November 25th, 1998
Maurice Sendak: Imagination and Art
Procedures for Teachers



Grades K-2 Background Activities

If you haven’t done so already, incorporate various Maurice Sendak books into your reading time for several weeks prior to this lesson. When you add a new book ask students if they can guess who the author/illustrator may be based on the illustrations. (i.e. Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, Outside Over There, Swine Lake)

Visit the following sites to gather background information on Maurice Sendak:

Background One

  1. Initiate a class discussion about Maurice Sendak.

  2. Ask students to recall some of his books, and what they like about them.

  3. Share Sendak’s story about his elementary school reading experience with your students. This information can be found on the following site:

  4. Involve the class in a discussion about reading. The following is a list of questions to get you started:

  • What did you think of the way students were read to in Maurice Sendak school?

  • Do you think you would enjoy being read to the way they did at Maurice Sendak’s school?

  • How do you like to be read to? Ask students to share some examples.

  • What do you like most about being read to?

  • Who do you like to read to?

  • Do you think reading and being read to are important? Why?

Background Two

  1. Return to the Maurice Sendak site at the following location:

  2. Share what Sendak said about his favorite books.

  3. Ask students what they think makes a good book.

  4. (Teacher) share the name of your favorite book with the class. (Explain why it is your favorite.)

  5. Ask students to tell the class about their favorite books.

  6. You might want to extend this activity by asking students to bring in a favorite book from home, the school library or the classroom. Provide a time for students to share the book and discuss what they like about the book.


Grades K-2 Activity

Duration: Three – 40min. sessions

  1. Gather together all of your Sendak books. Ask students which one of Maurice Sendak’s books is their favorite. Explain why.

  2. Read one or two of their particular favorites.

  3. Tell the students that they are going to create a class book based on one of Sendak’s books. EXAMPLE: If you wanted to use Where the Wild Things Are you could do the following:

  4. Begin the class book with the opening text from Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

  5. Have the class brainstorm ideas for where Max could go when he gets off the boat. (I.e. outer space, Candy land, Oz.)

  6. After selecting the setting for the book, decide as a class what will happen to Max, and whom he will meet in this land.

  7. Write the agreed upon text on the board.

  8. After writing the plot of the story end the book the way Sendak does with Max coming home in time for dinner.

  9. Copy the text onto chart paper.

  10. Assign each student a page to illustrate. Remember to include a front and back cover, and a title page.

  11. Type the text and cut and paste the text onto each student’s corresponding page.

  12. Bind the book.

  13. Have a celebration party to commemorate the reading of their published book.


Grades 6-8 Background

Background One

  1. Ask students if they remember reading Maurice Sendak books when they were young.

  2. Share Sendak’s book Where the Wild Things Are with the class.

  3. Ask students what they like about the text and illustrations.

  4. Ask students who read it when they were young if their perceptions of the book have changed with age.

  5. Send students to the following two sites to learn what else Sendak has done besides write and illustrate children’s books (i.e. ballets and operas):

  6. PBS American Masters

  7. Students may learn more about Mozart and his operas on the following websites:

Background Two

  1. Obtain a copy of an opera from your local library or video store.

  2. Watch the video with your class.

  3. Discuss the video. The following is a list of possible questions:

  • What was the plot of the opera?

  • Describe your favorite costume.

  • Describe the scenery.

  • What was the music like?

  • How did the different elements of the opera work together as a whole?


Grades 6-8 Activity

Duration: Five – 50min. sessions

  1. Tell the class that they are going to produce an opera.

  2. Divide the class into groups, and have each group select an opera from one of the following sources:

contains the plots of famous operas.

  1. Each group will include the following jobs:

  • People who will write the lyrics.

  • People who will draw the sets.

  • People who will draw the costumes.

  • People who will create the music. (Original –if you have class musicians– or compiled from existing sources.)

  1. The number of students in your class will determine how many operas will be created. Each

  2. individual opera will employ the four groups listed above, working together, to create a single


  3. Remind students that they will have to collaborate within their groups to create a

  4. cohesive piece of work.

  5. Generate a class rubric to assess the operas. The following site contains information on the creation of rubrics:



Grades K-2

Students will be evaluated on their participation in the class discussions and the creation of the class book.

Grades 6-8

Students will be evaluated by the class generated opera rubric.



Grades K-2: Send students home with two books every week, one that the parent reads to the student, and one that the student reads to the parent or sibling.

Grades 6-8: Organize a class trip to attend an opera.


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