Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Mud Family

Teacher’s Guide for
The Mud Family by Betsy James
Illustrated by Paul Morin

Pre-reading Activity:

Look at the front cover and the first few pages (before the story begins) then answer or discuss the following questions:

  1. Where do you think this story will take place? What clues are given to you?
  2. Do you think this story is from today (that’s called contemporary) or is it from long ago? Why?
  3. Who do you think will be the main character in the story?

Discussion Guide:

  1. Why is rain so important? Is it still important to us today? Why?
  2. How is Sosi’s family and life like yours? What, if anything, is different?
  3. Why does Sosi make her mud family?
  4. Which is your favorite painting in the book? Why?
  5. What kinds of things does the mud father say to his daughter? Why do you think Sosi has him say these things?

Comprehension Check:

  1. Why is Sosi’s family preparing to leave?
  2. What does Sosi play when she is by herself?
  3. Who lives with Sosi?
  4. What happens to the mud family?
  5. In the end, what does the family do?   (answers will vary)


Language Arts:

Keep a journal as if you are Sosi for three days. Write down what is happening and also what she wishes for.


Collect and measure rainfall at your school or neighborhood for two weeks. Graph your daily findings. Research the typical rainfall for the month that you are collecting data and compare it to your own findings.


Look at examples of Anasazi art at these websites:

Slide show of rock art

Bureau of Land Management of Colorado

Pictographs and Petroglyphs

Define the following terms for students:
Symbol—a thing that represents something else
Petroglyphs—images carved or inscribed on a rock surface
Pictographs—ancient drawings or paintings on rock


Cut apart a brown grocery bag and crumple it up so it has the appearance of rock. Have students create and paint their own symbols about the three things most important to them. Or, have students make red or white handprints on the paper.

Social Studies:

Geography- Southwest Region of the United States
Have students locate the Southwest on a globe, a world map, and a map of the United States.  Then compare the geography of that region with their local one in the following areas- annual rainfall, feet above sea level, types of plant life, and population.

Older Students:
In small groups research find out about the Anasazi culture in the following areas:

Religious beliefs
Regions inhabited

Related Titles:

Tha Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde by Carolyn Arnold (Clarion Books)

101 Questions About Ancient Indians of the Southwest by David Grand Noble (Southwest Parks and Monuments)