Language Arts Activities

The activities provided on these pages are designed to extend the use of this site. These activities are provided as launch points for teachers to use with their classes, and for teachers to modify to suit the needs of their specific classes. Most of the activities are interdisciplinary and should provide lots of room for students (and teachers) to stamp their own identities on them.

The Virtual Museum is designed so that it can be navigated independently by 3rd and 4th graders who have at least some internet experience. Teacher supervision of any internet activity, even this Virtual museum, is always recommended. I hope you enjoy learning about Luther Burbank as much as I did!

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Language Arts

This section has activities about biography research projects, creative writing, and literature.

Social Studies/Biography

Famous Inventors

Luther Burbank was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 1986. During his lifetime, he also corresponded regularly with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, two other famous inventors. Using the Inventors Hall of Fame as a launching point, students can choose an inventor to learn about. Before choosing their subjects, it is a good idea for the class to brainstorm some common key questions that student research should be able to answer.

Questions to Consider When Doing Research

  • Where did this person grow up?
  • When was this person born?
  • Was this person inspired by some particular event or person when inventing?
  • What is this person known for inventing? (It may be a good idea to focus on only a few inventions, especially if Thomas Edison is the subject!)
  • Did this(these) invention(s) change the way people did things? How? Did the invention(s) affect our lives today? How?

Format

Written - There are a variety of written formats that would work for this project. A paper of 3-5 paragraphs is one option; a project board (sort of like a science fair project, with written info on its sections) Hall of Inventors display (think Open House!), etc.

Oral - There are many options here as well, but my favorite would be to come dressed as the inventor and present the information in character.

 

Creative Writing

Invent a Species!

Luther Burbank created over 800 species. He called himself a "plant breeder" because he consciously bred into a plant the characteristics that he desired. Discuss with the class the types of characteristics that Luther Burbank might have considered in his experiments (color, taste, growth rate, etc.). Emphasizing the 5 senses will really help when discussing plant characteristics. Pose this question to your students: "What type of plant would you create if you were a 'plant breeder' like Luther Burbank?"

The students may focus on useful characteristics or they may come up with...a plant that can grow pencils, a plant that can pull up its roots and move when it's tired of staying in one spot, a plant that produces pizza!

Since this is a creative writing assignment, students should have some freedom to explore the topic. They should tell in 3 paragraphs or more why they decided to create the plant, what the plant looks, feels, or tastes like, and why it is a good plant (How does it help? Who does it help?). Don't let them forget this new plant's name! To extend higher level students, have them use first person narrative as they answer the questions provided above, becoming the horticulturist who created this new amazing plant.

Students should create illustrations of their amazing new plants.

Literature

Here a Plant, There a Plant, Everywhere a Plant, Plant, by Robert Quackenbush.

This is a 3rd grade level biography about Luther Burbank. As a truly connected SCORE project, a Cyberguide (Internet teacher's literature guide) has been created for this book. This guide has several language arts activities that are connected with the book and with Luther Burbank. To access the guide, visit its Cyberguide address

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