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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

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Student Activities for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Include:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is a fictional novel about brother and sister runaways who live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, eventually working to solve the mystery of Michelangelo’s sculpture.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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A Quick Synopsis of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Contains Plot Spoilers)

Claudia Kincaid is tired of the injustice and mundaneness of her life. Being the oldest of four kids, she is responsible for more chores and gets less allowance than anybody else in her class at school. She chooses her brother Jamie to join her, mostly because he has a lot of money, and plans almost every detail of how they’ll run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Claudia and Jamie pack their instrument cases with clothes and duck down in the back row of the school bus, then boarding a train unnoticed. Claudia mails a note home letting her parents know not to call the FBI. Arguing time and again about decisions on where to go and what to spend money on, the two Kincaids make it to the museum and scope out a place to sleep for the night.

After a successful night of sleeping in the museum, Claudia and Jamie hide out in the bathroom until the museum is open to the public.They eat breakfast and decide to visit a new exhibit each day, beginning with the Italian Renaissance. It is especially crowded in this section of the museum; a beautiful new angel statue is on display with news reporters snapping photographs. The next day, Claudia and Jamie find a discarded newspaper and read about the statue; it is believed to be the work of Michelangelo and was purchased for only $225.00 from Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. (Claudia misses the section of the newspaper that describes their disappearance.) Claudia and Jamie are eager to find out the truth about the statue.

Claudia and Jamie spend hours at the library reading and looking at photographs to gather information about the statue. Back at the museum, they find a clue about the Angel; there are initials carved into the bottom of the statue. They write an anonymous letter to the museum and purchase a P.O. Box to wait for the response. After a few days, they receive a letter informing them that the museum is aware of the clue and experts are still searching for more information before they can make any determination. Claudia is very disappointed and feels like a failure. Jamie suggests returning home, but Claudia cannot stand the idea of returning home the same person; she wants to be different in some way.

Claudia and Jamie get the idea to visit Basil E. Frankweiler to get information. They use the rest of their money to take a taxi to her home in Farmington, Connecticut. At first, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler refuses to see the children, but after Jamie announces who they are, they are escorted to her office. During this visit, Mrs. Frankweiler gets to know the children and decides to bargain with them: she will share her secret of the Angel if they tell her all the details about running away. Claudia and Jamie look through the files in Mrs. Frankweiler’s office and find a sketch which is proof that Angel was created by Michelangelo. Claudia is happy to know this secret, and is surprised when Mrs. Frankweiler says that she will leave the sketch to Claudia and Jamie in her will.

Claudia and Jamie are escorted home the next evening by a chauffeur. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler reveals to readers a secret that she kept from the children: the lawyer who she is writing to is also Claudia and Jamie’s worried grandfather.


Essential Questions for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

  1. What do you need in order to have an adventure?
  2. Why is it important to find your identity?
  3. If you are being taken for granted, what can you do about it?
  4. What does it mean to accept yourself, and why is it important?
  5. What is injustice, and how might people feel if they are treated this way?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Character Map

In this activity, students should depict the characters of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, paying close attention to the physical and character traits of both major and minor characters. Students should provide detailed information regarding the characters’ actions and how they influence other characters. In addition, students can identify how the main characters change over time.

Characters included in the character map are:

  • Claudia Kincaid
  • Jamie Kincaid
  • Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Saxonberg
From the Mixed-Up Files Characters

Example

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Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Themes, Symbols, & Motifs

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify a theme of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and support it with evidence from the text.

One theme is family. The main characters are brother and sister, and Saxonberg is their grandfather. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler becomes their honorary grandmother.

Three examples of evidence for this theme are:

  • "What happened was: they became a team, a family of two.There had been times before they ran away when they had acted like a team, but those were very different from feeling like a team."
  • "He must have thought STAY PUT exactly hard enough, for Claudia did just that.They never knew exactly why she did, but she did."
  • "Well Saxonberg, that's why I'm leaving the drawing of Angel to…your two lost grandchildren that you were so worried about. Since they intend to make me their grandmother, and you already are their grandfather, that makes us—oh, well, I won't even think about it."
From the Mixed-Up Files Theme

Example

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Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Vocabulary

In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words using a Frayer Model. After choosing a word, students provide a definition, characteristics, examples (synonyms), and non-examples (antonyms) of the word. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text.

This example uses the word "inconspicuous":

  • Definition: not noticeable, not prominent
  • Characteristics: Claudia shoves Jamie out of the way of a photographer; she knows they have to be inconspicuous so they won't get caught.
  • Examples: unobtrusive, camouflaged, concealed
  • Non-examples: exposed, noticeable, open
From the Mixed-Up Files Vocabulary

Example

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Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Point of View

In this activity, students will examine the author’s point of view and make inferences based on details from the text. There are three unique aspects in this text: periodically, the narrator speaks directly to Saxonberg; it is unclear who the narrator is until chapter eight; and the narrator ends up being one of the main characters in the story, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Text examples of each of these are:

  • "The game was nothing very complicated, Saxonberg...They played war, that simple game where each player puts down a card, and the higher card takes both."
  • "In fact when they emerged from the train at Grand Central...Claudia felt that having Jamie there was important."
  • And that, Saxonberg, is how I enter the story. Claudia and Jamie Kincaid came to see me about Angel.
From the Mixed-Up Files Point of View

Example

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Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Compare and Contrast

In this activity students will compare and contrast characters within the text. In this example, Claudia is compared to Jamie.

Claudia is a spender; she has a difficult time saving money and resisting nice things. Jamie is a saver; he would rather walk the distance to the museum then take a bus or worse, pay for a taxi.

Claudia is a planner; she plans out (almost) every detail of the runaway, including taking the train to New York City. Jamie is quick on his feet; when asked why he isn't in school, he instantly describes how his school was forced to cancel school because of a broken furnace.

Claudia wants to return home feeling different, like a heroine. Jamie simply likes running away for the adventure.

From the Mixed-Up Files Compare/Contrast

Example

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Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Textual Evidence


Copy Assignment



In this activity, students will be provided a question or prompt to answer using textual evidence. The prompt here is, “At the beginning of the novel Claudia feels like she is being taken for granted. How does she handle this situation?"

The three examples provided include:

  • "...she intended to return home after everyone had learned a lesson in Claudia appreciation..."
  • “Besides, once she made up her mind to go, she enjoyed the planning almost as much as she enjoyed spending money.”
  • "I've decided to run away from home, and I've chosen you to accompany me."
From the Mixed-Up Files Text Evidence

Example

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that answers the prompt using at least three examples from From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Click on "Add Cells" to change the number of examples.


  1. Type the question into the central black box.
  2. Think about examples from the text that support your answer.
  3. Type text evidence in the description boxes. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text.
  4. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, items, etc.


Text Evidence 3 Cell Spider

Example

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Prefer a different language?

•   (English) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (Español) De los Archivos Mezclados de la Señora Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (Français) D'après les Fichiers Mélangés de Mme Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (Deutsch) Aus den Mixed-Up Files von Frau Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (Italiana) Dal Mixed-Up File Della Signora Basilio E. Frankweiler   •   (Nederlands) Vanuit de Mixed-Up Files van Mevrouw Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (Português) Dos Arquivos Misturados da Sra. Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (עברית) מתוך מבולבלי קבצים של הגברת Basil E. Frankweiler   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) من مختلط الاحتياطي للملفات من السيدة باسل E. Frankweiler   •   (हिन्दी) श्रीमती तुलसी ई Frankweiler की मिश्रित अप फ़ाइलें से