The Children's Crusade: Culminating Activity: Short Story

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    Students write a short story told from the eyes of a child during the Civil Rights Movement.

    Video and Discussion

    Encourage students to express what they think life might have been like for children in 1963.  Urge them to describe their thoughts and feelings.

    The Children's March: Video and Discussion


    Video link:

    Discuss as a group how these individuals must have felt as children and the things they must have witnessed. 

    Optional Extension activity: Read the first-person accounts of people who lived during the Civil Rights Movement.

    Analyze First-Person Narrative Writing

    Refer to the poster and image links below under Classroom Resources. 

    Project poster and go over the tips. Then project one of the following stories:  Short Story List 

    Go through the first few paragraphs and, referring back to the poster, ask the students whether or not the author followed the tips. 

    Pair students and assign them 1-2 of the stories to analyze using the worksheet.  

    Analyzing Short Stories Worksheet

    Analyzing Stories Worksheet

    Play the first-person narrative game. 

    This is is a different take on the Story-Telling game where students take turns adding one sentence to the story. 


    1. Students and the teacher form a circle. The teacher starts the story using a story prompt. 
    2. Next, the person to the teacher's right adds to the story. 
    3. Continue going around the circle until everyone has had an opportunity to add to the story.  
    4. Continue in this vein until the story either comes to a natural end, or the time allotted for the activity has elapsed.


    1. If a student starts to bring the story to a close, or if the story is starting to wane, interject the word "Suddenly!"
    2. Have each student end with "and then..."  In this way, you can keep the story going.
    3. Encourage students to refer to the narrative-writing checklist as they tell the story.

    Story prompts: (Inform students that all the stories are set in 1963.)

    • I don't know why they called the day D-Day, but that was the day my friends and I jumped out of the school windows. Then...
    • The rule is:  Blacks have to sit at the back of the bus.  But today, my grandmother decided she was not going to follow the rules anymore. Instead....
    • Last night, I met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and...
    • This morning I woke up and ate breakfast and got dressed for school just like it was any other day.  But it wasn't any other day; because today I got arrested. It all started when...

    Short Story Writing

    Students write a short story told in the voice of a child living in 1963. They should write their stories from the perspective of a child (Black, White, Hispanic, etc.) of their own age who was present the day of the Children's Crusade.  They could be a participant, someone in the crowd watching, or anyone else who would be present that day.

    Story Planning Worksheets (adapted from Project Share lesson website)

    Use the following worksheets according to student skill level:

    • Group 1:  These worksheets allow students to draw out and label parts of the story.
    • Group 2: These worksheets guide the students through visualizing, describing, and then writing their story.
    • Group 3: Using these worksheets, students generalize their story parts in a few sentences before writing.
    • Additional planning:
    • Preplanning: Students answer a series of questions while planning their story.
    • Redrafting: Students work in pairs to critique each other's stories using the framework of this plan.


    Classroom Resource: Writing Tips Poster

    first person writing tips 

    Link to the full-size printable poster (25 x 36).  Link to compressed images for tiling the poster.