Homer and the Five Senses

Homer PRice Audio Book Tales2go

Standards and Objective

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4
Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

Materials

  • A chalkboard or chart paper
  • Colored Pencils or Markers
  • Poster board or cardstock
  • An assortment of newspapers and magazines
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Tales2go Titles

  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

Activity

Homer is a very helpful and “on-task” boy.  He builds radios, helps keep up his parent’s resort and does odd jobs. He even takes care of a skunk, Aroma, as if were a cat.

Homer has a talent for understanding what people (and skunks) need and what they like, which helps him to become a hero in this story.

As you listen to Homer Price’s The Case of the Sensational Scent, think about how Homer gathers information using all of his senses.  He hears an advertisement for Dreggs Lotion on the radio, and the slogan was written by a contest winner from Centerburg, which is his town.

The contest-winning slogan was “The aftershave lotion with the distinctive, invigorating smell that keeps you on your toes.”

How does Homer “keep on his toes” throughout the story?

Play: The first chapter of Homer Price

The robbers in the story seemed to know that the suitcase full of money would be at the event.  How were they so prepared for the heist?  What information did they have that lead them to the prize money?
Help students make a connection to announcing your whereabouts on the radio and posting personal information on modern social media, like Twitter and Facebook. The robbers clearly heard the radio announcement.
The robbers gave away several cues too. They used the lotion right away, kept their money out, and cooked bacon at their campsite, which has a smell that attracts attention. One robber even uses his extensive vocabulary to communicate with the other robbers, which makes him stick out even more.

Luckily, Homer Price stays “on his toes” and pays attention to details, so he can report the details to adults, but doesn’t do so because he’s worried he’ll lose his pet and assumes the police will find the robbers without him.

Your task is to make an advertisement for the aftershave lotion using the slogan:
The aftershave lotion with the distinctive, invigorating smell that keeps you on your toes.

Your advertisement is to include:

  • A bottle of the lotion
  • The name of the product
  • The slogan
  • A character from the story, such as Homer, one for the robbers, the sheriff, or Homer’s father.
  • Aroma the skunk
  • A detail to indicate a scent, like wafting lines
  • A reference to modern media, such as a web address or Twitter handle “created” for the product

Encourage students to include details in their work.  Students can work in pairs or small groups to create their ads, at the teacher’s discretion.  Teams may choose to take a logical approach in their ad, appealing to the customer’s sense of reason. Other students may choose an emotional approach, using a theme like “home” or “romance.” A third technique could be to capitalize on the credibility of the person (or skunk) in the ad. In that case, you might not want to include the robbers!  Teams should agree on a strategy before planning their campaign.

Students can use art supplies and can cut images out of magazines to enhance their advertising efforts.  Students can also download images from the internet is they have access during the school day.

Think about creating the ad in a persuasive way that both interests people in the product and demonstrates an understanding what it means to be “on your toes”.  For example, when the sheriff told the others to wait for an alarm and then chase the criminals, was he “on his toes”? When the robbers argue about how to split the lotion in loud voices, in a cabin with windows a person can look into, were they on their toes?

Summary:

Homer uses his sense of smell to identify the $5 bill as part of the stolen money, reads about the fact skunks spray when startled, listens to the robber’s conversations, and observes the room to determine whether or not there were weapons in the cabin.  As students display their ads to the rest of the class, encourage classmates to identify details in the advertisements, such as the setting, clever use of a font, or color. Attention to details in storytelling is critical.

Extensions and Variations

Students who need a different challenge can use Aroma as a mascot to create an ad for the vacation cabins, since Aroma became a big attraction for tourists. Try to keep the slogan to only 140 characters!

Fun Fact:
Many of the characters in the Homer Price stories have names borrowed from mythology. A quiz about this story can be found here.

About the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) lay out very specific listening requirements, by grade, as part of a dedicated strand for speaking and listening skills. The standards specify the use of ‘other media’ within the standards, e.g., “CCSS.ELA-Literacy 3.2 Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.”
Listening is placed on equal footing with reading, writing and speaking. And for those tempted to just pair audio with visual text, that approach is common and valid with emerging readers, but not what the standards intend.
The CCSS also requires students to comprehend texts of steadily increasing complexity as they progress through school. Audio books can act as an important scaffold that allows students to read above their actual reading level.
Learn more at www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy.