The Chinese Brothers....Five or Seven?

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TSWBAT compare and contrast similar literary texts, identify themes, and write a combined summary.

Big Idea

What's so special about these twelve guys?

Warm Up

10 minutes

Picture books are a wonderful resource to use with kids of all ages.  Some are actually written for older children or adults, though with a mindset of such books being "simple," excellent learning resources can fall through the cracks.  Using two versions of the same story is a very effective way to work on the skill RL.5.2 Determining a theme of a story from details in the text and summarizing, as well as RL.5.3 comparing and contrasting two or more characters, settings, events drawing on specific details in the text.  With picture books, it's possible to analyze the similarities and differences in a single class setting. 

On the Smart Board is a World Map (it's important to display one that doesn't split Asia in two.)  I call on a volunteer to answer the question,  Which continent China is located on?  After the student answers correctly, I explain that this lesson will be about The Chinese Brothers. We will use two versions of the story about the Chinese Brothers.

Some of the students may be familiar with one or both of the literary texts, and will be excited.  The storyline in each is popular.

The second version of the story takes place at the Great Wall of China, so before I read either, I show the class a picture to give a visual connection when I read it. (Shows the length of The Great Wall on a map and show An image of The Great Wall of China).

Chinese Brothers Book Share


30 minutes

The students are given a T-chart and write the title of both books in the chart.  As I read, they take notes on details in each story (Working on her T-Chart). I begin with the primary version from 1938, The Five Chinese Brothers, by Claire Huchet Bishop.  We discuss briefly before I begin the next book, The Seven Chinese Brothers, by Margaret Mahy written in 1990.

Beforehand, I prepare a "Brother Characteristics" poster for Five Brothers and Seven Brothers so they can keep everyone's extraordinary abilities straight.  This becomes more crucial while reading the second book, which is more involved.

Now that both books have been read, they compile a list of the similarities and differences between the two (Looking for details in the text). I pick sticks to put them into pairs for this.  Two minds are better than one when it comes to recalling the specifics and sharing their notes (Collaboration). As was predicted by one of my students, the information is then transferred into a Venn Diagram to illustrate exactly what was the same...and what was different...between the two versions of this Chinese Tall Tale T(win Venns).

Interesting article about the The Five Chinese Brothers.


15 minutes

As a class we list the themes of this folk tale on the Smart Board (Writing various themes). The kids use the Brother Characteristic Chartsthe Venn Diagrams, their T-Charts , and the text itself to write a comparative summary.   Together they create this combined comparative summary of the two versions (Writing Comparative Summaries), and explain how the characters responded to the challenges (and there were many) set before them.

Written Comparison of the Two Books

T-Chart and Venn Diagram

T-Chart and pg. one of Comparison and Page two and Venn Diagram