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Historical Fiction
Grade: 4-5
Subject(s): Word Processing
Required products: Tool Factory Word Processor
  • George Washington’s Breakfast - by Jean Fritz
  • A Jar of Dreams - by Yoshiko Ushida
  • Amber Brown is Not a Crayon - by Paula Danziger (or another realistic fiction text)
  • Polar Bear - by Malcolm Penny (or any informational text)
  • Graphic organizer made in Tool Factory
  • Chart paper with model organizer
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Overview
    Students will be able to identify what historical fiction is, and compare it to informational text and realistic fiction.
    1) Write the words “history” and “fiction” on the board and ask students to define them. (They should answer history is something that happened in the past and fiction is a story that is not true).
    2) Now write the words "historical fiction" on the board and ask what they think it means (they should put the words together and determine it is an untrue story from the past).
    3) Explain that when reading historical fiction books, the author uses history and fiction together. Sometimes the characters are historical for example, in "George Washington’s Breakfast" the modern day George is not real, he is a young boy who lives today. It is his story, but he talks about things that George Washington did when he was alive. He learns all about various parts of George Washington’s life, such as what he had for breakfast.
    4) Now explain that most of the time a historical fiction book is a fake story that takes place in a specific time period and a specific place such as in "A Jar of Dreams", which we will look at today.
    5) Another element of a historical fiction book is it usually has an author’s note at the beginning or end of the book.
    6) First we are going to look at other kinds of books so we don’t confuse the different genres that we have studied.
    7) Show model graphic organizer on chart paper, but do not fill in the boxes ahead of time. Download the worksheet below, for a model organizer.
    8) While using the graphic organizer begin by filling out the boxes that are labelled setting, characters, and problem of the informational text and the realistic fiction book. Point out an example: the problem in Amber Brown is that her best friend is moving away.
    9) Say, we will now read only Chapter 1 out loud of "A Jar of Dreams".
    10) Read Chapter 1 without stopping.
    11) From Chapter 1 we can identify the setting, characters, and problem. Leave the events and solution blank for if you decide to use this book with a guided reading group.
    12) Now that you have recorded on the chart the problem, settings, and characters, ask students how they can use this chart to identify differences in the three kinds of genres. Hopefully they will notice the setting in "A Jar of Dreams" is much more specific and there is no problem in the informational text that gets solved by the end of the book. You may have to discuss the difference in problems in a story and problems in nature, that in stories we tend to have solutions to problems, but not necessarily in nature.
    13) After discussing the differences, give students the following questions to answer in their reading journals:
    a. What is historical fiction?
    b. How does historical fiction compare to other genres we have studied? Use specific examples to explain your answer.

    Follow-up Activities
    Hand out individual graphic organizers to use with whatever historical fiction book each guided reading groups is reading. "A Jar of Dreams" would be good to continue reading (depending on when in the year) with your middle/high readers.

    Attached are other lessons you can do with this book.
    Cross-Curriculum Ideas
    Look at attached lessons to see lessons from this book related to social studies.
    Downloadable Worksheets
    Mac users: To download, ctrl-click on the worksheet and choose "save link to disk"
  • Individual Organizer Made in Tool Factory Word Processor
  • Model Organizer for Chart made in Tool Factory Word Processor
  • Related Lesson - Making Timelines using "A Jar of Dreams"
  • Amazon - Get Books Here!
  • Related Lesson - Comparing Cultures
    Choose your standard:
    Tessa Weiss
    4th Grade Teacher
    Georgian Forest Elementary School
    3100 Regina Drive
    Silver Spring MD 20906
    Phone: 301-460-2170 Fax: