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The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Teacher Guide by Heidi Deck

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Elementary School Category!

Student Activities for The Mouse and the Motorcycle Include:

This classic, best-selling novel is perfect for a read aloud in Grade 2 or for independent readers in Grades 3-4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle is Beverly Cleary’s first in a series of books starring Ralph the mouse. Ralph’s life changes when Keith, a young boy on summer vacation, checks in to the Mountain View hotel where Ralph and his family live. Ralph immediately notices that Keith has brought a shiny toy motorcycle – just the right size for a mouse. After trying to ride it and ending up in a wastebasket, Keith teaches Ralph how to run the motorcycle by making an engine noise, and the adventures begin! The intricate plot and delightful characters make this book a fun read that students of many ages are sure to love.

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




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A Quick Synopsis of The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Contains Plot Spoilers)

Ralph the mouse lives with his family under the knothole in room 215 of the Mountain View Inn. His days at the run down motel in the Sierra Nevada of California are boring and he longs for a life of adventure. Things begin to look up when a boy named Keith and his family comes to stay in room 215. Ralph quickly notices that Keith has a shiny toy motorcycle, and he knows that he is destined to ride it.

Ralph can’t contain his curiosity. Ignoring his mother’s warnings, he scurries up a telephone cord to get a closer look. To his dismay, he cannot figure out how to get the motorcycle to run. The phone rings and startles Ralph. He falls into a wastebasket with his beloved motorcycle.

Soon enough, Keith discovers his missing motorcycle, along with Ralph, in the wastebasket. The mouse and child speak the same language, and quickly become fond of each other. Keith teaches Ralph that he only has to make an engine noise “pb-b-b-b” to make the motorcycle run. Although Ralph’s mother worries about him talking to humans, Keith lets Ralph ride the motorcycle to his heart's content, though only at night, so no one will see him. One night, Keith’s mother, who is terrified of mice, spots Ralph and reports the sighting to management. Ralph’s family is in danger, as the hotel begins looking more closely for mice.

Unable to resist riding the motorcycle during the daytime, Ralph almost gets sucked up by a maid’s vacuum cleaner, and barely escapes – riding the motorcycle into a pile of dirty linens. He has to chew his way out, and can’t manage to save himself and the motorcycle. Feeling guilty and irresponsible, he returns to his mouse hole – too ashamed to face Keith.

Keith forgives Ralph for losing his motorcycle, but loses trust in him. He continues to bring room service to the colony of mice, who are laying low after management discovered the chewed through sheets. One night, Keith becomes very ill with a fever, and Ralph is determined to regain his trust! Ignoring his family’s warnings, he sets off to search the hotel for an aspirin tablet. His mission becomes a dangerous one – he gets stuck under a glass cup, ventures outside the hotel where owls could easily eat him, gets chased by a dog, and finally comes up with a plan to bring Keith’s toy ambulance down to the first floor to retrieve the aspirin.

When Ralph succeeds in bringing Keith the aspirin, he redeems himself, restoring Keith’s health, and the boy's trust in him. Keith’s vacation is nearing an end, but he agrees to let Ralph keep his motorcycle, which is found by the kind bellboy. After Keith leaves, Ralph uses the space under the TV set as a garage, and the motorcycle is his to keep!


Essential Questions for The Mouse and the Motorcycle

  1. What responsibilities does your family trust you with? Why do they trust you?
  2. What can you do to earn the trust of those around you?
  3. If you could go on any adventure, what would it be?
  4. What qualities are important to you in a friendship?

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Summary


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In Grades 2-4, students are beginning to transition from the reading level of retelling a book orally, to summarizing lengthier texts orally and in writing. This skill can be challenging with chapter books, because students have to synthesize many details, and think critically about the importance of events. A plot diagram storyboard provides students with a way to organize their thinking and improve their summarization skills.



Consider having students plan their storyboard using a blank template prior to creating the full storyboard online. Students should begin with the narrative in each box before adding character dialogue. This will allow them to focus on the purpose of summarizing, and determining importance, before getting distracted by the details of the storyboard. Students can also be given a set number of frames to use for the storyboard, to help them be concise. After planning on a template, students can compare the important events they chose with a partner, and the class can discuss why different events in the story were included in the storyboard over others.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Plot Diagram

Example

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


Student Instructions

Create a visual summary of The Mouse and the Motorcycle.


  1. Pick two important events from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  2. Create an image for each event.
  3. Write a description of each event.



BME - 2 Events

Example

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





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The Mouse and the Motorcycle Character Map Graphic Organizer


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In this activity, students can create a character map of the characters in Mouse and the Motorcycle. They can describe physical and personality traits, and provide textual evidence for those traits. This storyboard can also be modified to include character motivations, or to show how characters change or interact with each other in the story.

Here is an example of a character map storyboard:

The Mouse and Motorcycle Character Map

Example

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


Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.


  1. Identify the major characters in The Mouse and the Motorcycle and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a Storyboard That character to represent each of the book characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the Textables for Physical Traits and Character Traits.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


Blank Character Map

Example

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





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The Mouse and the Motorcycle Character Traits


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This activity allows for a more in-depth look at character traits. Students will need to provide textual evidence to support the character trait they choose. Students can support their idea with dialogue, thoughts, or actions of the character they are portraying. They can also use a character map to compare different characters.

Example character traits for characters in The Mouse and the Motorcycle:

  • Keith: Kind, adventurous, thoughtful
  • Ralph the Mouse: Adventurous, courageous, daring, irresponsible, honest

Here is an example of a character trait storyboard:

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Character Traits

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 shows one character traits for characters from The Mouse and the Motorcycle.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify one character trait for each character.
  3. Make pictures that show examples each trait.
  4. Give textual evidence to support the traits you chose.


Character Traits Template

Example

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





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The Mouse and the Motorcycle Compare & Contrast Beverly Cleary Books

The third grade standard for "compare and contrast" is focused on comparing two different books by the same author about the same or similar characters. The Mouse and the Motorcycle is part of a series of books about Ralph, so it presents a perfect opportunity to practice this standard. Students can choose to compare The Mouse and the Motorcycle with Runaway Ralph or Ralph S. Mouse. They can compare the theme, setting, plot, or all of the above.

Here is an example of a storyboard comparing the setting in both books:

The Mouse and the Motorcycle Compare & Contrast

Example

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The Mouse and the Motorcycle Vocabulary Lesson Plan


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Despite being a relatable story, The Mouse and the Motorcycle is full of complex vocabulary. This storyboard will allow students to use context clues from the book to depict their understanding of the rich text. They can also depict the meaning of the words without words, or use the words in another context. Here is an example of a visual vocabulary board with words from Chapter One.


  • critically
  • quaint
  • heap
  • croquet
  • protest
  • vacancy
  • antimacassar
The Mouse and the Motorcycle Vocabulary

Example

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


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in The Mouse and the Motorcycle by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



Vocabulary Template Blank

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) The Mouse and the Motorcycle   •   (Español) El Ratón y la Motocicleta   •   (Français) La Souris et la Moto   •   (Deutsch) Die Maus und das Motorrad   •   (Italiana) Il Mouse e la Moto   •   (Nederlands) De Muis en de Motorcycle   •   (Português) O Rato e a Motocicleta   •   (עברית) עכבר האופנוע   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الماوس والدراجات النارية   •   (हिन्दी) माउस और मोटरसाइकिल