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Luanne ANgelo  Once A Mouse

Once a Mouse

Author:  Marcia Brown
ISBN: 0689713436
Summary: A hermit knows the magic to change a small mouse into a cat, a dog, and a majestic tiger -- and Marcia Brown's magical woodcuts bring this Indian fable to life with the mastery that won her her second Caldecott Medal.

Unit Study Prepared by Luanne Angelo


Geography:  India
Locate India on the map and the Indus River.  Note that this was where the 1st civilizations in India started.  Note the dress of the hermit.  Find pictures of traditional Indian dress.  You may use this as a springboard to discuss other aspects of Indian culture.
India Shutterfold Minit Book by Wende
Label Map
Outline Map
Kid's Culture Center- India

Human Relationships: Hermit
A hermit is someone who lives all alone for some reason (in this case, a religious reason).  Would your student like to be a hermit?  Why or why not?  What might be some other reasons for being a hermit?

Character Study: Kindness
Teach your student the golden rule (do unto others...).  A good memory verse would be Ephesians 4:32. 

Character Study:  Pride
You may also want to discuss pride with your student.  Another good memory verse would be Proverbs 18:12.  How does this verse apply to the story?


Genre: Fable
There are three main characteristics of a fable
    *there's a lesson (or moral) to be learned
    *it involves animals, plants, or forces of nature (usually the main characters are animals)
    *it's usually short, direct, and full of action (not consumed with setting or details)
Discuss this fable and how it meets the criteria.  What lesson is learned?  Who are the main characters?  Is it short and direct?
You may also want to read some of Aesop's Fables with your student.

Writing: Write a Fable
Write your own fable using the three main characteristics (or less as appropriate for your student's writing ability).  First, have your student decide what he wants the moral of the story to be.  Next, have him decide how many characters he wants.  Who will teach the lesson?  Who will learn the lesson?   Try to keep it short and action-packed!



Caldecott Medal
A Caldecott Medal winner is a book chosen for its outstanding art work.  What is outstanding about the art work in this book?  You may want to hunt for other Caldecott winners at your library and discuss what is outstanding about the artwork in those books as well.  Click here for a list of Caldecott winners. 

Woodcut Illustrations
If your child is old enough, allow him to carve something to ink and stamp or do a potato carving (to use as a stamp).  If you are a rubber-stamper, allow your child to use your stamps to make a picture.  You might want to even illustrate your fable (from the writing lesson) with stamps. 


Counting and Tally Marks
Count the animals you see in the book.  Teach your child how to use tally marks to keep track of each animal.  Which animal has the most marks?

Bar Graphs
Make a bar graph and graph how many of each animal you see in the book (mice, tigers, cats, etc.)


Animal Study
The story mentions a mouse, crow, cat, dog, and a tiger.  Your student may want to learn more about one of these animals.  You could check books out from the library or assign your older student a research report.

tiger printable

mouse printable

dog printable

Food Chain
The crow tries to eat the mouse.  A cat also tries to eat the mouse.  What does a mouse eat? What might eat a crow? A cat?  What other food chains can you find in this story?  Make your own diagram based on the animals in this story (include other animals they may eat/may eat them). 

Food Web Information at Enchanted Learning


Physical Education/Drama
Walk like the various animals in the story.  Push your way through the forest.  Soar like a crow and dive down to get the mouse, etc.

Get some Indian folk music from the library.

Rice is a staple food in India.  Make a meal of rice and milk (like the hermit made for the mouse).  Vegetables are often served with the rice (almost like a stir-fry).