"All Summer in a Day", a Ray Bradbury short story, was originally written in 1959 for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It is a futuristic view of life on Venus. Though we now know that Venus is uninhabitable by humans, this work depicts a thriving, albeit miserable, colony of “rocket men and women” and their families. On Bradbury’s Venus, it violently rains with hurricane force for seven years at a time, and the sun only breaks through for a predictable two hours between these downpours.
By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!
A Quick Synopsis of "All Summer in a Day" (Contains Plot Spoilers)
Margot moved to Venus with her parents when she was four. She can remember Earth and the warm, sunny days from her early childhood. On Venus, she and her other nine-year-old classmates are anxiously waiting for the two hour window of sunlight that will be its first appearance for the homesteaders of Venus in seven years. Margot’s classmates don’t consciously remember the sun. They are cruelly envious that Margot does.
In their classroom, the children excitedly ask their teacher about the coming event. She says that the scientists have promised the two hour reprieve from the horrid conditions in which they live. In preparation for it, the students sing songs, write poems, and put paintings of sunny days on the walls.
Margot, who appears visibly washed out and drained from the absence of sunlight, isn’t the only one excited about it, but she is the most affected. Since arriving on Venus, she’s never been able to enjoy her life underground and without the sun. She is desperate to return to Earth, or at least see the sun for a bit.
The Venusian children hate Margot. They think she is strange. She is so tormented by the stormy weather that she has gone half mad and half catatonic at times. She refuses to shower, because it is too much like the sound of the rain, and can’t participate in games because she’s gone numb. The children tease her, saying the sun is not coming.
In the moments before the sun is due to show, the children shove Margot down the tunnels and into a closet, locking the door. They see the sun and forget all about Margot. Everyone goes out and plays, enjoying the two hours until the rain begins to fall again.
As the children return to their underground home, one of the girls remembers Margot and is struck with feelings of guilt. She reminds the other children what they have all done. With a palpable sense of guilt, they all go to the closet and release their captive.
Essential Questions for "All Summer in a Day"
Can our environment change how we approach living?
How do our actions affect others?
How do authors do effectively present setting?
All Summer in a Day Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers
[ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
[ELA-Literacy/RL/7/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama
A great way to engage your students is with storyboards that use vocabulary from "All Summer in a Day". Below are a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the short story, and an example of a visual vocabulary board.
[ELA-Literacy/RL/6/5] Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot
[ELA-Literacy/RL/7/3] Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot)
Settings help to bring the reader into the story and they really come alive when you use a storyboard to illustrate them. In this activity, students will identify the setting of "All Summer in a Day", and support their choices with details from the text.
Sights and Sounds
The story is set on the planet Venus, but it is a fictional version of it, as it does not have the environment which we know it to have.
There is constant rain and near hurricane forces at all times.
Most of the story shows the characters in their concrete, drab, underground schoolroom with some mention of the tunnels and other underground living areas.
[ELA-Literacy/RL/6/3] Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution
[ELA-Literacy/RL/7/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text
Use for Storyboard That create a plot diagram of the events from "All Summer in a Day". Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a five-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the short story in sequence using Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
The other students see Margot as different. She is very introverted and meek. Unlike the other children, Margot only came from Earth four years ago. She remembers (and misses) the sun. She is devastated by her move to Venus because of the constant rain.
The children excitedly talk about the sun. They make paintings and poems about it. None but Margot remember the sun, because seven years ago, when it last stopped raining, they were only two years old. Margot was four when she moved from Earth.
Just before the sun emerges and the rain subsides for the two-hour reprieve, the students lock Margot in a closet. The rain stops and they instantly forget about her. They go outside to play in the wild Venusian jungle, leaving Margot behind.
As Margot screams and cries in the closet, knowing that she is missing the only chance at seeing the sun for the next seven years, the children laugh and play, absorbing the fleeting moments of sunshine. Then the thunder booms and a raindrop is felt.
As the children file back into the underground world, relishing the time in the warmth of the sun, one of the students remembers Margot. They all stop and very slowly open the door to let out the now silent and completely devastated Margot.