The Lights! Curtains! Cows! Study Guide – by Karin Adams
Below are some fun, creative projects that you can do with your class, as one big group, or in several, smaller group. Each project or activity relates to story content or themes from Lights! Curtains! Cows!. Use one, two, or all of the ideas – or let them inspire your own original class project idea!
Performing Arts – Download the original song The Legend Of Cow Valley (you can find it on my “Fun Stuff” page). Plan a “lip-sync” performance. Use actions, costumes, and props. Performers can be cowpokes, cows, singers and musicians. Perform your masterpiece for another classroom. (Remember – like the title of Chapter 9 – Practice Makes Perfect!)
Bookmarks – Working on sturdy paper cut to the bookmark size of your choice, design a bookmark that reminds you of Lights! Curtains! Cows!. You can draw your favourite character or scene, or write your favourite quote from the book in fancy writing. Be colourful and creative!
Act it out – Small groups can pick a chapter or scene from the book, stage it, and act it out for the rest of the class.
Get Noisy! – In Chapter 13, the kids of Ellis use their voices and stamp their feet to become a stampede. Why don’t you try it out? It would be a great way to get your group “warmed up” before you read the next chapter in Lights! Curtains! Cows!. What creative noises – besides MOOs – can you think of using to make believe that you are a rumbling, rattling, rushing cattle stampede. (Warning – this can get LOUD! You may want to warn other classrooms, or even take your stampede outside).
History Mystery – In Lights! Curtains! Cows!, the Derksen farm becomes a historical site. What are the historical sites in your neighborhood, town, city or province? If there is a historical site nearby, consider planning a field trip to check it out. And/or do a Who? What? When? Where? Why? exercise. Have students read and research about a local historic site, and answer these five questions about it.
Make Your Own Campaign – Becky Kowalski gets her friends involved in a campaign to save The Legend Of Cow Valley. Her campaign involves speeches, posters, a petition and a fundraiser. In small groups or as a classroom, make your own campaign to bring awareness to the cause of your choice. It could be a “real” cause, like getting more people to recycle. Or, it could be a completely made-up and funny cause, like saving the seven-horned crimson spotted Boolonga beast from too much homework. You can make posters, write speeches, make a commercial, write a newspaper add – get creative! You can promote your campaign in your class, throughout your school or even in your community (depending on your cause!).
Movie trailer – Imagine that Lights! Curtains! Cows! was coming out as a movie (hey – maybe one day it will!). In small groups, make “movie trailers” and video tape them or act them out for the rest of the class. You can have a narrator, act out a scene using colorful costumes and props (feel free to use the Legend of Cow Valley song!) – your goal is to make everyone want to see the latest blockbuster!
Cows R Cool – How many stomachs do cows have? How many different breeds of cows are there in the world? What are the most common breeds of cows in your province or state? There are so many facts to learn about cows! Why not study cows in your science class? You can have students draw and label the digestive system of a cow, or gather facts about our bovine friends (challenge kids to find 25 different facts about cows by researching in the library and/or the Internet).
Imagine a New Friend – Who was your favourite character in Lights! Curtains! Cows!? What would you do if you could spend a day with that person? What would you choose to do together? What would you say to each other? Write a page describing your day with your imaginary friend. Make it even more fun by drawing a picture.
What happens next? When you’ve finished Lights! Curtains! Cows!, do you wonder what happens next to the characters in the book? Write a page or two that describes what happens the next summer in Ellis. Be sure to include the characters that you’ve met in the book. You can even pretend that you are one of the characters and write from that point of view. Once again, an illustration to accompany your story would be terrific!
Lights! Curtains! Cows! Trivia Board Game– Create a board game where students have to create question-and-answer cards with facts about Lights! Curtains! Cows! (e.g. Q- Who is most worried about telling Becky that the Legend of Cow Valley is over? A- Greg; Q- Mr. Derksen has A. A dentist’s office B. A hotel C. A cattle farm D. A hockey arena). You can go crazy when designing the board – why not use the town of Ellis your backdrop (include landmarks like the Derksen farm, the school, and Fontaine’s Famous Fries) and fun cow pieces to move along the squares.
Town Pride – An important theme in this book is “town pride” – the young people of Ellis love their town, especially the tradition of performing The Legend of Cow Valley each summer. What do you love about your town? What makes it special? In small groups or as a class, celebrate your town pride. Make posters, brochures, buttons, and flags that highlight the things that are special about your community.
Extra Research ideas for Town Pride project: Does your town, city, province or state have an official flag? What colours does it have? What design or symbols are found on it, and why? When is your town or city’s “birthdate”? How many people live there? What is it’s most famous landmark? Gather as many facts as you can about the place that you live.