Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, tells the beautiful tale of Minli, a "quick thinking" and "quick acting" girl, who has set out to change her family's fortune. On her brave journey to the Never Ending Mountain, Minli meets characters, each has a story to tell, imparting important lessons along the way.
This is an absolutely wonderful book containing a very complex quest with Chinese folktales and symbolism woven throughout the story, providing a cultural and historical context that deepens and enriches the reader's understanding of the characters and events. Also, you discover as you read that all of the characters in the story are connected in some way. Students used a Shutterfold Foldable® Project to help keep track of the places, characters, and folktales that Minli encountered, the Chinese symbols found in the story, and the items that Minli chose to take on her journey. Using the Foldable® was important because it provided students with a central location that they used to access information which helped them make sense of what was happening and better comprehend and enjoy this marvelous story.
The Shutterfold Foldable ® Project
Students first made a Shutterfold out of a 11 x 17 piece of cardstock. On the outside, they glued a copy of the cover of the book. This Shutterfold® became the place that held the 3 other Foldables® used in the project.
Foldables Inside the Shutterfold Foldable ®
Envelope Foldable ®: Minli's Blanket
When Minli left for her journey, she carefully packed a collection of objects into a blanket, tying the ends to use it as a carryall. In order for students to make predictions about how "quick thinking" Minli would use the items to get out of predicaments she encountered along her journey, they needed to have the names of those items close at hand. So, using a half sheet of 8 ½ x 11 colored paper, students made an Envelope Foldable® to represent Minli's blanket full of the items she brought on her journey. Inside the Envelope Foldable® they drew and labeled the items. This was glued to the left side of the cardstock Shutterfold Foldable®.
Shutterfold Foldable®: A Map of Minili's Journey
I introduced the idea of creating a map of Minli's journey by asking my students if they’d ever encountered maps in any of the books they had read. We discussed these questions "What kind of books have maps in them? Why? Do you think maps help you better understand the book? How?" Then I asked “Do you think creating a map of Minli’s story might help us better understand this book?” The students all agreed that a map would be helpful. I projected a few maps from books onto my SMARTboard for the students to use as models and I asked them what they noticed about the maps. I compiled a chart of their responses which included map features such as a compass rose, symbols that represent a mountain, rivers, and forests, labels, arrows, and important places and things from the stories such as a rock, a cave, buildings, bridges, and cities.
Here are some examples of maps from books:
The Shadow Realm from The Other Side of Magic series
Camp Half-Blood from the Lightning Thief series
Mouse Island from Geronimo Stilton Series
Students made a Shutterfold® map out of a piece of 11 x 17 white paper. They glued the back of the middle section of this Shutterfold® to the inside middle section of the cardstock Shutterfold®.
Click on image to enlarge
8-Tab Foldable®: Chinese Symbols
Students used an 8-Tab Foldable, made out of a piece of 8 ½ x 11 of colored paper for the Chinese Symbols found in the story. This was glued to the right side of the cardstock Shutterfold®. On the outside of the tabs, they wrote the Chinese symbols and their meaning. The symbols are explained in the Where the Mountain Meets the Moon activity book , which is available for download on Grace Lin's website. Under the tabs, students kept track of the places where they discovered hidden symbols in the story.
Using the Foldables®
As we read the story, students carefully drew their maps, adding important details. They recorded the places where the symbols appeared in the story on their 8-Tab Foldable®, drawing conclusions and making inferences. They referred to the items in the blanket to make predictions. The Foldables® gave students easy access to important details as we worked together to make meaning of the sometimes complex weaving of folktales within the story. They used the Foldable® to help support their thinking as they discussed the story in class or on our discussion wiki, WikiTalks.
This particular Shutterfold Foldable® can be easily adapted for use with any hero’s quest tale.
You can find directions for all of these Foldables® as well as many more ideas in Dinah Zike’s, The Big Book of Projects.