Charlotte's Web

Students explore the meaning of true friendship by reading E.B. White's classic novel Charlotte's Web, examining its themes, setting, character and language, and learning to develop empathy for others.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students will explore the meaning of true friendship by reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Charlotte’s Web, a classic novel written in 1952, clearly illustrates how difficult and scary it can be to make a friend, yet how rewarding a true friendship really is. Over the course of the novel, students will consider what it means to be a good friend, whether or not friendship is always easy, and whether or not conflicts and struggle really are an important part of strengthening friendships. By deeply connecting with the characters, students will learn about the power of helping others, how creativity and determination can help solve problems, and that people can and do change. Students will also begin to understand the cycle of life and beauty, and the emotional responses that come with death through the eyes of Wilbur. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with other units, will provide the foundation for developing empathy and understanding about true friendship and life.

Charlotte’s Web was chosen not only because of the strong theme of friendship and life, but because it is a classic in children’s literature. Charlotte’s Web was written in the early 1950s and contains themes and language that are more archaic than other texts from the year. Therefore, students will learn how to analyze themes, settings, characters and language that are less familiar and relatable.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (HarperCollins Publishers, 2012)    —  680L

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What are the characteristics of a strong friendship?
  • What can death teach us about how to live? 

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

admiration amused anxiety appalled appeal/lure arose bloodthirsty boast brutal cautiously clever commotion complimentary conspiracy dazed decency detested disgust dreary dud enchanted endure envy fibs frantic gloomy gullible humble hysterics injustice listless loathed modest neglected objectionable praise radiant relieved runt salutations scheming sedentary shamelessly shrieked slogan sociable triumph triumphantly unbearable vaguely vanish versatile wearily wondrous

Root/Affix

-able -less -ly -ous -tion in- un-

Content Knowledge and Connections

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Previous Fishtank ELA Connections

Lesson Map

1

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 1

    RL.3.3

Defend an opinion about whether or not all members of the family have the same perspective about Wilbur.

2

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 2

    RL.3.3

Analyze how the author uses the details of chapter two to deepen a readers understanding of each family members perspective of Wilbur.

3

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 3

    RL.3.3

Explain how Wilbur’s interactions with the goose help the reader get a better understanding of who he is.

4

Writing

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Writers combine sentences to make their writing more interesting.

5Essential Task

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 4

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.4

Describe how E.B. White creates the feeling of loneliness.

6

Discussion & Writing

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 1-5

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.d

    SL.3.1

Describe Wilbur by closely reading a text, participating in a class discussion, and writing a well-organized essay to support an idea.

7

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 5

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.4

Analyze the significance of the words Wilbur uses to describe Charlotte and what this reveals about him.

8

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 6

    RL.3.3

    RL.3.4

Describe Templeton and how the others feel about him.

9

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 7-8

    RL.3.3

Explain different perspectives by analyzing different characters points of views and reactions to key events in a text.

10

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 9

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Describe how Wilbur is feeling at the end of the chapter and why.

11Essential Task

Discussion & Writing

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 1-10

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.d

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.c

    SL.3.1.d

Describe Wilbur and Charlotte’s relationship by closely reading a text, participating in a class discussion, and writing a well-organized paragraph to support an idea.

12

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 10

    RL.3.3

Describe what terrible thing happened in the chapter and how it had a positive impact on the characters and the plot.

13

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 11

    RL.3.3

Describe how each character responds to the miracle and why they respond that way.

14

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 12

    RL.3.3

Explain why the animals want to save Wilbur.

15

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 13

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain why the chapter is titled “Good Progress.”

16

Discussion & Writing

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 1-13

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.d

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.c

    SL.3.1.d

Describe Wilbur and Charlotte’s relationship by closely reading a text, participating in a class discussion, and writing a well-organized essay to support an idea.

17

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 14

    RL.3.3

Explain Fern’s mother’s perspective on Fern’s time in the barn and if Dr. Dorian has the same perspective.

18

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 15

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain the significance of the chapter title “The Crickets”.

19

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 16

    RL.3.3

Analyze how Wilbur has changed and predict what Wilbur will do next.

20

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 17-18

    RL.3.3

Explain how Charlotte is changing and if Wilbur truly understands the change.

21Essential Task

Discussion & Writing

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 1-18

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.d

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.c

    SL.3.1.d

Describe Wilbur and Charlotte’s relationship by closely reading a text, participating in a class discussion, and writing a well-organized paragraph to support an idea.

22

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 19

    RL.3.3

Explain how the fair has caused people to change and why.

23

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 20

    RL.3.3

Explain how everyone responds to the speech and why they respond that way.

24

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 21

    RL.3.3

Describe what happens to Charlotte at the fair ground and if she was lonely.

25Essential Task

  • Charlotte’s Web — Ch. 22

    RL.3.2

    RL.3.3

Explain how Wilbur continues to show his love and friendship for Charlotte even though she is no longer alive.

26

Discussion & Writing

  • Charlotte’s Web

    RL.3.2

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.d

    SL.3.1

Determine the central message or lesson of Charlotte's Web and explain how it is conveyed through the key details in the text.

27

2 days

Opinion Writing

  • Charlotte’s Web

    RL.3.3

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.d

Explain which character helped Wilbur the most using the best supporting details from the text.

28

Discussion

  • Charlotte’s Web

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.c

    SL.3.1.d

Analyze and debate unit essential questions by stating a claim and supporting the claim with evidence from the entire unit.

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Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.h — Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.3.2 — Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

  • RL.3.3 — Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

  • RL.3.4 — Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.c — Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.3.3 — Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

  • W.3.1.a — Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

  • W.3.1.b — Provide reasons that support the opinion.

  • W.3.1.d — Provide a concluding statement or section.

Spiral Standards

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L.3.1

L.3.2

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RL.3.1

RL.3.10

RL.3.4

RL.3.5

RL.3.6

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.b

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5