Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thunder Cake.

Thunder Cake
By Patricia Polacco
Illustrations by Patricia Polacco

Book Summary:
A personal story favorite of mine, along with numerous others of Polacco's books, this story draws on the author's loving memories of childhood visits to her grandmother's farm in Michigan. Grandma, a Russian immigrant, is both wily and wise. She knows just how to distract Patricia from her fear of an approaching storm by measuring its distance, and then scurrying to bake a ''thunder cake'' before it arrives. Patricia barely has time to notice her nervousness as she collects eggs, milk, and other ingredients. By the time the storm breaks, she and Grandma are settling down to a delicious wedge of chocolate cake and a cozy cup of tea from the samovar. Patricia is surprised to realize how brave she has been.

Lesson: 1-2-3-4... Distance from a Storm.
Grade Level: Kindergarten
Lesson Duration: 40 minutes
Standards Addressed: Science & Math:
Standard K-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of seasonal weather changes.
Indicator K-4.2: Compare the weather patterns that occur from season to season.
Standard K-2: The student will demonstrate through the mathematical processes an emerging sense of quantity and numeral relationships, sets, and place values.
Indicator K-2.1: Recall numbers, counting forward through 99 and backward from 10.
Standard K-5: The student will demonstrate through the mathematical processes an emerging sense of coin values and the measurement concepts of length, weight, time, and temperature.
Indicator K-5.5: Understand which measure—length, weight, time, or temperature—is appropriate for a given situation.
Lesson Objectives:
-The student will identify the warning signs of a summer thunder storm.
The student will describe differences between thunder storms in the summer verses
-The student will describe the sounds thunder makes and identify the words the
author used to describe thunder.
- While listening to an audio recording of a thunderstorm, the student will count the
distance between him/she and the storm (based on the method used in the book).
-Polacco, P. (1990). Thunder cake. New York, NY: The Putnam & Grosset Group, Inc.
-2-3 minute thunderstorm audio clip and/or video:
-SMART board/ screen and projector.
-Thunder Cake Song- Download and lyrics (see below) @
-Copies of the Thunder Cake recipe (see below).
-Large flip chart.
-Thick marker.
-Copies of the Thunderstorm Counting worksheet.
-A light bulb.
-A sponge.
-A rectangular plastic bin/tub (≈8-12”x8-12”).
-A flashlight (and batteries).
-A static ball and/or video:
-Crayons, colored pencils, regular pencils, markers.
Extension A):
*You can have students bring some of the materials in from home prior to the day of the activity by sending a letter home to the parents-you can indicate what will be needed and have the parents check want they would be willing to lend, and then assign students to bring in certain materials. The parent letter would also provide a sign up list for parents to volunteer to help on the day of the activity. The letter will also have a copy of the recipe, indicating all ingredients and a place for parents to comment if their child has allergies to any of them.
-Mixing bowls (various size/2-3 per group, mixing spoons, whisks, small cake molds, oven mitts, measuring cups, measuring spoons.
-PAM non-stick spray.
-Paper towels.
-Tin foil.
-Plastic knives and forks.
-Paper plates.
-4 cake platters.
-Parent Letter/Material list/Volunteer Sign-up.
-Class set of Thunder Cake recipes.
-Thunder Cake story sequencing cards.
-Access to a refrigerator.
-Access to 1+ ovens.
-Egg timer.
-CD with thunder sounds.
-Stereo/boom box.
-Thunder Cake ingredients as listed on the recipe (x4-amount recalculated in ( )’s):
- Shortening (4 cups)
- Sugar (7 cups)
- Vanilla extract (4 teaspoons)
- Eggs (1 dozen)
- Pureed tomatoes (1 1/3 cups)
- Flour (9 cups)
- Baking soda (5 teaspoons)
- Salt (5 teaspoons)
- Chocolate butter frosting (4 containers)
- Diced strawberries (4 cups).
**IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER: Any student allergies, parent volunteers to help (1/group and to do the oven portion), amount of time needed to bake, might want to see if this can be done in school’s kitchen, send the parent letters home far enough in advance.
(Extension B):
-Thunder cake song lyrics-class set and file saved on computer.
-Thunder Cake song recorded to a CD.
-Boom box/stereo
-A computer
-SMART board
[The class will be seated on the carpet]
The teacher will ask the students to name some different kinds of weather patterns and the noises they can make.
1. The teacher will introduce today’s topic: Thunderstorms.
2. The teacher will activate schema by asking students about their personal experiences with thunderstorms, if they like thunderstorms, and how thunderstorms make them feel.
3.The teacher will remind the student to use their sense of hearing during the story, respect his/her neighbors by not talking while the story is being read, to stay seated on his/her bottom, and if the student has a question related to the story to raise his/her hand. The teacher will explain that they will discuss the story after reading it so to try and save comments until after the story is read
4. The teacher will read aloud the story, Thunder Cake.

5. The teacher will ask the students to predict what they think the story is going to be about by looking at the title and cover illustration.

6. The teacher will ask the student if he/she gets frightened by lightening like the little girl in the story.

7. The teacher will point out some of the words the author uses to describe the sound of thunder.

8. The teacher will take student questions and comments.

9. The teacher will ask the students to recall the signs of an approaching thunder storm that were mentioned in the story.(Very humid-“hot, heavy, damp”, dark clouds, shorter distances between thunders “booms/cracks,” by reviewing the text and illustrations in the book with the students and listing the students’ answers on the flip chart.

10. The teacher will ask the students to recall what season this story takes place in, and other than the author stating the season in the text, what other things might help to indicate the season (use illustrations, words-“hot, heavy, damp”, the student is not in school, point out where is indicates the season in the text, etc. to describe that it is summer.

11. Ask the students if a thunderstorm in the winter might be different than the one in this story that takes place in summer(temperature outside, signs of a thunderstorm, etc.).


1. The teacher will very briefly give the students some background on thunderstorms: Thunder and lightning storms (and rain) are common in the summer because there is so moisture in the air, which is the dampness, and stuffiness we feel; we call this humidity. The teacher will write humid on the board and ask the students to repeat the word aloud. The teacher will continue: With so much moisture the clouds are like sponges and cannot hold anymore so it rains. [The teacher demonstrates this with a tub of water and a sponge].
2. The teacher will explain what causes the loud noise thunder and the flash of lightning: The noise of thunder and the flash of lightening are caused by electricity in the sky, just like the electricity we use for light bulbs. [The teacher will hold up a light bulb] It is also the same energy you feel if you have ever gotten a shock by touching something. Electricity comes in particles that bump into each other, just like if I were to bump into (student’s name). This causes a loud noise and the light across the sky. [The teacher will share with the student a static ball/video of a static ball to show this].
3. The teacher will ask the students to think back to the book and to recall how the girl in the story used the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder (to determine the distance of the storm).
4. The teacher will demonstrate how the girl in the story started counting when she saw the flash of lightening until she heard the sound of the thunder, on the white board using tally marks. The teacher will review how to use tally marks pointing out the tally marks they use daily for counting the days on the calendar. The teacher will explain to the student that he/she will have a chance to practice this. The teacher will demonstrate how the activity will be done: The teacher will dim the lights in the room, switch the flashlight on and off (to represent lightning), and then the student will begin to make tally marks on the Thunder worksheet until he/she hears the noise of the thunder. They will repeat this several times. The student will then count eat tally up under the numbers listed on the worksheet. As a class they will talk about if they think the example of the storm is moving away from them or moving toward them. The teacher will explain how they can do this by seeing if the numbers are getting smaller or bigger each time they count. After they are done, the teacher will allow the student time to draw a picture of a thunderstorm, something he/she learned/saw in this activity, or what he/she does during a thunderstorm.
5. The student will complete the activity and the teacher will collect the student’s worksheets.
Extensions-To be done following this lesson over the course of the same week:
Extension A:
1. The teacher will give the students about 3-5 minutes to share their illustration from the previous lesson.
2. Prior to reading to the students the teacher will ask them to pay close attention to the steps the girl and her grandmother take in collecting the ingredients and the steps in making the cake. The teacher will reread Thunder Cake with the students.
3. The teacher will put the students into 4 groups, to complete a sequencing activity about the steps that the grandma and the girl in the story took when making the Thunder Cake.
4. The teacher will distribute sequencing picture cards and give them time to put them in the correct order.
5. The teacher will walk around and one the group has completed the sequencing activity in the correct order, check the names of the students off on a class list.
6. The teacher will then tell the students that they will be making Thunder Cake today and
that some parents will be arriving shortly to help with this. The teacher will go over and pass
out the recipe to the class. The teacher will also hand out a set of directions with images
illustrating the various steps, similar to the ones they saw in the sequencing activity.
7. The teacher will go over behavior and safety guidelines that must be followed during this baking lesson.
8. When the parents arrive the students will work in their groups with one parent assigned to each group and make Thunder Cake.
9. The students will clean up their cooking materials.
10. They will have the opportunity to frost and add the strawberries to the cake after it has cooled (after lunch), and then eat the cake, while the teacher reviews what skills the students have learned in the two lessons and what knowledge they have gained. The students will be encouraged to add what they have learned as individuals.
Extension B:
1. The teacher will teach the class the song Thunder Cake, by distributing a class set of song lyrics and projecting the lyrics of the song on the SMART board so that the teacher can point to each word as it is sung.
2. Once the students have practiced it several times the teacher will add music and encourage students to stand up and move/dance like a thunder storm.
-The teacher will use the Thunderstorm Counting Worksheet to assess addition skills and comprehension of the Thunder lesson.
- The teacher will observe and take notes re: the ways the students identify differences between summer and winter storms.
- In the extension the teacher will observe and take notes during the sequencing activity and during the baking activity.
-If the lesson is too difficult: The teacher will focus on the differences between summer and winter and then do the counting activity, deciding not to explain what causes thunder and lightning unless asked.
-If the lesson is too easy: The teacher will discuss the distance of the storm in more detail, including what a mile is. The teacher will go over storm safety.

Thunder Cake Recipe
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together one at a time:
1 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, separated
( blend yolks in. Beat whites until they are stiff, then fold in.)
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes
3. Sift together:
21/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dry cocoa
11/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4. Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture. Bake in two greased and floured 8 1/2 inch pans at 350 degree for 35 to 40 minutes. Frost with chocolate butter frosting. Top with strawberries.
* Materials list is adjusted for each group (4 groups) to make a cake, so the recipe is quadrupled.

Thunder Cake Song Lyrics
(to tune of “Yankee Doodle”)
1.Grandma looked on the horizon and a storm was coming
The thunder rumbled loud and strong like a million drummers drumming
With the right ingredients ,Thunder Cake is yum-yum
But you need to have it baked before the storm comes
ZIP went the lightning! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 BAROOOOOOOOOM!
2. The child was afraid of thunder and it made her shake
Grandma said, “Don’t worry, child. Let’s make a Thunder Cake!”
With the right ingredients, Thunder Cake is yum-yum
But you need to have it baked before the storm comes
ZIP went the lightning! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 BOOM BA-BOOOOOM!
3.First they gathered up some eggs from mean old Nellie Peck hen
After Kick Cow gave them milk then to the shed they went
With the right ingredients, Thunder Cake is yum-yum
But you need to have it baked before the storm comes
ZIP went the lightning! 1-2-3-4-5-6 CRACKLE, CRACKLE BOOOOM,
4.Next they got some chocolate and some sugar and some flour
But that thunderstorm was getting closer by the hour
With the right ingredients, Thunder Cake is yum-yum
But you need to have it baked before the storm comes
ZIP went the lightning! 1-2-3-4-5 KA- BANG BOOOOAROOOOM!
5.Three overripe tomatoes was the main secret ingredient
The child picked them for Grandma because she was so obedient
With the right ingredients, Thunder Cake is yum-yum
But you need to have it baked before the storm comes
ZIP went the lightning! 1-2-3-4 KA-BA-BOOOOOOOOOOM!
6.Grandma taught her granddaughter that she was really brave
And all her fears of thunderstorms just simply went away
With the right ingredients, Thunder Cake is yum-yum
But you need to have it baked before the storm comes
ZIP went the lightning! 1-2-3 RRRUMBLE! CRASH!

No comments:

Post a Comment