Lesson Plan

Grade 3-5: Pre-visit - Sandburg Through Time, Growing Up

Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fifth Grade
Family Life, History, Language Arts, Literature, Reading, Social Studies, Writing
45-60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Reading Standards:
Writing Standards:
Speaking and Listening Standards:


This lesson can be used to plan for a visit to the Sandburg Home or as a stand-alone lesson in the classroom.  Students will explore one of Sandburg's literary genres: autobiography through Carl Sandburg's autobiography for children, Prairie Town Boy.


Learning Targets:

  • I can compare and contrast connections between myself and Carl Sandburg.
  • I can select important events to include in an autobiography.
  • I can create a timeline of important events.
  • I can describe the difference between a biography and an autobiography

Common Core State Standards
Reading Standards for Informational Text:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.3 Explain events, ideas and concepts in a historical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text or idea.

Writing Standards:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.8 Recall relevant information from experiences, take notes and categorize information.

Speaking and Listening Standards:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.5 Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.


Check out the other lessons in this plan:

Pre-Visit Lesson: Connemara Farm
Pre-VIsit Lesson: Poets and Poetry
Pre-Visit Lesson: Sandburg Through Time - Growing Up

On-Site Lesson: Sandburg Through Time - From Prairie Town Boy to Famous Writer
On-Site Lesson: Sandburg's Writing "Spring Grass"

Post-Visit Lesson: Sandburg Through Time - Autobiographical Poem
Post-Visit Lesson: Sandburg and Lincoln
Post-Visit Lesson: Why Goat's Milk?




Prior to lesson print a set of excerpts from "Prairie Town Boy" found on the third page for each small group of students. Can be copied on cardstock and laminated. Sort students into small groups. 

Activating Strategy
Carousel Brainstorming - Divide students into four equal groups with each group member having a different colored marker. Students will rotate to four different locations that have a piece of chart paper labeled with a topic. Students are to write a one word response to the topic on the chart paper. Give students a short amount of time at each rotation to respond and have the entire groups rotate at the same time. *Prior to this activity you will need to prepare four pieces of chart paper with each paper labeled with only one of the following topics: Carl Sandburg, timeline, biography and autobiography. After rotations are completed, teacher will review responses to the topics whole class.

Teaching Strategy
1.   Give each small group of students a set of excerpt cards mixed up, one piece of string or yarn and nine clothespins. Teacher will review the importance of a timeline and how it is created. Students will need to work together to read the passages, sort cards into chronological order and attach cards to yarn to create a timeline of Carl Sandburg. As students are working in groups, teacher will encourage students to make connections between Carl Sandburg and themselves.

2.   When the groups have created the timelines, the teacher will pull up the timeline on the whiteboard for the students to check. Discuss the similarities students found between Carl Sandburg and themselves.

3.   Teacher will share with students that the information displayed on the cards regarding Carl Sandburg and the fact that it came from his autobiography about his childhood, Prairie Town Boy. Begin class discussion on biography, autobiography and Carl Sandburg. Reinforce the difference between biography and autobiography.

4.   Each student will create a timeline of his/her life on notebook paper focusing on only the important events.

5.   Students will share their timeline with a partner.

Summarizing Strategy
The Most Important Thing -  Have students complete the following sentence…
Three important ideas/things form the lesson today are ___________________, ___________________, and ___________________, but the most important thing I learned today is ___________________.


  • Students will create an Animoto (www.animoto.com) or Photostory of their timeline adding photographs or illustrations.
  • Students will use their timelines to write an autobiography of their life.