The faces of the third-grade boys light up and come to life when told they will learn about a boy their age who lives in the rain forest, or jungle, and whose best friends are a loyal brown bear and a wise black panther. Their attention span suddenly increases, and they begin to ask many questions as their imaginations sputter to life, trying to visualize the exciting, frightening world of the jungle.
The students for whom this unit is designed are a group of bright, funny, energetic third grade boys. They come from all corners of the city to attend our school, leaving impoverished neighborhoods, sparsely furnished homes, and often overwhelmed, well-intentioned parents or guardians. Some of these students have attended this school for a few years, but most transferred here from their neighborhood schools within the past year because of emotional and behavioral problems. Although they are only eight years old, they have had more failure than success in school. Because of their emotional and behavioral difficulties, these boys are at least one year below grade level in all subjects. They need a great deal of positive reinforcement, and a well-structured classroom environment with clearly defined expectations and enforced limits. With support and patience, they eventually begin to develop self-esteem, an increased comfort with and better attitude toward school, and improved academic skills.
This unit consists of a reading of Rudyard Kipling’s
The Jungle Book
, concentrating upon the adventures of Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves, and his friends Bagheera, the panther, and Baloo, the bear. In addition, the Walt Disney Pictures films based upon
The Jungle Book
will be compared and contrasted with a reading of the children’s novel. These lessons share the common goal of improving students’ comprehension skills, and igniting a spark of excitement in the minds of these boys regarding the adventures that are possible through the use of literature. and film will be an added bonus.