Lemony Snicket - Books One: The Bad Beginning and Book Two: The Reptile Room

HarperCollins, 1999
Activities 2002 Nancy Polette

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Complete, ready-to-use guides for the Lemony Snicket  -- Book One:  The Bad Beginning and Book Two: The Reptile are available from Pieces of Learning. Web site http://www.piecesoflearning.com
ABOUT THE BOOK
The three Baudelaire children have lost their parents in a fire. Violet, 14, Klaus ,12, and Sunny, thebaby are taken to live with Count Olaf by Mr. Poe, the banker in charge of the family fortune. Count Olaf is an evil man who wants to get the children's fortune and do away with them. In Book One he nearly forces Violet to marry him so that he will get all of her money. In Book Two he murders the children's guardian and plans to hide them away in Peru. The children face one danger after another. As the author suggests, in both books the children face a series of unfortunate events!
1. TOPIC TALKING
Assign partners. Partner A speaks to partner B on a topic given by the teacher (and related to the selection to be read) for 10 seconds. The teacher then says 'switch' and B speaks to A on the topic for 10 seconds. The teacher says stop and then gives a second topic. The same procedure is followed but speaking time can be increased. Over a period of weeks, gradually increase the size of the group so that one child is speaking to two others, then three others etc.
Purpose: To get students to share experiences about what they will be reading and to develop oral language facility.
Topics for The Bad Beginning: Orphans, A House Fire, An Evil Person
2. VOCABULARY
Make a giant sentence! Use aS many of these words as you can to describe the illustration on page 106 in Book One. Add other words as needed.
misfortune intelligentdespair resourcefulmansion
mysterious frighteningparticipateperish orphans
enthusiasmrecuperategrotesqueconversation convenient
guardian dilapidated ridiculous impression tolerated
thieves performance poisonous troupe responsibility
concentratedistracted delicious abominable repetitive
inhuman revolting despicable circumstances meditate
predicament posthaste notorious dilemma stagestruck
3. PRE READING JOURNAL
Provide students with open-ended sentence starters for the story or novel chapters to be read. These are related in general to what the students will be reading. Students choose one to write about for five minutes. Then students get into small pre-assigned groups and read aloud to each other what they have written.1. When a house looks like a pigsty...
2. First impressions can be wrong if...
3. Acts which arouse suspicion...
4. A rescue plan becomes dangerous when...
5. A story with an unhappy ending..
4. POST READING DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Work in small groups. Choose one of the questions to discuss. Each group willhave a secretary to record the main ideas of the discussion. At the end of adesignated discussion time the secretary will report the group's ideas to the class.1. What villains do you remember from other stories? How do they compare with Count Olaf?
2. How might the story change if the orphans fought with each other rather than working together to solve their problems?
3. The author says the story does not have a happy ending. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
5. THE ACROSTIC SUMMARY
People who look physically different from others often have a difficult time in society.One person who made a success of his very small size is Mickey Carroll who wasone of the Munchkins in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Read the bio poem abouthim that follows. Then research the life of the Alton Giant, Robert Wadlow and writea bio poem about him.
M unchkin
I n 1919 born in St. Louis
C eased growing at age nine
K ind and generous
E nergetic
Y oung children love him

C harities benefit from his appearances
A lways ready to help others
R aises one million dollars a year
R eady to help those in need
O wner of a Monument Company
L oves people
6. THE MYSTERY REPORT
When Violet put on her hair ribbon she was ready to invent something.Inventors must see an idea in the mind first before it becomes reality. Choose an inventor. Find six facts about him or her. List your facts in random order. These are clues. One of your clues must be a 'give away' clue. Ask classmates (one at a time) to give you a number between one and six. Read the clue for that number. The student can guess or pass. The game continues until the Mystery Inventor is guessed or all clues are read.Example: WHO AM I?
1. I did not finish grade school.
> 2. I burned down my father's barn.
3. My teachers thought I was stupid.
> 4. I worked for the railroad for a time.
5. I printed and sold my own newspaper.
> 6. I invented the electric light.
7. PROBLEM SOLVING
The Count will tell one of his henchmen to drop Sunny from a high tower if Violet refuses tomarry him. The ceremony is to be performed on stage by a real judge who thinks she is simplytaking part in a play. However, the marriage ceremony will be legal. What can Violet do?
List Ideas Here Fast Safe for Sunny Will Work Total
_________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________
Score each idea 1=no 2=maybe 3-yes
8. POETRY
Use these poems from famous poets to write about the characters and settings of the Lemony Snicket books.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.
Christina Rosetti

Slow things are beautiful,
The closing of day
The pause of a wave
That curves downward to spray.
Elizabeth Coatsworth

Who has seen the Count's house
Only two or one
But when the door is opened
You know it's time to run.

Change the verse to:
Snicket things are terrible,
The _____ and the _____
The ______________________
That ________________________ .
9. BRAINSTORM
Name several things that are:
A. As sinister as Count Olaf.
B. As useful as a large library.
C. As scary as a room full of poisonous snakes.
D. As irritating as a bad cough.
10. A REWRITE CHALLENGE
Re-write the following sentences, keeping the same meaning. Do not use any word in your sentences that contains the letter I.
A. The reptile room was filled with cages.
B. The assistant Stephano was the Count in disguise.
C. The girl wore a ribbon when she wanted to invent something.
11. A POETRY BOOK REPORT
Come hear this sad story
A tale somewhat gory
Of children whose lives were in danger.
Three orphans, they fought!
But oh, dear! they were caught
By a devious, sneaky-eyed stranger.

Olaf was his name
One of evil and shame
And poor Violet and Klaus and young Sunny
Were his prisoners, you see
They would never get free
For the Count wanted all of their money.

To give you the shakes
The orphans meet snakes
And carnivorous beasts that devour
And a hook-handed man
With a terrible plan
To drop Sunny off of a tower.

Of the orphans' sad plight
Filled with terror and fright,
And no one on whom they're depending,
I must tell you sadly
That things will go badly
For alas, there is no happy ending.
12. HIDDEN TITLES
(Find the first nine Lemony Snicket titles hidden in this story.)
In a vile village somewhere in storyland there were three orphans who were in danger from the terrible Count Olaf. This series of books had a bad beginning when the children lost their parents in a fire. In one book they were about to be thrown into a pit with animals that were mostly carnivorous. Carnival people in the story would not save them. In another book Violet looked through a wide window to see a reptile room full of poisonous snakes. They found that life in the country could be miserable. Mill wheels turning round and round made them dizzy. At one point in the series the three were sent to an austere academy where everyone was hostile. Hospital stays would have been more fun than living at the academy. In escaping many of the dangers they faced, the orphans rode an ersatz elevator which took them to even greater dangers.

The author warns the reader not to read his whole Series of Unfortunate Events if the reader wants books that have happy endings.

SUPER STUDENT CHALLENGE
Write a different story that hides the first nine titles in the Lemony Snicket series.