Mirette on the High Wire Lesson Plan

Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

'Mirette on the High Wire' teaches children about overcoming fear and having courage. Implement this lesson in a unit about central message, lesson, moral, and theme.

Learning Objective

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the central message of a story
  • Identify the lesson of a story
  • Write a narrative about a time they were afraid


90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.


Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.


Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.


Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.


  • central message
  • lesson
  • fear
  • bravery
  • determination
  • confidence


  • Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  • Paper
  • Writing Utensils

Reading and Discussion

  1. Ask students to think about the words fear and bravery and ask them what they know about the meanings of these words.
  2. Read the book Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  3. Pause at appropriate places in the story to discuss the following quotes:
  • ''She stepped onto the wire, and with the most intense pleasure, as she had always imagined it might be, she started to cross the sky.''
    • What does this tell us about Mirette?
  • ''Bellini hesitated a long time. 'Because I am afraid,' he said at last.''
    • What does this tell us about Bellini?
    • What does Bellini do at the end of the story?
    • What big idea do the actions of the characters show in the story?

Post Book Activity

  • When the reading and discussion part of the lesson is complete, explain to students that the big idea of a story is called the central message. Also, explain that the important details of a story come together to help the reader understand the central message. In the story, Bellini overcoming his fear and Mirette's bravery suggests that the author's message is about letting go of fears and being brave.
  • Explain that authors also teach lessons in a story that readers understand through important details and characters' actions.
  • Have students break up into pairs and talk about how Mirette's confidence (believing in herself) and determination (not giving up) helped Bellini overcome his fears.
  • Give students a few minutes to discuss then have them share.
  • Finish with explaining that this detail in the story helps the reader understand a lesson from the story: Students help teachers just as much as teachers help students.

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