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Katie's Trunk

PDF Version With Materials

Grade Level: 5

Character Education Focus: Integrity and Fairness 


Students will identify the traits of integrity and fairness in the characters John Warren and Katie, and understand how different people can experience the same event but interpret it differently depending on who they are and why they are in the situation. Students will practice considering others' points of view.

(Two or three 45-60 minute sessions)

Materials Needed

  1. Turner, A. (2003). Katie’s trunkIn J. Cooper & J. Pikulski, Houghton Mifflin Reading: A Legacy of Literacy Grade 5 (pp. 293-303). Boston , MS : Houghton Mifflin.

  2. Notebook paper

Academic Character Education Objectives

Students will:

  1. Identify the character traits of integrity and fairness in the character John Warren, a patriot, and the main character Katie, a Tory.
  2. Understand that different characters may respond to the same situation in different ways and that their responses reflect who they are and why they are in a situation.
  3. Identify the importance of showing fairness to others by considering other points of view and give examples and non-examples of fairness.
  4. Write Choose a character from whose point of view they will write about the raid on Katie’s house. 

California English-Language Arts Standards Addressed


2.0 Reading Comprehension

  • 2.3  Discern main ideas and concepts presented in texts, identifying and assessing evidence that supports those ideas.
  • 2.4 Draw inferences, conclusions, or generalizations about text and support them with textual evidence and prior knowledge.

3.0 Literary Response and Analysis

  • 3.3 Contrast the actions, motives (e.g., loyalty, selfishness, conscientiousness,) and appearances of characters in a work of fiction and discuss the importance of the contrasts to the plot or theme.


2.0 Writing Applications

  • 2.2 Write responses to literature:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of a literary work.
  2. Support judgments through references to the text and to prior knowledge.
  3. Develop interpretations that exhibit careful reading and understanding.

Listening and Speaking

1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies

  • 1.4 Select a focus, organizational structure, and point of view for an oral presentation.
  • 1.5 Clarify and support spoken ideas with evidence and examples.

2.0 Speaking Applications

  • 2.3  Deliver oral responses to literature:
  1. Summarize significant events and details.
  2. Articulate an understanding of several ideas or images communicated by the literary work.
  3. Use examples or textual evidence from the work to support conclusions.

Reprinted, by permission, California Department of Education

Lesson Procedures

  1.  The teacher describes the purpose of the lesson, which is to use the story to identify the character trait of integrity (having the courage to do what is right, even when it is hard) and fairness (treating others equally and being open to all points of view).
  2. The teacher explains that "Katie’s Trunk" is a story about John Warren, a patriot, and the main character Katie, a Tory. To help students understand the setting and plot of the story, the teacher can provide background information as needed about the American Revolution. Include the perspective of Patriots or Rebels (colonists supporting America and against English rule) and Loyalists or Tories (colonists loyal to England and supporters of England ). For more information, see the Extensions and Reference section at the end of this lesson.
  3.  Before the story is read, have students predict what examples of integrity and fairness they may find considering the story is about the American Revolution. The teacher reads a portion of the story aloud, but asks the students to finish reading independently.
  4. With a partner or in triads, students talk about possible reasons why Katie and John Warren acted in the ways they did. To guide their responses, the following questions can be used:
  • Recall the incident where Katie runs back to the house to protect it. Discuss some reasons for her to make this choice.
  • How they would feel if you were hiding in the trunk?
  • Evaluate John Warren’s actions and discuss his reasons for leaving Katie in the trunk.
  • How do his actions demonstrate integrity and fairness?
  • Why do you think John Warren distracted the other Patriots?
  1. The teacher presents information defining “point of view” giving examples from the reading. Include the following points:
  • Each of us sees events in our own way.
  • A writer can present a story from first-person point of view and the narrator uses “I.”
  • A writer can use the third-person point of view when the story is told from outside the action of story. The narrator refers to the characters by name and uses “he, she, or they."
  1. Each character in the reading has a story to tell. Ask students to brainstorm a list of other characters in the story.

Who are all of the people, things, and creatures that might have been at Katie’s house? What were different people doing?

  1. Students choose from the list or draw character names from a container and then write a story about that character’s experience at Katie’s house from the point of view of the character chosen. To explore the characters point of view and develop their story, students can use the following questions to guide their thinking:
  • Who or what are you? What might it be like to be a mouse on the floor?
  • Why are you at Katie’s house?
  • How do you feel? What do you see, hear, taste, or smell?
  • What are you wearing?
  • What are you doing? Are your actions examples or non-examples of integrity and fairness?
  • What are you thinking? What was the trunk thinking?
  1. In small groups or as a whole class, students tell their character’s story from the point of view of the person or object they chose.  Listeners can be asked to focus on how each character may view the same event from their own perspective yet have a different experience. Ask students to listen for examples of the character’s integrity and fairness in the students’ stories.  Debrief with the class.

Academic – Character Education Assessment

Teacher can informally assess the students’ responses during partner or triad work and in class discussion, noting students’ ability to summarize significant events from the story, demonstrate an understanding of point of view, and use specific examples from the story to support their ideas during class discussions.

Teacher can formally assess student’s writing ability to tell the reader who the character is, what the character is doing, how the character feels, etc. Does the character do things that seem right for that character? Does the writer use lots of details and descriptive words? Are the details accurate of the historical period?

Teacher can assess students’ understanding of fairness and integrity through discussion of the definition and examples they provide in their writing. 

Reflective Journaling Prompts

  • Have you ever experienced something in a group and found that each person saw the situation from a different point of view? Explain what happened.
  • With which characters from "Katie's Trunk" do you identify most closely? Why?
  • Can you think of a time when you showed integrity and did the right thing even when it was hard? Explain.

Extensions and Variations

For more information about the American Revolution, see Ann Turner’s books, What Did I Know of Freedom?  Love Thy Neighbor: The Dairy of Prudence Emerson, and A Tory Girl. Go to:

Here’s a lesson on point of view using the story of the Three Little Pigs. See lesson #414, Point of View at

Teacher Notes or References

The primary cause of the Revolution was British interference with colonial trade while the colonists wanted to control their own affairs. They particularly resented being taxed by the British Parliament without direct representation, and when Great Britain imposed the Stamp Act and other similar measures, the colonists revolted.  The British and hostile indigenous tribes were serious threats. Many of the older citizens, furthermore, were attached to Great Britain and were not likely to make trouble.   Many of the non-British immigrants were grateful for the chances given them in the new world, and not inclined to participate in trouble.  In general, as in the 1960s, the young people led the revolutionary movement, except where they were preceded by the older merchants, who did not want to lose what they had!  For more information go to Dr. Frank Clark’s site at

For a ‘kid friendly’ website on the American Revolution go to:

Based on a lesson by Eddeane Sims

Edited by Linda Apple

© 2005 Orange County Department of Education