"Cap o' Rushes" Lesson Plan
Elementary, Intermediate, Junior high
by Jean D. Rusting,
Author of The Multicultural Cinderella. Rusting Educational Services (4523 Elinora Ave., Oakland, CA, 94619)
Note to teacher: there are more activities below than you
will want to use. Review and highlight those most suited to your
- read and/or listen to the English folk tale, "Cap o' Rushes"
- perform "Cap o' Rushes" as a Readers Theater piece
- respond to writing prompts
- identify basic drama literary terms
- compare/contrast with another Cinderella variant
- create a graphic response to the story
- engage in student-centered, cooperative group work
A copy of "Cap o' Rushes" is available on the Internet
from the Tales of Wonder site.
The teacher needs paper to reproduce handouts: a copy of
the story for each student, newspaper/construction paper/brown
paper bags/scissors/tape for the group garment-making exercise,
and art materials for graphic response.
Review/define these words: drama, script, radio play,
narrator, choral reading, Greek chorus (spoken), dialog, fade
in, fade out, announcer, artistic license, stage, live action
- The third daughter is forced to leave her home and she takes
with her three beautiful dresses. If something happened which
forced you to leave your home (a serious personality conflict
or a natural disaster) what would you take with you and why?
- What is the difference between making a mistake and doing
- Cap o' Rushes' father acts in a completely irrational way.
What should you do if you are confronted with an irrational person?
Read and listen/perform and present strategies
"Cap o' Rushes" is just a little over two pages long
and consists mainly of dialog. Students read the story out loud
in small read-around groups to get a sense of the action.
Students work in small groups to decide how many speaking parts
there are to be. Although there are nine parts, some people speak
together, and students may decide to have several narrators speaking
at different times, or several narrators acting like a Greek chorus.
Group are free to use artistic license in presenting and interpreting
the story for the class.
- First daughter
- Second daughter
- Third daughter
- Servant woman
- Chorus of servants
- The master's son
- The cook
Post-writing prompt: In this version of Cap o' Rushes the
father admits he was wrong and the daughter forgives him. What
do you think about this ending? What other ways might this story
Spelling list exercise: Students work in small groups to
develop a list of 10 or 15 words which group members believe everyone
should be able to spell. In whole class students combine their
lists and then play spelling games or take written test.
Compare/contrast exercise: If students have recently read
another Cinderella version they discuss common elements, similarities
Graphic response exercise:
Make a comic book of "Cap o' Rushes" using one, two
or three sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" paper.
Illustrate the story by drawing the action and showing conversation
in each box. The first box (top left corner box) is the title
box. Put the title of the story and the name of the student author/illustrator
in the first box.
- Fold the paper in half the long way. The folded paper is 4
1/4" by 11".
- Open paper out flat and fold it in half the short way. The
folded paper is 8 1/2" by 5 1/2".
- Open the paper out flat and fold the 8 1/2" right edge
into the center fold.
- Open the paper out flat and make the same fold from the 8
1/2" left edge.
- Now, open the paper out flat and look at it. Your 8 1/2"
by 11" paper has 8 boxes.
Before you actually begin to draw your comic book look at the
text of the story and write out the captions for the remaining
The above list is only a suggestion. Square One could show all
three daughters talking at once, responding to the father's question.
- Square One: Title of the story and the student's name
- Square Two: Father and first daughter talking
- Square Three: Father and second daughter talking
- Square Four: Father and third daughter talking.
- Square Five: Father kicks the third daughter out
- Square Six: Third daughter comes to swamp and hides her dresses.
- Square Seven: Third daughter makes herself a dress of rushes.
- Square Eight: Cap o' Rushes looks for work.
Review the story and figure out how many dialog boxes or scenes
you will want. You may find you need at least two pages and possible
3 pages to create your own unique "Cap o' Rushes" comic
Teams of students create a woven or plaited cape from materials
at hand: construction paper, newspaper, brown bags. Assign someone
in the group to be the historian, the person who records that
actions of the others. The historian does not participate in making
the cape, but simply records who said what and who did what. The
challenge for the teams: make such a cape-like garment which covers
the whole body of one of the members of the group. How will your
team go about making one. How long does it take to create a wearable
cape? The historian for each group reports on the group efforts.
Whole class judges the best garment. Students listen to the report
from each group and then discuss what they learned from this activity.
Post-reading discussion--a new name for Cap o' Rushes: In
small groups students discuss an appropriate name and give a reason
for that name. Students then share their discussions with the
Library and Research
The story of "Cap o' Rushes" is found in several picture
books and in various collections. As an extra-credit homework
assignment, students browse their local library shelves for these
titles. Hint: look in anthologies.
Extra-credit assignment: Researchers say that King Lear
comes from a Cap o' Rushes story. What can you find out about
the story of King Lear?
- Lurie, Alison (retold by). Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten
Folktales. Illustrated by Margot Tomes, 1980. (page 84-91)
- William-Ellis, Amabel. Tales from the Enchanted World.
Illustrated by Moira Kemp. 1986. (page 8-16)
- Hooks, William. Moss Gown. 1987.
Extra-credit assignment: What do you know about the art
of weaving? Macramé? Crocheting? Knitting?
Copyright © 1995 by Jean Rusting (firstname.lastname@example.org). All rights reserved.
Converted to HTML (with permission) July 26, 1995 by David K Brown (email@example.com)