Goals and Objectives--Grades 3 - 5
Voices and Choices--Esther Hunn
Note: It is a good idea to print
Level One for easy reference.
Esther Hunn is an 83-year-old woman who has
spent most of her life in Springfield. She has lived at home and
taken care of various members of her family. Only her sister
Pauline is left and Esther is considering moving them out of "the
big house" to a smaller, more-manageable living space.
These themes can be explored with either a social studies or
language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other
resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other
cultures, students' own lives.
- Family responsibilities and how they shape one's role in
- Growing old and taking care of oneself. Students can
examine their understanding of old age and how they feel about
becoming an old person. What can they learn from someone who is at
the other end of life's spectrum?
These questions, which come at the end of each story (minus "the
answer"), can be used to start class discussions or be assigned as
Where has Esther lived her whole life? Why is she considering
moving and where might she go?
Esther has spent her whole life in Springfield, except for a few
years she spent in Cleveland, OH, for library training. At the age
of 83, she is still taking care of her sister Pauline. Friends are
worried that Esther's home is too much for her and have advised her
to move into a community for elderly people. She is choosing
between apartments for seniors in Springfield, a trailer in
Florida, or staying put.
Do you know anyone as old as Esther? Who is the oldest person
you know? What is this person's relationship to you? Where does he
or she live?
Find out if students know any elderly people. Some students may
have grandparents or elderly family members living at home or in
the neighborhood. Other students may never have met their
grandparents or had any interaction with people older than their
parents. If there is a home for the elderly near your school, you
might organize a field trip to visit the home, allowing students to
have contact with seniors.
How do you feel about growing old? Would you like to be as old
as Esther? What do you think it feels like to be 83 years old?
Students may have negative stereotypes about growing old,
especially if they don't have grandparents. Help students move
beyond these stereotypes and think about growing old as a natural
process that is part of being human.
What has been Esther's role in her family? What kind of
responsibilities has Esther had?
Esther grew up in a family of six children. She has always had
the responsibilities of a care giver. She and her brother Wally
helped to provide for both their parents and siblings throughout
the years. Because of her responsibilities, Esther learned skills
that helped her family survive; for example, she can drive a
What kinds of family responsibilities do you have? What is your
role in your family?
Students might want to make a list of all the different family
responsibilities or jobs they can think of--as they call them out,
list them on the board. Then ask students to choose the jobs that
they are responsible for or share with other family members. These
jobs may range from caring for a pet to making their bed. Students
may view their family role in terms of where they come in the
family hierarchy, i.e., the eldest or youngest child.
Why do you think Esther decides to stay in her house instead of
moving? What would you have done?
For her age, Esther still feels confident that she can take care
of herself and of her sister. She tells us that she has never liked
to make decisions. A move would mean a lot of decisions about what
to do with her family's things. Moreover, Esther has lived most of
her life in this home and probably feels very attached to it.
These are suggested classroom activities and student projects
that you may want to use with your students or as models to create
1. Oral Interviews
The theme of this interview is to learn about life from the
point of view of someone older than your parents. Have you ever
wondered what it's like to grow old?
Interview a grandparent, an elderly aunt or uncle, or maybe someone
in your neighborhood and find out about his or her life experiences
and what it's like to grow old. You might ask questions like:
- When were you born?
- Where did you grow up?
- What are your happiest childhood memories?
- Where have you lived throughout your life?
- What is the hardest thing about growing old? What is the
easiest or best thing?
- If you could live your life over again, would you do anything
- What advice can you give to me about living my life and growing
Make sure you take notes during your interview. You may even
want to record the interview using a tape recorder. Notes or a tape
recording will give you a "record" of your subject's memories and
thoughts. Your subject is the person you have interviewed.
2. Writing a Story
This story will be based on the memories of the person you
interviewed for activity #1.
You will need:
- notes or tape recording from the interview
- blank paper
- colored pencils, crayons, or markers.
Using the notes or tape recording from your interview choose
part of the interview that could become a story; for example, if
your subject told you about their childhood. Write down this story
word for word. On several blank pieces of paper, draw pictures to
illustrate this story. You may want to transfer the story onto the
pages with your illustrations.
3. Narrative Map
- Draw a map depicting your life from when you were born to the
- Draw another map where you imagine the path your life might
take as you grow older. Try and take your map all the way to age
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