Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers by Matt Bell

Children's author Matt Bell has had a successful year.  He just had his first two books published!  Hooray!  His two books... The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers (affiliate links to Amazon)... are about discrimination, segregation, diversity, accepting differences, and coming together to solve problems.  In each book, there are two groups of people who are at odds with one another and don't get along.  These people argue and treat each other poorly until something happens to bring them together to solve their problems.  Keep reading to learn more about The Rounders and Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers and to discover a language arts mini-unit plan you can use with your students!

The Rounders and the Tallers and the Jellies and the Crunchers by Matt Bell

The Rounders and Tallers

From Amazon: The Rounders and the Tallers is a tale of a town where its people have lost their way and separated themselves and the journey to come back together. While the adult leaders of two groups of people struggle to get along, it's a little boy, in his innocence and compassion, that teaches the people how to forgive and unite.

The Rounders and the Tallers by Matt Bell

The Jellies and Crunchers

From Amazon: The Jellies and the Crunchers is a tale of a town sharply divided by their own personal choice, in this case, what to eat and how to eat it! The two groups of town folk become more and more critical and angry with each other, which leads to a very crazy type of confrontation that will change the town forever. It takes the heart of a brave little girl to try something new and lead the town back together again. Come read about this quirky and interesting town and the even more interesting people groups that make it up.

The Jellies and Crunchers by Matt Bell

Language Arts Lesson Plan

In elementary school, students learn about story elements... characters, setting, problem, solution, important events, and themes.  They also learn how to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between two books.  You can use The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers as the basis for a four to five-lesson language arts unit about comparing and contrasting books.

The first day of the compare and contrast unit is pretty straightforward.  You're going to introduce The Rounders and the Tallers in the same way you'd introduce any reading book to your class.  You can read the story to your class as a read aloud or have them read it in partner groups or independently.  Then you'll review the basic story elements of the book:
  • characters: tall people (Tallers), round people (Rounders), the Taller boy and his parents, and the Rounder mayor
  • setting: a town near the beach, the beach, summer in parts of the book, a period of many years, possible present-day, and the town square
  • problem: The Rounders started discriminating against the Tallers because of a misunderstanding.  They put up signs around town and would not let the Tallers go to the beach or to other places.  The Tallers were not allowed to do anything!
  • solution: At the end of the story, the Rounders and Tallers came together to work out their differences and become a community again.
  • important events:  I'm not telling you those... read the book!  

The Tallers and the Rounders by Matt Bell


Lesson Two: The Jellies and The Crunchers

Lesson two of the language arts unit is essentially the same as lesson one.  The big differences will be you using The Jellies and the Crunchers this time and your students may want to start talking about how The Jellies and Crunchers is similar to The Rounders and Tallers.  No worries... it's all good!
  • characters: the Jellies who only eat sticky jelly, the Crunchers who only eat crunchy crackers, the mayor, the sheriff, the mayor's wife, little Jelly girl, little cruncher boy
  • setting: a town near the base of a mountain, the town square, possible present-day
  • problem: The Jellies and the Crunchers did not get along because they thought their ways were the right ways.
  • solution: The Jelly girl and the Cruncher boy came up with the idea to try something new and created a new way of doing things to help everyone get along.
  • important events: If I didn't tell them to you in lesson one, I'm certainly not going to tell them to you in lesson two... go read the book!

The Jellies and the Crunchers by Matt Bell

Lesson Three: Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer

During lessons one and two you focused on each book separately.  During lesson three, it is time to begin the conversation of how The Rounders and Tallers and The Jellies and Crunchers are the same and how they are different.

When comparing two books with my students for the first time, I often use the charts below.  If I'm working with younger students, I just use the first page.  I might even use a Venn diagram instead.  If I'm working with older students, I use both of the pages below.

Using the chart is pretty self-explanatory.  One thing I'd suggest though... if you are using this chart for the first time with your students, consider making transparencies of the pages, using them on an overhead (I'm old school; I still use transparencies.  It's OK if you use the modern-day equivalent of transparencies!), and filling in the charts together as structured practice.  How detailed you get when filling out each section is up to you.
  
Comparing Books by Kelly's Classroom Online

Comparing Books by Kelly's Classroom Online

To download a FREE copy of this reading comprehension activity (two pages in all), please click on one of the images above. Clicking one of these images will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers third party website.  This is a FREE download-- no purchase necessary.

The Jellies and the Crunchers by Matt Bell

Day Four: Paragraph Writing

By the third and fourth grade, students begin writing paragraphs that compare two topics or books.  On days one and two you read and discussed The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers with your class.  On day three you compared and contrasted their story elements and filled them in on the chart above.  Now on day four, you can wrap the unit up with some paragraph writing.

I teach younger students who need plenty of structured practice when it comes to paragraph writing.  In this situation, I'd make a transparency of lined paper and guide the students through the process of coming up with the main idea sentence and four supporting detail sentences.  I wouldn't tell the students what to write; we'd brainstorm the sentences together to make a decent paragraph.


To learn more about The Rounders and the Tallers and The Jellies and the Crunchers, you can visit Matt Bell's website at MattBellBooks.  You can also watch this video trailer from Covenant Books:


Can you think of another book with similar themes that we could use to compare and contrast with these two?  If so, what are they?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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