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Some Birthday!

Last updated Friday, June 3, 2005

Author: Patricia Polacco
Date of Publication: 1991
ISBN: 0671727508
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2005

Synopsis: The entire family has forgotten Patricia's birthday. And to make matters worse, Dad has proposed an evening trip to the Clay Pit at the edge of town--"one of the scariest places on earth." Armed with campfire provisions and outfitted in rain gear and galoshes, Dad, Patricia, her brother Rich and cousin Billy embark on the eerie adventure. But when Dad walks off to investigate a mysterious rustling, the children are certain they've spotted the notorious Clay Pit Monster and run screaming all the way home. Belly laughs abound as Dad reveals the monster's true identity, and then the real fun begins--a party for the birthday girl complete with cake and presents.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Does the title sound like something good or bad happened? What do you think the story is about?
•  What is your favorite birthday memory?
•  Who celebrates your birthday with you
•  What would you do if everyone forgot your birthday?
•  Look at the cover. Why do you think the people are so scared?
•  Are you afraid of the dark?
•  Have you ever seen a monster? How did it make you feel and why?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How does Patricia help her dad?
•  Who was the Monster? Do you think there really is a monster in the Clay Pit?
•  Why do you think that Patricia's dad let her think that he forgot her birthday? What would you have done if you were she?
•  Look at her gestures in the book. How do you think she is feeling each time?
•  What did the family bring with them on the trip? What else would you have brought?
•  Would you like to spend your birthday the way Patricia did? Why or why not?
•  What kind of presents did Patricia receive? What will she remember most about her birthday?
•  Why do you think that the book is called Some Birthday?
•  Have you ever been camping? Does it sound like something you would enjoy?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Monster mask for the Monster at Clay Pit Bottoms. (Bring ahead option - paper mache-masks or grocery bags to make masks). Write or tell the story of how he got there.
•  Make a list of the "popular" monsters (Big Foot, Loch Ness Monster, Frankenstein, etc.) and draw "photographs" of them in the wild.
•  Make a birthday card for someone special to you (even if it's not their birthday!) . Inside write some reasons why that person is special, or give them "coupons" for doing things around the house.

Special activities:
•  Tell a ghost story.
•  Play "camera" and "photographer." One child is the photographer, the other is the camera. The photographer points the camera (who has his/her eyes closed) toward something. The camera opens and shuts his/her eyes very quickly. The camera then has to describe everything that he/she saw in that brief moment.
•  Bring ahead option for prize books: bring birthday wrapping paper and have the children wrap the prize books to be given out later.

*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!