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Nights of the Pufflings

PDF Version With Materials

Grade Level: 3

Character Education Focus: Responsibility


Students learn how to use story details to identify the problem and the solution that occurs in the text. With the use of the story details, students gain a better understanding of the character attribute of responsibility.

(40 minutes)

Materials Needed

  1. McMillan, B. (2003). Nights of the Pufflings. In J. Cooper & J. Pikulski, Houghton Mifflin Reading: A Legacy of Literacy Grade 3 (pp.19-35). Boston , MS : Houghton Mifflin. 
  2. Student journals  
  3. Poster showing definition of responsibility - to be accountable for your own actions and choices (and their consequences) without blaming others

Academic Character Education Objectives

Students will:

  1. Read the story to identify the problem and solution that occurs.
  2. Identify problems within the story that are solved through the characters’ responsible actions.
  3. Describe in their journals why and how they think the children in the story exhibit characteristics of responsibility.

California English-Language Arts Standards Addressed


2.0 Reading Comprehension

  • 2.6  Extract appropriate and significant information from the text, including problems and solutions.


2.0 Writing Applications

  • 2.2  Write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things, or experiences.

Reprinted, by permission, California Department of Education

Lesson Procedures

  1. Introduce the lesson with a discussion that leads to the definition of responsibility emphasizing the civic mindedness element of this character element.  For example, how can we be responsible about the environment around us?  If we decided to do something to save an endangered species, how would that demonstrate that we are responsible? If we saw that something or someone was being mistreated, is it our responsibility to do something about it?
  2. Review the meaning of problem and solution.  Provide examples that explain problem and solution. For example, each day at lunch someone asks me for my sandwich. I am hungry and want to eat it, but I also don’t want to lose this person as a friend because I tell them I’m not going to share my sandwich with him. This is a problem. I could share my sandwich. Another responsible way to solve this problem would be to ask him if he would like me to make an extra sandwich for him tomorrow or, I may ask him if he needed lunch money to buy lunch. I could also speak to the teacher or lunch supervisor about my problem to get other solutions.
  3. Introduce any vocabulary words within the context of their use in the story as needed.
  4. Students read the story: “Night of the Pufflings” by Bruce McMillan as a class and as a whole group with students taking turns reading 2 –3 paragraphs at a time.
  5. Organize students into groups of four. Each student can present a problem to their team and then state how responsibility played a part in the solution to these problems. One student can check to see if everyone understands, another student can take notes, and the two remaining students can encourage and make sure each person participates.
  6. Students will come together as a class.  One representative chosen from each group will present their groups findings to the class.  Other group members may provide clarification as necessary.
  7. Teacher will record the student responses on a poster-size paper to be displayed on the wall to remind students of their discussion and the lesson. 
  8.  Ask students to summarize three problems from the story as reported by the students. Include how the problems were solved within the story.

Academic – Character Education Assessment

Academic Assessment: Observe whether students can identify problems and solutions from the story.

Character Education Assessment: Observe by monitoring student discussions, whether students are able to identify how responsibility was used to solve problems. Additionally, have students process their group work by responding to this question, how did we show responsibility as we worked together in our group?  

Reflective Journaling Prompts

Give an example of a time that you showed responsibility either at home or at school.

  1. The children of the story rescued the pufflings by catching them in boxes and releasing them into the ocean.  Describe what you think might happen to the pufflings if the children did not do this every year.
  2. Give an example of a problem you solved responsibly.

Extensions and Variations

To tie in with Writers Workshop, students can complete a problem-solution essay using the problem in the story as their focus.

Teacher Notes or References

As situations arise throughout the school year where problems occur within the classroom setting, it will be helpful to refer back to this lesson and review how responsibility was used by the characters in the story to solve problems.

This lesson can also be referred to when other problems are encountered in literature or current events.

Based on a lesson by Jenny Watson

Edited by Mary Wilson

© 2005 Orange County Department of Education