October 29th, 1998
Maurice Sendak: Imagination and Art
Lesson Overview


Maurice Sendak has captured the imaginations of young readers for many years. This American Master’s series lesson for teachers contains activities for both elementary and middle school students. Early elementary students will read books written and/or illustrated by Maurice Sendak, learn what reading was like at Sendak’s elementary school, and write a class book based on one of Sendak’s stories. Middle school students will learn how Sendak not only wrote and illustrated children’s books and created works in the field of ballet, but also turned his book Where the Wild Things Are into an opera. They will also work in groups to produce an opera.

Grade Level

First section grades: K – 2

Second section grades: 6 – 8

Subject Areas

Language Arts; Music



Students will:

  • discuss the reading experience.

  • recognize the work of Maurice Sendak.
  • identify what they like about their favorite books.

  • write and illustrate a class book.


Students will:

  • gather information about Maurice Sendak.

  • create the lyrics, costumes, music, and stage set for an opera.



Language Arts Standards:

Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process

  • Creates mental images from pictures and print

Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of literary texts

  • Knows the main ideas or theme of a story
  • Relates stories to personal experiences (e.g., events, characters, conflicts, themes)



Composes and arranges music within specified guidelines

  • Composes short pieces within specified guidelines (e.g., ABA form, limited range, simple rhythms)

Language Arts:

Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing

  • Uses descriptive language that clarifies and enhances ideas (e.g., establishes tone and mood, uses figurative language, uses sensory images and comparisons, uses a thesaurus to choose effective wording)
  • Andrea Hiotis

    Thank you for this inspiration. My husband plays guitar very well for fun. We have fun singing. The books I’ve made up might be fun set to music. I never really thought that much about it, although of course one can sing a story to any tune.
    If you are ever in Port Richey, please stop by and visit us, Mr.Sendak, We will make you supper, and it will still be hot.
    Mrs. Andrea Hiotis


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