2. Complete cloze passage to demonstrate comprehension after reading.

Lesson Plan

1. Review characteristics of fantasy from "Introduction to Chris Van Allsburg" lesson using handout, "Characteristics of Fantasy".  Relate characteristics to Two Bad Ants for review.


Setting: Settings is present tense, in realistic places like the kitchen, front yard, etc.

Characters: The ants are fictional characters but act in sensible ways appropriate to each situation they encounter.  (You may want to refer to any picture in the book and discuss what the ants are doing...how it is appropriate) 

Problem: A problems are solved with a sort of "magic".....the ants could not survive the situations they encounter (falling into a garbage disposal, floating in hot coffee, etc.)

Plot: There is no "science" that can explain this story.  It is certainly fantasy.


2. Introduce The Sweetest Fig by showing the title page of the book.  Ask students to tell what fruit is pictured on the page ~ a fig.  Ask students if they've every seen an actual fig.  I only had one student in all of my teaching years actually respond that they've seen a fig...his parents owned a grocery store.  I have looked for a fig to show students but have never had success in my area. Show "The Fabulous Fig" to build some background.





3. If your school permits snacks, serve each student a fig newton cookie. Explain that the filling is made from the fig fruit pictured on the title page.


4. Students may read the book with a partner or small group, depending on how many copies are available.  After they read, ask the following questions to check for comprehension:


What is the setting of the story?  Paris, France; Bastille Day


How did the woman offer to pay Dr. Bibot?  She wanted to give him some of her special figs that would make your dreams come true.


What kind of man is Dr. Bibot?  Describe him....uncaring, nasty, selfish


Explain what role the fig played in the story ending.  Marcel (the dog) ate the fig, so his dreams came true.  Marcel wished to be the human, and he wished Dr. Bibot would be the dog.  Marcel, the human, would get revenge on the nasty dentist!


5. In advance, print copies of The Sweetest Fig file.  There is a cloze passage and answer sheet; be sure to keep the answer sheet separate. Have students use the book to locate the answers to fill in each blank and record their answers on the answer sheet.  I ask students to staple the answer sheet on top of the cloze passage when they turn it in.   


6. If there is extra time, allow students to read some of Chris Van Allsburg's other books.  Remind them to work on their Picture Book Reports. 



When scoring the cloze passage answers, you may want to be flexible with the answers.  For some of the answers, there may be more than one correct answer.  It's best to try it yourself before the students begin working on it.


Also, for special needs students, you may want to create a word bank to use with the cloze passage. 

Lesson Resources

The Sweetest Fig   Classwork
The Fabulous Fig


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