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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Project URL:

How it works:
This unit is a study on the life of Theodor Seuss Geisel and of the whimsical style of Dr. Seuss's writings and illustrations. Students compare and contrast stories, characters, and illustrations in various Dr. Seuss books and write a review of one of the books read. The reviews are shared with third grade students at the Rochester Elementary School, which is located outside of Topeka, Kansas. Students create their own illustrated rhyming stories modeled on the style of Dr. Seuss. While Theodor Geisel passed away in 1991, "Doctor Seuss" has attained a near-mythological status and he therefore lives on in the hearts and minds of his readers. In this spirit, students write letters to Dr. Seuss wishing him a happy Seuss Centennial in which they describe their original stories. 

Standards addressed:  
Students read and comprehend books by one author and in the same genre, read aloud fluently, produce a response to literature and a work in one genre that follows the conventions of the genre, respond to fiction and poetry using interpretive and critical processes, participate in group meetings, prepare and deliver oral presentations, and demonstrate a basic understanding of the rules of the English language in written and oral work. They analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness, use electronic media to gather information for research purposes, use word processing and drawing applications to write and illustrate original work, demonstrate comprehension of simple stories and a knowledge of story elements, and develop and present basic analyses of works of art.

Materials used:
Required materials include computers with Internet access, a printer, and word processing, drawing and painting applications.

The students:
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! is suitable for students in grades three through five. Since the work is done in cooperative groups, students with varying abilities in the areas of reading, writing, researching, and computer skills work well together.

Overall value:
Students read books to analyze and appreciate the writing and illustration styles of Dr. Seuss. They use the Internet to research the life of Theodor Geisel as well as his writing and illustration styles. Students develop writing, editing, and drawing skills as they synthesize the styles of Dr. Seuss into an original student story, and they reinforce oral presentation skills while presenting those stories to the class. Letter-writing skills are refined as students write letters to Dr. Seuss in which they describe their original stories and send one-hundredth birthday greetings.
It might be beneficial to have a whole-group lesson in which students write an original class story using the style of Dr. Seuss before students break up into groups to write an original group story.

Carolyn Hornik has been a New York City public school teacher for twenty five years (12 years as a classroom teacher in third, fourth, and fifth grades and 13 years as a technology coordinator.) She teaches in-service courses for the New York City Board of Education After School Professional Development Program and on-line courses for new teachers through Teachers Network.


Estimated Class Periods To Complete: 10 or more

Subject: English, Social Studies

Beginning Grade Level: 4

Ending Grade Level: 8



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