Weaving Children’s Literature into Social Studies K–5

D. Miss Rumphius Story

Suggested Time: 25 minutes


  • blank overhead
  • overhead of page 2 of Miss Rumphius Question: Could this story have taken place in Acadia? (Appendix IX)

Miss Rumphius has been selected as a model book because it is a beautifully written and powerful story, and also has several curricular uses.

  1. Read aloud Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney. (It would be a good idea to practice ahead of time, to help get maximum fluency and expression.)
  1. Discuss the story, asking participants what is really happening in this story.
  1. Outline the form of the story, similar to the following, in a table on a blank overhead:
Alice’s Grandfather Miss Rumphius Little Alice
Set goals for Alice (Miss Rumphius) Set goals for Little Alice Accepts the goals for herself
Traveled to faraway places Traveled to faraway places Wants to travel to faraway places
Lived by the sea Lived by the sea Wants to live by the sea
Made the world more beautiful Made the world more beautiful Wants to make the world more beautiful but doesn’t yet know how
  1. Bring out that in this story we see the development of a family tradition. (Grade 1)
  1. Also bring out through discussion that we see life repeating itself over three generations, and that life is cyclical and that family traditions are cyclical. (TCC)
  1. Talk briefly about the responsibility that the people in the story feel towards their world and the desire to make it even more beautiful. Point out that this has relevance for students to environmental and global citizenship issues. (Environment)
  1. Ask where the story takes place. Although we cannot know exactly where it takes place, it is obviously in New England. Maine is part of Acadia, and so a strong case can be made that this story took place in Acadia. (Grade 2) An activity for students is to prove through an inquiry project that the story could or could not have taken place in Acadia. One of the accompanying activities sets out this project. Factors students might consider in their investigation include:
    • Lots of snow in winter
    • Very hilly and rocky land right near the sea
    • People knew the Indians
    • Rocky seashore
    • Shipping and fishing industries
    • Little village churches
    • Lupines grow well and seem to grow everywhere
    • Coastline is very indented, lots of lovely little coves and bays
    • Evergreen trees and leafy trees grow together
    • The ground is stony, the land is rocky
    • Miss Rumphius’ grandfather came to North America on a large ship

Appendix X contains a Miss Rumphius handout for teachers to take away to use with students for this activity and that model using literature for Inquiry. The document title is Miss Rumphius Question: Could this story have taken place in Acadia? and the document filename is Miss Rumphius in Acadia.doc.

Appendix XI is an alternate, more detailed activity involving the Miss Rumphius story that integrates Language Arts and an Inquiry project to find the answer to the question: What is Acadia Like? The document filename is What is Acadia Like.doc.

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This resource was developed by ERLC as a result of a grant from Alberta Education to support implementation.