Trade Book: The Mitten

The Mitten by Jan Brett

The Mitten is a Ukrainian folktale retold by Jan Brett.

Summary from Brett’s Website:

When Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, he goes on without realizing that it is missing. One by one, woodland animals find the mitten and crawl in; first a curious mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last. Finally, a big brown bear is followed in by a tiny brown mouse, and what happens next makes a wonderfully funny climax.

As the story of the animals in the mitten unfolds, the reader can see Nicki in the borders of each page, walking through the woods unaware of what is going on.

How to use it classroom:

  • Identify and discuss folktale.
  • Locate the Ukraine on a world map and observe bordering countries. Infer about its climate based on its position from the equator and other geographic clues. Compare and contrast the Ukraine to your home country.
  • Perform a science experiment to test if mittens provide the heat to keep us warm or not. Students should conclude that it is not the mitten that makes them warm, but the body heat being trapped by the mitten that makes them warm. From this experiment, the students create a learning statement about the mitten. Then, they compare their statement with science term insulator.


8 thoughts on “Trade Book: The Mitten

    • My students tend to have a little trouble with “hard news”. They do not understand all the variables and intricacies of political conflict.

      On the other hand, yes- they can talk about what is happening in the Ukraine on a very general level. We did talk a little about it before our summer break especially since it happened so soon after the Winter Olympics in Russia. If school were in session, we would definitely talk about it more.

      They were really confused as to why it was happening and worried about what was happening to the people in the Ukraine. Some had seen some pretty bad stuff on the news. They can get the big, general picture but that is about all. And they did NOT like what was going on.

      • Yes they do. They still have a very strong sense of justice at that age so you can just imagine what their suggestions were on how to solve the conflict. We talked about Syria at the beginning of the year, and they were devastated/furious to learn what a government was doing to the citizens. We do current events in my class so we often talk about hard news. But most choose to do stories on animals, sports, entertainment, and cool gadgets.

        They especially loved learning about Malala Yousafzai: not just the girls but my boys too- I was kind of surprised how interested my boys were. They couldn’t believe that in 2014 there were still places in the world where girls put their lives in danger to learn. Their rants about these injustices make me know that they are going to be just fine in the future.

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I taught 6-8th grade the last three years, and they love to be read to as well. Thanks for sharing and spreading these ideas!

    • I started reading more short trade books in my science and social studies classes with great success. I convinced my friend who teaches high school chemistry to read excerpts/short books. She was surprised by well her students responded.

      Enjoying stories is a part of human nature.

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