Ring the Silver Bell Classroom Activities


Ring the Silver Bell

This is the courageous true story of Kentucky native Alice Slone and her dream of getting an education. Slone's journey carries her from her childhood home on Caney Creek to the busy streets of Cleveland, Ohio, before calling her back to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky to teach others. Believing that "great works can be done by the people of the mountains," Slone sets out to expand her dream. She is tireless and creative in her efforts to build a school on Lotts Creek during the Great Depression, opening up to future generations of mountain children the advantage of higher learning. RING THE SILVER BELL establishes Alice Slone as a true Kentucky hero and a role model for Americans everywhere.

Classroom Activities

Before reading the book, Ring the Silver Bell, discuss the following open-ended questions:

1. What is a biography?

2. What is a hero? Chart responses.

3. Are all heroes famous? Why or why not?

4. Alice Slone dreamed of things she wanted to do in life. What are your goals or dreams?

After reading the book, ask the following questions:

1.     Why is Alice Slone remembered in the region where she lived?

2.     What was Alice’s greatest achievement?

3.  How did Alice’s work help her community?

4.  What lasting effects did Alice’s work have on the lives of others?

5.  What was the most impressive thing about Alice?

6.  Can you think of people alive today who make major changes in the community in which they live? Explain your answers. Chart responses.

7.  Education was not Alice’s first choice for a career. At the end of her life, do you think Alice was happy with her career choice? Why or why not?

8. Why do you think the title of this book is Ring the Silver Bell? How does the bell connect the beginning of the story with the ending? 

Review the term “biography.” The story of a person’s life is fascinating and brings history alive. Ask students what information they would expect to find out about a person’s life in a biography.

Chart student responses.

Discuss and chart how information in a biography is categorized, such as childhood events, turning points, achievements,

Read the first chapter of Ring the Silver Bell.
Refer to the list on the chart. Ask students if any of their responses were covered in the first chapter. Add to the list if students contribute more ideas.

Refer to the chart of responses and conduct a whole group discussion following the reading of each chapter, whether the book is read orally to class or individually by students.

Writing a biography

Students will brainstorm a list of famous people in history. Each student will read about one famous person on the list and write a short biography or article about the person. Students may want to dress up as the famous people and read their biographies. Begin with a chart:

What I Know

What I Want to Know

What I Learned

Follow with ideas of what a biography is NOT: A list of borrrrrrrrrring facts. A biography is a STORY that brings a person to life. Make the biography interesting by choosing interesting facts and write about those facts. Make the readers care about the person.

Biography poems

Each student will write a poem about his/her life. 

Friendly, nice, and kind,
Who enjoys playing basketball but seldom makes a three-pointer,
Who loves reading books about sports,
And listening to music, especially hip-hop,
Who helps care for younger brother and sister,
Watches cartoons,
And makes bracelets,
Who would like to be a vet when I grow up
Because I love animals, especially dogs,
And who wants to live on the beach, maybe in California.

Each student will write a biography poem about a period in Alice Slone’s life.

Writing letters
Alice Slone wrote letters to friends and family her entire life. Write letters to a pen pal. The first letter needs to provide information about you. Explain a few things about yourself. In later letters, you can tell more. Write about yourself,
explaining your age, grade, and what you like to do in your spare time, such as play soccer. Tell about your family and school. Later describe your community and your state or country.

1.     Add vivid descriptions so the reader will form a mental picture of what you write. Use your senses to describe in detail. Explain how something looks, feels, smells, sounds, or tastes so the reader will have a better understanding.

2.     Ask 3-4 questions about the life of your pen pal. You can ask more questions in each letter. Your pen pal will ask questions about you, too.

Alice visited the home of Susan B. Anthony, a leader in the campaign to get women the right to vote. In 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Write a letter explaining why you think women should have the right to vote. Write the letter as though you lived in 1920.

Ask students to imagine that their school is considering creating a holiday to recognize a famous person. Each student will select a famous person and write a letter explaining why the person he/she chose should be honored. Include celebration activities that focus on the work of the famous person. 

Writing Essays
Alice was a dreamer and she followed her dream. Everyone dreams of the future. Students will write short essays on their hopes for the future. Include detailed plans on how they plan to accomplish one dream and how the dream will be remember by future generations.

Biographical timeline.
The class will create a biographical timeline depicting the life of Alice Slone. After reading the book, each student will be assigned one chapter. Students may have to share a chapter. If so, one student gets the first half and the second student gets the second half of the chapter. Each student will reread the chapter and write one or two sentences describing that part of Alice’s life on a strip of paper. When the strips are complete, students will assemble the timeline. Beginning with chapter one, students will read the information aloud to the class.

Point of view
Alice was unhappy when the Bacon girls refused to associate with her. She desperately wanted their acceptance. Retell that part of the story from the point of view of one of the Bacon girls. Explain how you think the girls felt about Alice living in their home, associating with them at school, and in other public places. Alice wore a different style of clothing and her accent was different. How did being different affect the way Alice was accepted by the young girls?

Compare and Contrast
Alice was exposed to my opposites in her life. Compare and contrast

Alice’s Kentucky and Ohio families
Life in Kentucky as a child and as an adult·      
Expectations of herself and expectations of others      
Schools she attended and the school she developed

Kentucky, Then and Now
Alice was a young girl a hundred years ago. How hasKentucky changed since then: Explain, using one or more of the following:  Transportation    
Food supply
Style of clothing      
Games and play      
Books and reading materials      
Jobs or careers

How Are You Feeling?
Ring the Silver Bell deals with emotions.  Brainstorm with students the idea of what a friend is.
Why are friends important?Do we really need friends?  Why or why not?
What do you like to do with your friends?
Have you ever been angry with a friend? Explain.
Is it normal to sometimes get upset with someone we like? Explain.
What are some different kinds of feelings you might have if you spend a lot of time with a friend?

Hand each student a two-column chart.  In the left column ask students to list different kinds of feelings they have.  Discuss the meaning of synonyms.  In the right column, students will write synonyms for the word listed in the left column.  Demonstrate the use of a thesaurus and dictionary and allow students to use them to look up synonyms.  Feelings Synonyms

Oh, What a Feeling!
Fold a blank sheet of paper in half, and fold in half again.  Open the paper.  The folds mark four equal squares.  Students will paste photos or drawings of themselves in each square.  Each of the four pictures will show a different feeling.  Choose one of the feelings and write a story or paragraph describing what caused them to feel that way and how they acted when they felt that way.  What problems did their behaviors cause?  What did they learn from behaving the way they did?  How would they handle the situation differently if they could relive it?

Poster chart. 
As a group, make a poster of ways to handle feelings. 
Things to do before reacting: take a deep breath, count to ten, or talk with a someone.

Mother’s Day Flowers
Marigold seeds
Plastic cups
Potting Soil

Students love to grow plants from seeds.  Different kinds of seeds can be used, but marigolds are a good choice since they are easy to grow and bloom quickly. Place potting soil in the bottom of a plastic cup.  Plant the seeds, water, and place in a sunny window.  Each student can take one cup home for a Mother’s Day present. 

Journal Writing
Each day, students will write their thoughts, expectations, and observations of the planting and growing of the flowers.  

Acrostic poem
Write an acrostic poem and attach to each flower cup. Each child will write a word, phrase, or sentence beginning with each of the following letters to wish Mom a Happy Mother’s Day.

Planting ideas for a story
Discuss how the world would be without plants. Could people survive? Plants provide oxygen and food. What other benefits do plants provide? Chart the answers. What is the most common response? The most unusual? Plants also create problems. Some plants make people sneeze. Some are weeds. Write a story about a world without plants.

Discuss how the world would be without animals. Could people survive? Animals provide friendship, food, and many other products. Write a fantasy story about a world without animals.

Make potato head animals
spoon for scooping
one potato for each student
potting soil
grass seed

Give one potato to each student.  Scoop out 1/3 of the potato.  Fill the scooped-out part with potting soil. Sprinkle grass seed over the soil. Sprinkle with water.  Set in a sunny window and watch the potato grow “hair.” (Potatoes can be decorated with markers or other items to create faces).

Journal Writing
Students keep a daily journal to describe the growth of “hair.” Student may name their potato head animals and write about their habitats, species, diets, developments, etc.

Nature Walk
Alice Slone enjoyed leading students around the mountainside as they looked at plants. On a nature walk, notice the plants. Look carefully at what you see.
Record observations
Pay attention to detail
Write questions
Describe and illustrate favorite plant after taking a nature walk. Explain why a certain plant is the favorite.

Write riddles about plants. Students will read riddles and classmates can guess the answers.
Example: Who am I?
I am yellow,
I bloom in springtime.
You show me each time you smile. [Tulips]

Magic seed.
Give each student an object: button, candy, rock, etc. Explain that the item is a strange type of seed.  What kind of plant will grow from the seed? Illustrate the plant and name it. Describe the plant. How is the strange plant different from other plants?  How is it similar?  How will the plant help you? How could it harm you? How could the strange plant change your life? Encourage students to let their imaginations soar.

Killer Plants
Did you know that some plants eat animals?  The plant, Venus’s-fly trap, has leaves that close when an insect lands on them. After the insect has been eaten, the leaves open again to catch another snack. YUM!  Pretend you are a Venus Flytrap. Write about your favorite insect meal.  What is the best tasting insect dinner?  Do you prefer a different insect for breakfast? What’s for lunch?  Allow student to read, tell, or act out their stories.

Pretend you are from the far-away universe of Plantandgrow. Your spaceship has just landed. You find a strange object. You send a message back to Plantandgrow describing the object. (Use pieces of candy for the seeds so students can see, smell, taste, touch, and listen to the wrapper being removed).
Write about
1) how it looks,
2) how it feels,
3) how it sounds,
4) how it smells,
5) how it tastes.

What if…Story
What if a flower monster came to your cafeteria at lunch…

Pyramid Poem
Write a pyramid poem about a plant. Write the words so the poem is shaped like a pyramid. Begin with one word on the first line, two words on the second line, etc.