The Empress and The Silkworm – by Lily Toy Hong

The Empress and The Silkworm – by Lily Toy Hong      

Grades: 1-3

Subject: Language Arts, Science, Insects, Teamwork

Skills: Main Idea, Sequence of Events, Reading Comprehension,

Life Cycle of a Silk Worm

Grade Level Equivalent: 4.4

Summary: For 3000 years, the Chinese kept the origin of silk a secret. In “The Empress and the Silkworm”, Lily Toy Hong tells a wonderful story of silk and its discovery. This book is greatly enjoyed by primary students, even though it is above their reading level. The vocabulary list is pretty extensive while the story offers a great pre, during, and post reading discussion.

Vocabulary: enormous, emperor, palace, pillars, grove, glimpse, phoenix, wrinkling, shuddering, cocoon, uncoil, unravel,fiber, exhausted, shimmering, fabric, procession, miraculous, advisers, throne, approach, lustrous, splendid, weave, reels.

Symbols: dragon is strength and it represents the emperor, phoenix is a bird and it symbolizes good luck.

Pre-reading activities: Teacher will start a discussion on the role of Emperor and Empress. Where did Emperor and Empress live? What is silk? Teacher will show and let students touch a piece of silk material. Then teacher will ask students if they know where silk comes from and how it is made? What is a cocoon? Who makes a cocoon? Teacher will hand out the KWL chart to each student. While looking at the from cover, students will make predictions about the story and start filling out the KWL chart in the column of What I Know.

Reading activities / Reading comprehension questions: Teacher will read the story. How did empresses curiosity lead to discovery of silk? How did Si Ling-Chi and her servants go about getting silk out of cocoons? The silk thread is very delicate. How did the empress and her maids make the thread stronger? Who was this beautiful fabric the best suited for? How did the emperor and his advisors respond to the empress when she presented her discovery to them? Why did Chinese keep the source of silk secret for 3000 years?

Post-reading activities: Read the last page of the book. http://www.silk-road.com/artl/silkhistory.shtml

Homework assignment: Have students research and create a chart of life stages of Bombyx mori.

“To make 10 silk blouses, 8000 worms have to eat 350 pounds of mulberry leaves!” ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! LilyToyHong

–  Have students retell the story in their journals while including at least five words from the vocabulary list in the retelling (enormous, emperor, palace, pillars, grove, glimpse, phoenix, wrinkling, shuddering, cocoon, uncoil, unravel,fiber, exhausted, shimmering, fabric, procession, miraculous, advisers, throne, approach, lustrous, splendid, weave, reels).

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