Missing May Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

'Missing May' is a Newbery Medal-winning book written by Cynthia Rylant. In this lesson plan, students explore how characters in the book change as a result of the events that occur in the story.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • discuss Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
  • identify main characters in Missing May
  • examine how main characters change over time
  • use textual evidence to support conclusions about character change
  • discuss the book with peers


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3

Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

Materials Needed

  • SmartBoard or projector to display the lesson
  • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (1 copy per student)


  • This book is a 980L level, or a level W in guided reading, so it is written on a middle school level.
  • Since this lesson focuses on the overall summary of the book, it should be implemented when students have finished reading or listening to the entire book.


  • Ask the students to remember the names of the main characters in the book. Write them on the board as the students name them. (Summer, Uncle Ob, Cletus Underwood, Aunt May).
  • Using a projector or SmartBoard, display the lesson Missing May: Summary & Characters. Together, read the first part of the lesson, stopping after 'Central Characters'.
  • Turn and Talk: Ask students to talk about which of the characters was their favorite and why.
  • Return to the lesson, reading the 'Summary' and 'Lesson Summary' sections with the students, again as a shared reading activity.
  • Turn and Talk: Ask the students to discuss one thing that happened in the book that was a surprise to them.
  • Display the Missing May: Summary & Characters Worksheet one question at a time. Ask students to answer each question, holding up 1 finger if the answer is 'A', two fingers for 'B', etc. This will allow you to quickly check for student understanding of the characters and story summary.

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