Theme: PEACEBOUND TRAINS can be used to introduce your students
to the Korean War, refugees, multigenerational families, grandmothers,
parents in the military, transportation, geography.
On June 25, 1950 communist troops from North Korea crossed the 38th
parallel and invaded South Korea. The 38th parallel was assigned
as the demarcation point between North and South Korea at the end
of World War II. Troops form 22 countries came together under the
banner of the newly created United Nations to fight the communist
forces from North Korea, China and the Soviet Union. Many families
in South Korea, like the family in the book, were forced to flee
to safer places. The fighting between North and South Korea continued
until July 27, 1953 when a cease-fire was negotiated but an armistice
was never signed. Today, North and South Korea remain divided at
the 38th parallel. North Korea is still a communist country and
South Korea is a democratic country. American troops still remain
in South Korea.
Show the students the cover of the book, read the title, author
and illustrators name. Ask them what they think the book will be
about. Next show the illustration of the modern train -- now what
do they think the book will be about. Ask if anyone has ever taken
a train ride. Where did they go? Did the train look more like the
one on the cover or the one inside the book? Was the train crowded?
Where did they ride? Set the location of the book -- tell the students
the book has a story within a story. Explain that the grandmother
will tell a story that happened many years ago. Have the students
look at a globe or world map to locate Korea and the United States.
As you read and show the illustrations have the students look
closely at the drawings. What details can they find in the pictures?
Have them look closely at the expressions on the faces for the characters
-- how do they change during the story. Ask the students how they
think the characters are feeling. Can they tell by the illustrations?
Don't forget to ask how they think Sumi's mother is feeling -- even
though there are no illustrations of her mother the students can
guess. Have a map near by to see how far it is from Seoul to Pusan.
Have the students plan a train trip. The students can do this in
small groups or altogether. Suggestion -- plan a modern day trip
from Seoul to Pusan and then compare and contrast that trip with
the trip in the book. Did they like the ending of the book -- rewrite
The author uses vivid descriptions of the character's eyes. Have
students find these in the text and then see if they can write some
of their own to describe a classmate's eyes or another item. Example:
milk-chocolate eyes; chestnut-brown eyes etc.
Talk with a Korean War Veteran -- then write their story. Talk with
a grandparent, or another relative or friend who has moved -- write
Have the students plan a trip across the United States, Canada,
Europe, Australia, etc. Ask them to estimate the miles, how long
will it take, what will they need to bring -- food, clothes, entertainment
items, books etc. What do the think they will see along the way
-- will the see rivers, mountains, lakes, deserts, plains, farms,
factories, cities etc.
on a world map. Tell the students that many countries sent troops
to fight in the Korean War. Have the students locate the countries
on the map. How many continents are represented -- list the continents
and place the participating countries under the correct continent.
Which continent is not represented?
Plan meals for the proposed train trip -- use the food pyramid
remember snacks and any special foods family members might require.
Farms and farming
-- where does our food come from? What is a rice paddy? Try growing
plants in a variety of ways -- soil, hydroponics etc. keep a journal
of their growth.
In the story
the family had to cross a river with heavy currents. Explore currents
and how rivers flow. Do lakes have currents, what other bodies of
water have currents?
Spend more time studying the Korean War. Cobblestone magazine
has a special edition devoted to the Korean War.
Talk about immigration
-- are there any immigrants in the class -- list the countries the
students ancestors came from are any of them a country that fought
in the Korean War?
Make a guidebook
to Korea -- cover topics like cities, geographical features, customs,
traditions, folklore, early history, food, games, traditional dress.
Read another book about Korea and the Korean War, DEAR
JUNO by Soyung Pak, THE
NAME JAR by Yangsook Choi. Look for other books by Haemi Balgassi
or Chris Soentpiet. If you really enjoyed PEACEBOUND TRAINS write
a review and post it on-line at Amazon.com
so others can enjoy your reading experience.
Make a yarn and paper rag doll.
Make a life-size
paper doll. Have students pick partners. Then have the students
take turns making tracings of each other on brown wrapping paper.
Now have the students cut out the tracings and decorate the paper
dolls with scraps of paper, fabric, yarn, and other craft items
-- don't forget magazine pictures.
Make paper dolls
to represent the characters in the story or children and adults
in traditional Korean dress.
and bulletin board pattern:
organizer -- use the modern and old style train cars to list
the events of each story. Example: Use the modern engine for the
first event in the story about Sumi or use the old style caboose
for the last event in the grandmother's story. Use the boxcars to
list the events of the story. Post the trains around the room.
Board -- use the "sack" to have each student list what they
would pack if the had to leave home suddenly -- remember they will
have to carry the "sack" so no televisions please!