“Facing and Overcoming Challenges”

Haley Pendergraft

3rd Grade



“Facing and overcoming challenges,” is the driving theme of the literature unit that will be presented to my third grade students.  Looking, in depth, at many different challenges and the manner in which individuals face and overcome them, will contribute to the rich learning environment established by our previous work on the Storypath unit, the early people of the Northwest Coast.  This unit offers great depths in terms of importance and relevance to students’ learning.  The nature, or theme, of the lesson is one that can be identified with by all of the children.  Facing and overcoming challenges, is a universal experience that all humans encounter. 


Learning Targets

1.  Students will demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate their ideas, thoughts, and opinions through written, oral, and artistic expression.  Skill/Concept


2.  Students will understand what it takes to overcome and face challenges.  Concept/Generalization



·   Challenges are faced and overcome by many different types and kinds of people. 

·   Facing and overcoming challenges occurs under many different circumstances.

·   Courage, motivation, and hard work are among the many qualities it takes to face and overcome challenges. 


3.  Students will be able to identify characters who face and overcome challenges using evidence from the text and personal experiences.  Skill/Concept


4.  Students demonstrate the ability to participate as an effective group member.  Skill/Process


5.  Student demonstrates the ability to draw parallels between the theme of the unit and the experiences and events in the life of an early person of the Northwest Coast.   



6.  Student is able to predict how characters will overcome and face challenges in the text.  Concept/Skill


Thematic Book/Resource List

The following list of books and resources relate to the theme, “facing and overcoming



Picture book choices used in literature circles:

Bunting, Eve  (1991).  Fly Away Home.  New York, NY: Clarion Books.

This is the story about a boy and his father who live in an airport.  The story is told through the perspective of the child as he experiences life without a home.  The challenges and feelings of a homeless individual are expressed through text and illustrations.


Begaye, Lisa Shook  (1993).  Building a Bridge.  Flagstaff, AZ: Rising Moon.

This is a story about a young girl who attends school with Navajo children.  Experiencing the challenges of being a minority is told through the eyes of a white girl.      


Wiles, Deborah  (2001).  Freedom Summer.  New York, NY:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 

This book tells the story of two young friends.  The two boys, one white and the other black, deal with the challenges of racial issues that surround them. 


Bunting, Eve  (2001).  Jin Woo.  New York, NY:  Clarion Books.

This is a book that deals with issues at home.  David’s parents adopt a Korean baby and he experiences the challenges of a new sibling.


Chapter book used for read-aloud: 

DiCamillo, Kate (2000).  Because of Winn-Dixie.  Cambridge, MA:  Candlewick Press.

This is the story of a young girl’s first summer in a new town.  The reader experiences the difficult challenges in Opal’s life, as well as the many challenges of the characters she meets along the way.  


Additional “challenge” theme books available in the class library:

Johnson, Angela  (1992).  The Leaving Morning.  New York, NY:  Orchard Books. 

A young boy and his family prepare to move from their home and deal with the many challenges of saying goodbye and leaving a familiar place. 


Surat, Michele Maria  (1983).  Angel Child, Dragon Child.  New York, NY:  Scholastic Inc. 

This book is about a Vietnamese child who experiences the challenge of going to school in America. 


Extension Project

“Story Quilt”