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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Last updated Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Author: Washington Irving
Illustrator: Robert Van Nutt
Date of Publication: 1995
ISBN: 1596792256
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow takes place in Tarrytown, and tells the story of schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, Connecticut native, who comes to teach in a one-room schoolhouse. He becomes the neighborhood song master, reads Cotton Mather, steeps himself in local folklore, and competes with Brom Bones for the affections of Katrina. One afternoon, after being rebuffed by Katrina, he briskly rides off on his landlord's horse, sees an apparition of a headless horseman, and is never seen again in Sleepy Hollow. The townspeople have a myriad of theories concerning his disappearance. This classic tale is steeped in atmosphere and reveals a great deal about the social and political history of the time.

Note to readers:
•  This book has a big vocabulary. As you're reading, use context clues in the story and pictures to help the children figure out what words mean.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Vocabulary: Dutch, smarting, urchin, brooding, bumpkins, lair, trooper, bachelor, gallantries, homestead, court (as in courting a person), mettle, sumptuous, madcap, elusive.
•  What do you think the story is about? When does it take place?
•  How do the people dress? How is it similar to how we dress today? How is it different?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Based on the author's description of the town, do you think Sleepy Hollow is an appropriate name? Why or why not?
•  Why was Ichabod Crane scared while walking home from the Dutch wife's house?
•  Do you like scary stories? Do you believe them? Even if you don't, do you sometimes get scared when you go out alone at night?
•  What was the real reason for Ichabod Crane's visits to the Van Tassel house? Do you think Ichabod was sneaky? Why or why not?
•  Looking at the pictures, what types of practical jokes did Brom Bones play on Ichabod Crane?
•  Why were Ichabod and Brom in competition with each other?
•  Why did Brom Bones sit by himself in the corner at the party?
•  Have you ever done something mean because you were jealous?
•  What do you think happened to Ichabod Crane?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a lantern out of construction paper. Fold a piece of paper in half length wise (like a hot dog). Cut out 4 or 5 sections (~1/4 inch wide and 2 inches long) along the fold. These will be the holes that the light shines through. Unfold your paper and wrap it so that it creates a tube with your holes going from top to bottom. Glue the edges of the paper together to hold your lantern together. You can glue different colored paper inside the lantern (yellow or orange) to represent the light/flame. Cut a strip of paper for a handle and glue it to the inside of the top of the lantern.
•  Cut out a jack-o-lantern like the Headless Horseman's head. You can glue yellow paper behind the holes to represent light/flame.
•  Create a silhouette. BRING AHEAD OPTION: DESK LAMP/FLASHLIGHT Tape a piece of black construction paper to the dry erase/chalk board. Have a child sit in front of the board. Shine the light in front of the child so that a profile shadow is cast on the black paper. Trace the shadow on the paper. Cut out along the trace line and mount on a piece of white paper. When you're all done, mix the silhouettes up and have the kids guess which silhouette belongs to which child.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!