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The Great Kapok Tree:
Teaching About Conflict in Literature


Teacher Lesson


  • Literature


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Using The Three Little Pigs and The Great Kapok Tree, students gain an understanding of the development of plot and of how conflict is resolved in literature. Students demonstrate this understanding by completing a graphic organizer.


Students will

  • understand how, in literature, plot often brings about a solution to a problem.
  • complete a Somebody---Wanted --- But --- So graphic organizer to illustrate conflict in literature.


Plot, conflict, resolution, problem, The Great Kapok Tree, Lynne Cherry, The Three Little Pigs, graphic organizer

Materials Needed

  • copies of The Three Little Pigs and The Great Kapok Tree
  • copy of a Somebody---Wanted --- But --- So [4-column] chart

Lesson Plan

Start this lesson by writing on the chalkboard the words problem and solution. Introduce the words and discuss their meanings. Activate students' prior knowledge by asking them if they ever have had a problem to solve. Call on several students to share their thoughts.

Next, introduce a chart with four columns and headings:

Somebody---Wanted --- But --- So
Explain to students that many problems and solutions can be illustrated by filling in the 4-column chart.
  • Somebody is a person who wants or needs something.
  • Wanted is the thing that person wants or needs.
  • But is the problem that is getting in the way of what the person wants or needs.
  • So is the solution to the problem.

Use the chart format above to illustrate a problem or two that the students shared in the previous discussion. Then read to students the story of The Three Little Pigs. Work as a class to complete the Somebody---Wanted --- But --- So chart to illustrate the story.

Prior to reading The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry, invite students to share their prior knowledge about the rain forest. Write students' comments on a chalkboard or chart.

Next, introduce the story of The Great Kapok Tree. Before reading, explain to students that there is a problem in the story that needs to be solved.

After reading, discuss the problem that was central to the story. What was the problem? What events led to a resolution of the problem? How was the problem solved? Have students work on their own to fill in the Somebody---Wanted --- But --- So chart.


Students demonstrate an understanding of the development of plot and of how conflicts are resolved in a story by completing correctly the Somebody---Wanted --- But --- So chart. The final chart should include the following information:

  • Somebody: a man
  • Wanted: to cut down the kapok tree.
  • But: the animals of the rain forest convinced him not to.
  • So: the man changed his mind and left the rain forest without cutting down the tree.

Submitted By

Karen Garcia, Parkview Elementary School in Opa-locka, Florida

Originally published 04/10/2003
Last updated 01/05/2009

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