The ABC Model: When Lightning Comes in a Jar
by: Heather Volmerding

Use this VoiceThread to encourage students to predict what will happen in Patricia Polacco’s book When Lightning Comes in a Jar. This activity is also a great way to incorporate technology into the classroom.

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Activate prior knowledge by asking students questions related to When Lightning Comes in a Jar. What is a reunion? Have each student write their answer to this question on a post-it note. After each student has been given time to answer, allow them each to come to the front of the room, share what they wrote on the post-it, and stick it to the board so everyone can see them.

Ask more questions about students’ experiences with family reunions before reading the book. Have you ever attended a family reunion? What happened at the family reunion you attended? Who did you see? What did you do? Do you have a special tradition that takes place at your family reunions? Allow students to share their experiences.

Use this graphic organizer to guide the questioning: Reunion Brainstorm.doc

Building Knowledge:
As you read through the book, ask students questions about the story. Relate what you are reading to your Anticipation Activity. How is this family reunion different from the ones you have experienced? Again have students share their answers. Consider allowing them to talk about it in groups.
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Read through the first half of the book. After Gramma recites her poem, stop reading. Have students write their own ending to the story. Consider allowing students to type their “version” of the book and compile all the different endings created by the students. Read the ending of the book. Were any of the students’ endings similar to what really happened?

“Shadows lengthen, the day near done,
birds fly low at setting sun.
Stars will rise from earth below,
in these hands their light will glow.
Come up, lightning, come up, stars,
we'll snatch you up in these here jars!"

After reading When Lightning Comes in a Jar, have students work in groups to create a Personality Web for a character in the story. Students can reflect on what they learned about about the characters in the book and create a web of their different characterisitcs. Require students to explain why they pick each characteristic. Consider having students create these webs on poster board to be displayed in the room. After each group has finished, have them present their work. Allow students to ask questions about other groups' work.

Use this web as a guide: Personality Web.doc

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After reading When Lightning Comes in a Jar have a class discussion about the different traditions that they read about in the book. One tradition was the reunion that took place each year. It was also a tradition to go out and catch lightning in a jar. What are some traditions that the students have in their own family? Have the students draw a picture and write a brief story about a tradition that is important to them. Have the students present their work and discuss their traditions.