1 The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss Upper ES / Social Studies Beauty

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
Upper ES / Social Studies
Beauty, Belonging, Cause & Effect, Conformity, Equality,
Virtue & Vice
Have students brainstorm a list of up to 10 reasons why people follow what other people
do, for better or worse. Introduce the word conformity, provide a ready example, and
have students begin to practice using the word when talking about their list to an elbow
Distribute the text and ask participants to anticipate what they expect this reading to be
like. Read text first time aloud. Label the pages using the picture book as a guide (the
text runs from pages 3-25; for the text-only attached here, each page break is signified
by a new paragraph, and some pages are illustration-only in the book). Depending on
the developmental stage of the group, the text may be transcribed from the book,
multiple copies of the book may be located, or the book may be copied with graphics for
one-time use, arranged on a wall or in a circle within the group.
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel; March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an
American writer, poet, and cartoonist. Seuss published 46 children's books, often
characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of anapestic meter.
Seuss was said to be a perfectionist in his work and would sometimes spend up to a
year on a book. It was not uncommon for him to throw out 95% of his material until he
settled on a theme for his book.
The Sneetches and Other Stories is a collection of stories by Dr. Seuss, published in
1961. It is composed of four separate stories, “The Sneetches”, “The Zax”, “Too Many
Daves”, and “What Was I Scared Of?” This collection of stories was named one of the
"Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.
Provide (or mine participants for) definitions of unusual words. This is a good time to
discuss poetic license and the difference between new words and whimsical, created
Conformity, and other words listed in the Ideas, Values although not in the actual text,
need to be defined as necessary to fit the larger context of the unit/module.
(Post directions.) Have participants mark words and phrases of interest as well as
puzzlement. Participants should independently also consider the storyline. Have
participants note where they think the main conflict, the climax, and the resolution can
be identified within the story, drawing a linear “storyline” to visualize their thinking. This
will likely take several close readings.
 Without giving an explanation, tell what you think Dr. Seuss wanted people to
think about after reading this story. (Facilitator may choose to write these
ideas on a board or piece of butcher paper.) (round-robin response)
 Connect the story to one of our ideas on the board—preferably not your own.
Explain your connection to that idea. (spontaneous discussion)
 What is the most interesting problem of the story?
 What part of the story is the most surprising? The least surprising? Reference
the text in explaining your thinking.
 What cause and effect relationships do you see within the story?
 How would you describe Sylvester McMonkey McBean? What might he see
when he looks at the Sneetches? Use the text to support your thinking.
 Did the Sneetches learn? What did they learn? How do you know?
 Why do people include others? Why do people exclude others?
 What events in our world are connected to the ideas in this story? Please
share your creative connection and reasoning.
Students are asked to revisit their initial list from the Launch Activity, and make
additions. Put an “s” next to any that were brought up or mentioned in seminar.
After reading and discussing The Sneetches and what it has to say about conformity,
write a speech you can deliver in class in which you argue the causes of conformity and
explain the effects of conformity. Support your discussion with evidence from the texts.
(An added demand is draw a parallel to an historic event.)
(LDC Task#: 10 )
Participants will use the list they have generated and focus on cause and effect
relationships. At this point, participants may want to start with the effect or result and
work backwards to what caused it, in order to better understand cause and effect
relationships. Use arrows with students to show the link. Have students practice some
causeeffect or effectbecausecause relationships from the story, gradually
guiding them to cause and effect relationships to scaffold their thinking for the task on
conformity. Once they have selected the “link” that they want to explore, they need to
explain it to a partner and use the text as evidence.
Allot a few minutes for all to revisit The Sneetches text, draft an outline for their speech,
and refine their thinking. Have students use an organizational template as needed.
“Two-Two-Two” is a format that would structure their writing: Two causes, two effects,
and two examples from the text that support this thinking. (Remember, this is about
people and human nature, and not literally about The Sneetches. Students should refer
to their list (from the Launch and Brainstorm frequently.)
Challenge all to draft their speeches by following the “outline” format from the previous
Have participants work in pairs to read their first drafts aloud to each other. The reader
should make a special note to signify to the listener the connection between the cause
and effect relationship they have made to conformity and how it is illustrated within the
story. The listener should:
1. Repeat one cause and effect relationship heard, explicitly, by naming and
saying “cause” and “effect” to signify.
2. The listener should also be able to tell back how that relationship is supported
by the text.
3. Lastly, the listener should ask one question for clarification.
Roles are then switched. Give time for full revisions resulting in a second draft.
Once the second draft is complete, have participants work in groups of three or four and
this time take turns reading each other’s second drafts slowly and silently, marking
spelling or grammar errors they find, with a limit of five. (Have dictionaries and grammar
handbooks available for reference.) Take this opportunity to clarify/reteach any specific
grammar strategies you have identified your students may need. Give time for full
revisions and editing, resulting in a third and final draft.
Publish (either virtually or on paper) the final speeches in a collection that is to celebrate
people who stood up for what they believed in when it was hard or dangerous or both.
Be sure to allow time for the speeches, ideally pairing them with relative events in
The class could extend this to a “what if” project, asking “what if” conformity stood in the
way of something historically monumental and good—how might history have been
adversely changed?
“What if” conformity had been knocked down when historically it wasn’t—how might
history have been changed for the better?
Kelly Foster
National Paideia Center
Seminar text is readily available in bookstores and libraries everywhere…it is also
printed here without illustration.
The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss
Now, the Star-Belly SneetchesHad bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches-Had none upon thars.
Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small.
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.
But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches
Would brag, “We’re the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.
With their snoots in the air, they would sniff and they’d snort
“We’ll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort!”
And whenever they met some, when they were out walking,
They’d hike right on past them without even talking.
When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain- Belly get in the game…? Not at all.
You only could play if your bellies had stars
And the Plain-Belly children had none upon thars.
When the Star-Belly Sneetches had frankfurter roasts
Or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts,
They never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.
They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.
They kept them away. Never let them come near.
And that’s how they treated them year after year.
Then ONE day, seems…while the Plain-Belly Sneetches
Were moping and doping alone on the beaches,
Just sitting there wishing their bellies had stars…
A stranger zipped up in the strangest of cars!
“My friends,” he announced in a voice clear and keen,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
And I’ve heard of your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy.
But I can fix that. I’m the Fix-it-Up Chappie.
I’ve come here to help you. I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work at great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!
Then, quickly Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch…?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”
“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared
And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!
Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start,
“We’re exactly like you! You can’t tell us apart.
We’re all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties!
And now we can go to your frankfurter parties.”
“Good grief!” groaned the ones who had stars at the first.
“We’re still the best Sneetches and they are the worst.
But, now, how in the world will we know,” they all frowned,
“If which kind is what, or the other way round?”
Then came McBean with a very sly wink.
And he said, “Things are not quite as bad as you think.
So you don’t know who’s who. That is perfectly true.
But come with me, friends. Do you know what I’ll do?
I’ll make you, again, the best Sneetches on beaches
And all it will cost you is ten dollars eaches.”
“Belly stars are no longer in style,” said McBean.
“What you need is a trip through my Star-off Machine.
This wondrous contraption will take off your stars
So you won’t look like Sneetches who have them on thars.”
And that handy machine
Working very precisely
Removed all the stars from their tummies quite nicely.
Then, with snoots in the air, they paraded about
And they opened their beaks and they let out a shout,
“We know who is who! Now there isn’t a doubt.
The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”
Then, of course, those with stars all got frightfully mad.
To be wearing a star now was frightfully bad.
Then, of course, old Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Invited them into his star-off machine.
Then, of course from THEN on, as you probably guess,
Things really got into a horrible mess.
All the rest of that day, on those wild screaming beaches,
The fix-it-up Chappie kept fixing up Sneetches.
Off again! On Again! In again! Out again!
Through the machines they raced round and about again,
Changing their stars every minute or two.
They kept paying money. They kept running through
Until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew
Whether this one was that one … or that one was this one
Or which one was what one … or what one was who.
Then, when every last cent
Of their money was spent,
The Fix-it-Up Chappie packed up
And he went.
And he laughed as he drove
In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn.
No. You can’t teach a Sneetch!”
But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And whether they had one, or not, upon thars.
Retrieved November 2014 in part from:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0394800893/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-23376867903916#reader-link and from the plan writer’s own copy.