Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Freedom River

Teacher’s Guide for
Freedom River
By Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated By Bryan Collier

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever been afraid? When?
  2. What were Sarah and Isaac afraid of?
  3. Do you think John Parker was afraid too? Then why did he help?
  4. What does it mean to be brave? Who was brave in this story?
  5. Collage is when an artist cuts and layers paper (and sometimes lots of other materials too like fabric, metal, wood or plaster) to create a piece of art that looks so real you want to touch it! Which one of Bryan Collier’s collages is your favorite? Why?
  6. A palette is the colors that an artist chooses to show the feelings of a picture. Choose two pictures to compare. Why do you think Bryan Collier used these colors for each part of the story?

As a class define and give examples of the following vocabulary words. Try to use each word in a sentence that helps a reader understand what it means. Example: Tanya tried to escape from her chores by hiding under the bed after dinner.

Underground Railroad


Art: Cut out white paper in the shape of an artist’s palette. Copy one of the vocabulary words in the middle. Use the primary colors plus white and black to mix and create at least seven new shades you think would go best with that word. Put dabs of the color around the outside ring of your palette and share your choices with a partner or friend.

Language Arts:
Write a letter to one of the characters in the story and tell them what you learned from them.

Social Studies:
Ask your grandparents, parents, teachers or neighbors to tell you a story about a brave act by someone they know. Write that story! Then, write your own story about a brave person you know.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can learning about the brave acts of people in history help us today? What did you learn from John Parker, Isaac, and Sarah?
  2. What did John Parker risk by helping slaves cross the river? What would you be willing to risk and for whom?
  3. Read the author and illustrator’s note. How does it help you understand the story?
  4. Read the historical note. Were you surprised by the amount of research it takes to write a picture book? Why is it so important to be historically accurate?
  5. Bryan Collier, the artist, chooses different colors for each of the illustrations. Look at two illustrations and compare them. Why do you think the illustrator chose these particular colors for this text?

Sometimes we don’t know all the words we read in a book but we can figure them out by how they are used in the story. As the teacher reads aloud Freedom River again, stop when you hear one of the following words. As a class make a guess to what the word means. Then, in pairs look up the words and compare the class meaning to the dictionary definition.



Research one of the following topics and write a brief paragraph summarizing what you learned:

* Abolitionists such as: Frederick Douglas, John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Purvis, Lydia Childs, William L. Garrison, Elizur Wright, Harriet Tubman, Ada C. Bowles
* Research other stops on the Underground Railroad at these sites:

Freedom’s Trail

Good overview

* Other stories of slaves escaping slavery
* Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854
* Fugitive Slave Law

Language Arts:

Write a newspaper article as if it was written during the time period that you researched. You can use direct quotes from famous abolitionists, common Americans, or even the President to show how people felt about the issues of the time. You could write a variety of types of articles that appear in a newspaper including a feature article, obituary, special report or interview.

Collage is when an artist cuts and layers paper (and sometimes lots of other materials too like fabric, metal, wood or plaster) to create a piece of art that looks so real you want to touch it! Create a river scene inspired by Bryan Collier’s collage. You can use any type of material that inspires you- ribbon, a variety of papers, fabric, leaves; pipe cleaners- use your imagination.