Because she is the sort of woman I hope to become.

WHY questions are tricky. I do a unit on WHY questions almost every year in the primary intensive support classroom, because a) they are more abstract, which makes them harder to answer, and b) they are so incredibly FUNCTIONAL. Students need to be able to answer ‘why’ questions on a daily basis, particularly at school. Starting with themselves, students are regularly asked to explain their actions (“Why are you late to school?”) and their feelings (“Why are you upset?”). WHY questions are also imbedded in classroom curriculum EVERYWHERE. (“Why did the plant grow? Why did you chose that answer? Why did the character in the book do _______?”). Asking and answering questions is also imbedded in the Common Core Standards.

You can find my previous post on WHY questions HERE.

This year I added the book “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney. I loved this book when I was growing up. It follows a girl named Alice as she learns about life from her grandfather. His most important piece of advice to her in the book is “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Alice grows up, does many things, and eventually decides to plant lupines as her piece of beauty.

WHY questions to ask while reading this book:

  • Why did Alice’s grandpa come to America?
  • Why did Alice want to travel when she grew up?
  • Why did people start calling her Miss Rumphius?
  • Why did the grown-up Miss Rumphius have to stay in bed for so long?
  • Why did Miss Rumphius decide to plant lupines?
  • Why did her hair turn white?
  • Why were lupines growing all over the headlands at the end of the book?

After reading the book, we made a poster of what we could each do to make the world a more beautiful place. We used tempera paint to make thumb print lupines up the side of our posters. I found the activity on this blog, and the worksheet is located HERE.

Miss Rumphius writing activity

You can listen and watch Miss Rumphius being read aloud on YouTube, if you cannot find a copy of the book at your local library.


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