Home » Blog » Back to School #6: A Fine, Fine School, by Sharon Creech

Back to School #6: A Fine, Fine School, by Sharon Creech

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students think about what can be learned in school and what cannot be learned in school.  As students return from the summer holidays, it is good to reflect on all that was learned and experienced over the summer and the reasons for returning to school.  This lesson enables kids to share some of their summer experiences while understanding the importance of more structured learning.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Each child will be able to identify five things typically learned at school and five things typically learned at home.

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each child will complete a “T Chart” with two lists:  Learn/Do at School and Learn/Do At Home.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Welcome children back to the school and especially back to the library!  Emphasize how good it is to be together and how much you are looking forward to another year’s learning journey with them.  Ask provocative questions like these:

  • I wonder . . . . Do we learn everything we need to know in school?
  • Are there some things we learn at home or during the holidays?
  • To be very smart, should we go to school more?

2. Main:

Share A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss.  Check for understanding as you go.  When I teach this book I usually pause and ask the children, “Would you like to go to school on Saturdays?”  “Would you like to go to school on Sundays?”  “Would you like to go to school during your holidays?”  “Would you like to go to school over the summer?”  The kids enjoy screaming “NOOOOOO” every time.

If you can arrange it, ask your principal to stop by and ask the children if they would like to go to school on the weekends or over the holidays.  This is a perfect book for a principal to read to a class, so see if you can arrange for him/her to make a guest appearance.

Once you are sure that the children understand the story, show them how to construct a “T-Chart.”  You can do this as a class or ask children to work in groups.  The T-Charts should be set up so that there are two lists:

  • Learn At Home
  • Learn At School

You may wish to use a graphic organizer with three columns and let the column in the middle be a “Learn BOTH at Home and at School” category, but I prefer to keep the categories separate.  Doing so forces the children to think about the differences between learning at home and learning at school and that conceptual difference is key to this lesson.

The children will have their own ideas, but some of them could include:

Learn At Home                                                           Learn At School

How to brush your teeth                                            How to read

How to wash dishes                                                    How to write

How to walk the dog                                                   How to walk in a line

How to care for a younger child                               How to take turns

How to grow a garden                                                How to raise your hand

How to climb a tree                                                     How to play basketball

How to go shopping                                                    How to use a computer

How to do laundry                                                       How to play an instrument

How to take a phone message                                  How to sing in a choir

How to wrap a present                                               How to do math

How to bake a cake                                                     How to use an atlas

Give the children about ten minutes to work in small groups on their T-Charts, then come back together and compile a class chart.  Students can finish their own charts as the class chart takes shape.  Make sure that each child has at least five ideas from the “Home” category and five ideas from the “School” category.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the children where they do most of their learning.  They answer, and the big idea, of course, is that we learn different things in different environments, but that we can always learn.  We are all lifelong learners.

Collect the work and make sure that the homeroom teacher has the T-Charts for the children’s language notebooks.  The T-Chart or graphic organizer is a writing extension and fits nicely as a short piece of written work as the response to a piece of literature.

  1. Paper
  2. Pencils
  3. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss
  4. Flipchart paper and markers, a whiteboard, or a smart board for scribing the class T-Chart.
  5. If you choose to do the art extension, you’ll need paper and markers for the word strips.

Notes:  If you like the idea of this lesson, but are looking for a different instructional plan, please check out the excellent ideas from The Picture Book Teacher here:  http://thepicturebookteachersedition.blogspot.ae/2013/07/a-fine-fine-school-by-sharon-creech.html  She has done a lot more work than I have, and there are more lesson ideas to choose from.  However, not all those ideas are writing or reflective.  I like the way this lesson is structured because it asks the kids to do some original thinking and reflect on their summer experiences.

If you don’t yet have a display in the library, this would be a great lesson to extend with a simple art project.  Make a giant backpack out of light colored paper and have the kids make word strips or pictures with their ideas about what they like to learn in school.  Paste these onto the backpack.  Likewise, create a giant house or apartment block and let kids make word strips or pictures for things they learn at home.  The title of the display could be “Learning at Home and Learning at School.”  You could even add their pictures next to their ideas to fill up your school house at the beginning of the year!

Recommended books for this lesson:

  1. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss
Key Terms:

School, Students, Principals, Holidays, Learning