The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf is a classic of children’s literature.
Ferdinand Lesson Plan 1: Be Yourself
Ferdinand the Bull is different from all the other bulls. They prefer to romp around and fight, while Ferdinand likes to sit quietly and smell flowers. His mother, concerned, makes sure that Ferdinand isn’t lonely and that he really enjoys his quiet time in the fields. Once she’s sure, she lets him follow his bliss.
This is a nice way to introduce the concept of extroverts and introverts. Ferdinand is an introvert, while the other little bulls in the story are extroverts. Young children may recognize themselves on the continuum, or they might not identify with either Ferdinand or the others. Notice that the book doesn’t suggest that either option is the best choice.
Ferdinand is also not presented as shy or lacking in social skills. Is that how introverts are seen in your school?
This part of the book is also about what people like to do. Here are some ways to learn about these ideas:
- Distribute cow shapes or bee shapes to each student. Have students write down what they like to do on their shapes.
- Create a bulletin board with two sides. If you’re learning about introverts and extroverts, let those be the labels. For younger kids, go with “Quiet” and “Loud.” As a group, sort the shapes into the right parts of the bulletin board.
- Practice math skills by examining the numbers. Which side has more and which has less? Which activities have more shapes and which have less?How many different activities are on the board?
Ferdinand Lesson Plan 2: Flowers and Bees
Flowers and bees are key elements of the story. Pick up ideas for related activities while you’re enjoying the book.
Ferdinand Lesson Plan 3: Bullfights
Let older students learn about bullfighting. This is a controversial sport — or, as one of the linked articles below puts it, spectacle.
- Read about bullfights at Scholastic.
- Check out a PBS lesson plan on bullfighting. This plan uses video to explore Hemingway’s experience of bullfighting.
- Read about the economics of bullfighting.
- Learn some Spanish words relating to bullfighting.
- Ferdinand goes to the bullfights in Madrid. Check out Madrid in 3-D Google Earth:
Once the class has learned about bullfighting, have students prepare a report about the most interesting things they learned.
Older students could enjoy a debate on bullfighting:
- Divide the class into Pro and Con sides and give the groups time to gather facts supporting their positions.
- Allow students to alternate presenting their arguments. Give the opposing team time to rebut each argument before they present their next argument.
- Give points for each plausible argument presented.
- Give points for arguments which use specific facts.
- Give points for arguments that give the source of their specific facts.
- Consider inviting classroom visitors to judge the debate and name a winning side. You can also simply total points to determine a winner, or ask everyone in the class to vote Pro or Con at the end.
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