Meet the Town Mice
Email the Town Mice
About the Project
Our Work
Meet the Country Mice
Email the Country Mice
Town Mouse ~ Country Mouse
A Collaborative Classroom "Cousins" E-Project
Learn About Mouse Town
Town Mouse Book
Town Mouse Country Mouse Resources
Addressing the Standards
Learn About Mouse Country
Country Mouse Book


Mouse Town Temperature
Click for Arlington, Massachusetts Forecast
Mouse Country Temperature
Click for Berlin, Wisconsin Forecast


About the Project
Background of the Project
Debbie Coats and I have been "cyberbuddies" - Internet friends - for several years. We met through our websites and share a love of children, teaching, and technology. We both teach second grade, but in very different settings. Mrs. Coats teaches in a more rural setting in Wisconsin, while I teach in a very suburban one in Massachusetts. We often kid each other about our "city" and "country" lives. Through these online chats, the idea of a collaborative classroom project was born.

With many demands upon our time, the idea was put on the back burner until Susan Silverman came along with her Mouse Tales - a Collaborative Internet Project. This project provided the perfect catalyst for us to go forward with our original idea. Thanks for the inspiration, as always, Susan!

An important Social Studies concept for our students is the understanding of rural, suburban, and urban communities. The genre of fables, along with skills such as comparing and contrasting are important Literacy concepts. The Town Mouse Country Mouse Project seeks to address these concepts and others. Please join along with us in the fun!



Our Work
Learning About the Genre of Fables
We began our work by learning about what makes a story a fable.
We focused on the following elements of a fable:
  • Usually has animal characters with human qualities
  • Beginning: Gives the reader the setting and characters
  • Middle: Explains what the problem is and how characters attempt to solve it
  • End: Moral - lesson to be learned from story
City Mouse Country Mouse and Two More Mouse Tales from Aesop is part of our Scholastic Guided Reading program. In groups we read this easy book, searching for the elements of a fable in each story. We discussed that Aesop's Fables are the most famous and that many authors have written different versions of these, including Jan Brett. Jan Brett's amazing illustrations in her book Town Mouse Country Mouse bring a whole new dimension to this classic tale, plus she adds her own twist to the moral, along with a thought-provoking ending.

Comparing and Contrasting
After sharing Jan Brett's wonderful version, we used a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the Town Mouse and Country Mouse. Next we learned where our work would take us - our project!

Town Mouse Country Mouse Project
We discussed the meaning of rural, suburban, and urban communities. Which did the children think fit our community of Arlington? After we decided that Arlington IS a suburban community, I told them about our exciting project - that we would be the "Town Mice", while another second grade class in Berlin, Wisconsin would be the "Country Mice"!

Note: I used the following resource for this lesson - Types of Communities.
I would highly recommend it for teaching this concept!

Step 1 - Our first job was to find the answers to some questions about our own town.
We would use the answers to compare/contrast our town with that of our country cousins.
Mouse Town: Arlington, MA
Population: 43,000
Size: 5.5 square miles
Government: Town Manager and Board of Selectmen
Elementary Schools: 7
# Second Graders: 411
Founded: In 1635 as Menotomy
Name changed to Arlington in 1867
Mouse Country: Berlin, WI
Population: 5300
Size: 6.3 square miles
Government: Mayor and City Council
Elementary Schools: 2
# Second Graders: 117
Founded: In 1846

Integrating Math, Science and Geography
Step 2 - Tracking and Comparing Temperatures
Children were asked to begin to record and compare
Mouse Town and Mouse Country temperatures at home.
Learn more about our communities' temperatures and place on the map here.
Date
MT Temperature
MC Temperature
Difference
01/02/06
37° F
37° F
01/14/06
57° F
30° F
27°
01/21/06
45° F
18° F
27°
01/28/06
30° F
32° F
02/05/06
52° F
25° F
27°
02/11/06
28° F
29° F
02/12/06
19° F
24° F

Step 3 - Our next step was to draft a letter about ourselves, using the same questions that our country cousins would use. These were then typed in the Computer Lab using the Town Mouse Country Mouse E-Cards on Jan Brett's site and sent to Mrs. Coats' class. (BTW - We were THRILLED to receive our e-cards from our "Country Cousins" in Mrs. Coats' class!)

Step 4 - Writing Character Poems
To help our "Country Cousins" learn more about us, we created character poems.
You can view our poems here.

Step 5 - Learning more about Mouse Town
As we were working on the project at school, the children began to learn more about our own Mouse Town community, Arlington, MA, at home. At school, a list of Arlington "landmarks" was generated, and then, with a partner, research on these landmarks was assigned for homework. Children brought in interesting facts and these were typed in Kidspiration in our Computer Lab. The children's work was put together to create our very own online Town Mouse, Town Mouse book. To read our book and learn how we did this, please take a peek by clicking on the link! Note: We plan to import our images into Kidpix pages, add our voices, and create a Kidpix slideshow!
Our "country cousins" wrote their own book! Read Country Mouse, Country Mouse here.

Step 6 - Surprise Valentines
We wanted to surprise our Country Cousins with something special for Valentine's Day.

Here you see Pitter and Patter, along with our chief groundhog, Burrow. We thought Pitter looked like a Country Mouse and Patter looked more like a Town Mouse, so we decided to keep Pitter as a reminder of our country cousin friends, and sent along Patter to Berlin as a remembrance of us, their Town Mouse friends. To learn more about our valentine surprise click here.

Step 7 - Comparing Ourselves to Our "Country Cousins"
How were we alike? How we were different? Those were our questions as we reread our letters from our country cousins. Then we completed a Venn Diagram, comparing and contrasting ourselves to our Country Mice friends. This information would be used later in the Computer Lab with Kidspiration.
Eighteen Smart Mice
Adapted from Three Fine Mice by Susan Traugh
(Sung to Tune of "Three Blind Mice")

Eighteen smart mice, eighteen smart mice,
See how they learn, see how they learn.
They all sat down and did work so well.
They learned to read and they learned to spell.
Their math they finished before the bell,
Eighteen smart mice.

Eighteen nice mice, eighteen nice mice,
See how they share, see how they care.
A new mouse came to their school one day.
They asked her to come and join their play.
Then showed her where to put things away,
Eighteen nice mice.

Eighteen happy mice, eighteen happy mice,
See how they smile, see how they smile.
They joined Mouse Tales and read a Brett book.
At each other’s homes they did take a good look.
And from this great project, friendship they all took,
Eighteen happy mice.

As our project ended on Valentine's Day, we decided to have a Mouse Theme for our party.

Eva's mom made us delicious "mouse" cupcakes and Sam's mom brought in cheezits (after all, mice love cheese), and Giulia even hand-made adorable mice valentines for everyone!

P.S. Thanks to Myles' mom for the drinks, too!

Learn how this project aligned with the standards



Meet the Town Mice
Abigail
Andrea
Ashley
Ben
Charles
David
Erin
Eva
Giulia
Hunter
Javier
LuKuan
Matthew
Myles
Nicole
Sam
Stefan
Yuran


Town Mouse Country Mouse Resources
Town Mouse Country Mouse at Mrs. Coats' Corner
Our country cousins' page about the project!

Bookmarks for Town Mouse Country Mouse
From Jan Brett's site - in black and white and ready to print

Town Mouse Country Mouse E-Cards
Send a Jan Brett electronic postcard to a friend!

Town Mouse Country Mouse Cards
Create a card to print out and send!

Character Masks for Town Mouse Country Mouse
Printable masks of characters from story - in color

Alphabet Page for Town Mouse Country Mouse
Printable b/w page to color

Resources from Jan Brett's Site
Jan Brett's site is LOADED with great resources
for her own beautiful version of this fable.

Town Mouse Country Mouse Web Project
Great ideas for integrating this book throughout the curriculum.

Town Mouse Country Mouse
Online version for the children to read - with speech component

Town Mouse Country Mouse - Graded Reader Online Reading
Another online story to read - a good "eager" reader version of the story

Baldwin Project Version
Yet another online version
What's great about this one is you can customize the display!

International Versions

Venn Diagram for Book
Shows Country and Town Living

Types of Communities
Lessons on Rural, Suburban, and Urban with accompanying resources

Where Was the Mouse?
Using the Core Map, students learn about rural and urban communities
Rural/Urban Activity
Great pictures and chart
All of the above accompany this lesson

Rural/Urban Lessons
Based upon the Illinois quarter,
but has a very good Venn diagram that could be used for this project,
plus an interesting look at the rural/urban concept

Town Mouse Country Mouse Resources and Clipart
Limited, but does have a Readers' Theater of the story

Aesop's Fables
Brief background on Aesop and resources for several fables

Country Mouse Makes a Decision!
A very good (and age appropriate) lesson in Economics using this story
Also includes an online version of the story and interactive cost/benefit chart

Town Mouse Country Mouse
This series of lessons was written for preschool,
but can easily be adapted for other grades

A Version to Print Out
Pages 1-16 story, pages 17-23 reading questions and activities

The following are Kindergarten units on mice.
All have valuable resources on the topic,
and can be adapted to most grade levels

Mice Are Nice Unit at Kindergarten Treehouse
Mice Unit
Mice Theme at Step by Step Childcare

Mouse Tails Page/Webset
Great mouse graphics/clipart from Caleb's Corner

US!

To our classroom site Window to Our World

Counter



Addressing the Standards
Here are some specific cross-curricular skills addressed by this project, followed by those of the Massachusetts frameworks.
  • Learning about the fable genre
  • Comparing and contrasting using Venn diagrams
  • Letter writing
  • Poetry writing
  • Social Studies concept of rural, suburban, and urban
  • Learning about the landmarks in Arlington, MA
  • Introduction to latitude and longitude
  • Use of e-cards
  • Keyboarding
  • Working with KidPix and Kidspiration software
  • Data collection and computation
Addressing the Massachusetts State Frameworks
Language Strand
Standard 2: Questioning, Listening, and ContributingStudents will pose questions, listen to the ideas of others, and contribute their own information or ideas in group discussions or interviews in order to acquire new knowledge.
Standard 4: Vocabulary and Concept DevelopmentStudents will understand and acquire new vocabulary and use it correctly in reading and writing.

Reading and Literature Strand
Standard 8: Understanding a TextStudents will identify the basic facts and main ideas in a text and use them as the basis for interpretation.
Standard 9: Making ConnectionsStudents will deepen their understanding of a literary or non-literary work by relating it to its contemporary context or historical background.
Standard 10: GenreStudents will identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the characteristics of different genres.
Standard 15: Style and LanguageStudents will identify and analyze how an author’s words appeal to the senses, create imagery, suggest mood, and set tone, and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding.
Standard 18: Dramatic Reading and PerformanceStudents will plan and present dramatic readings, recitations, and performances that demonstrate appropriate consideration of audience and purpose.

Composition Strand
Standard 19: WritingStudents will write with a clear focus, coherent organization, and sufficient detail.
Standard 20: Consideration of Audience and PurposeStudents will write for different audiences and purposes.
Standard 21: RevisingStudents will demonstrate improvement in organization, content, paragraph development, level of detail, style, tone, and word choice (diction) in their compositions after revising them.
Standard 22: Standard English ConventionsStudents will use knowledge of standard English conventions in their writing, revising, and editing.
Standard 23: Organizing Ideas in WritingStudents will organize ideas in writing in a way that makes sense for their purpose.
Standard 24: ResearchStudents will gather information from a variety of sources, analyze and evaluate the quality of the information they obtain, and use it to answer their own questions.

Math - Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability - Grades 1–2 Learning Standards

Students engage in problem solving, communicating, reasoning, connecting, and representing as they:
2.D.1 Use interviews, surveys, and observations to gather data about themselves and their surroundings.

2.D.2 Organize, classify, represent, and interpret data using tallies, charts, tables, bar graphs, pictographs, and Venn diagrams; interpret the representations.

2.D.3 Formulate inferences (draw conclusions) and make educated guesses (conjectures) about a situation based on information gained from data.

Social Studies
2.9 Identify and describe well-known sites, events, or landmarks and explain why they are important. (H, G, C)