The Political Dr. Seuss (themes in Dr. Seuss's writing)

This lesson plan teaches themes and symbolism using Dr. Seuss's books. This lesson plan can be used to teach symbolism or theme. Dr. Seuss's books convey messages relevant to world history and social issues; students explore the themes Dr. Seuss addresses in his children's books. Students need a basic knowledge of world history (WWII, 1960s, the Holocaust). The lesson can be broken up and extended for each book, if needed, or taught in specific themed units. This lesson may also be useful in a social studies course.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3002.8.4
Analyze works of literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
CLE 3002.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning from various literary genres.
CLE 3003.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres and understand how they articulate the writers vision.
CLE 3003.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning and comprehension from various literary genres.
CLE 3005.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres and understand how they articulate the writers vision.
CLE 3005.8.5
Know and use appropriate literary terms to derive meaning and comprehension from various literary genres.
GLE 0401.6.2
Recognize the different text features of informational texts (e.g., separate text boxes, diagrams, captions, charts, graphs).
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

Lesson objectives:

Students will:

  • Discuss the main ideas and lessons of a work of literature, short story, or poem they've recently read.
  • Discuss themes from children's books they've read in the past.
  • Watch excerpts from THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS and take notes on the main ideas of several Dr. Seuss books.
  • Add their own words to a list of words and phrases that describe themes in the Dr. Seuss books.
  • Explore three Dr. Seuss books featured on THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS Web site, and choose words from their list to describe the themes in these books.
  • Discuss the themes they've explored in the Dr. Seuss books.
  • Create posters to illustrate one theme Dr. Seuss addresses in his books.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 

Extension ideas:

  • Have students read a Dr. Seuss book of their choice and determine whether it has any of the themes they've discussed in this lesson. If so, ask them to list these themes and write a paragraph explaining the book's message with regard to the themes. If not, ask them to list the themes they believe the book does express and to write a paragraph explaining how those themes are presented in the book.
  • The following may be done before or after students complete the assessment activity:
  • Read a Dr. Seuss book to the class. It would be preferable to read one of the books  discussed in the video, such as The Lorax. Allow students to look at the pictures, and ask them to think about the messages and main points of the story.
  • Discuss the main ideas and themes in the book. Also discuss the techniques Dr. Seuss uses to convey these messages and themes. Some examples of techniques include using simple words and word structure, specific words or phrases that rhyme or repeat, drawings, and characters' actions. How do his techniques help get his points across?

Helpful Hints

Materials needed:

  • Computers with Internet access
  • TV and VCR
  • THE POLITICAL DR. SEUSS video
  • A handout with the following words and phrases listed: corruption, power, human rights, racism, tolerance, environmental stewardship, greed, pollution, war, antiSemitism, Hitler, Holocaust, Cold War

References

Contributors: