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The Luckiest Time of All by Lucille Clifton

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey

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

Student Activities for Luckiest Time of All Include:

"The Luckiest Time of All” is a short story about a grandmother recalling how she and her husband met, in what could have been very unlucky circumstances. It is a sweet tale about luck and happenstance.

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 Luckiest Time of All” (Contains Plot Spoilers)

When Mrs. Elzie Pickens is visited by her granddaughter, she starts to tells how, when she was a young girl, she and a friend decided to run away with a travelling circus. They didn’t bother to tell anyone; they just packed up and left. Once they’d arrived, the two girls were almost immediately enthralled by a dancing dog. It was wearing a tutu and spinning in circles. Many onlookers threw pennies at the dog, as a reward. The girls joined in. Elzie accidentally tossed her “lucky” rock towards the dog, hitting it on the nose. She upset about losing the pebble, but is surprised when the dog begins chasing her. The lucky rock had seemingly caused a very unfortunate event.

However, a handsome young stranger lassos the dog, saving Elzie from it. The young man smiled, helped her retrieve her lucky rock, and followed Elzie and her friend home to make sure they were safe. Eventually Elzie married the nice young man, so even though there was a bit of bad luck in being chased by the dog, the pebble really did wind up bringing her luck and happiness in the long run.



Essential Questions for "The Luckiest Time of All”

  1. Is there such a thing as luck?
  2. What does it mean to be lucky?


Luckiest Time of All Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram | "The Luckiest Time of All" Summary


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. 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. Sometimes students will really have to think carefully about which events are major turning points in the plot.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-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, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example "The Luckiest Time of All" Plot Diagram

Exposition

Elzie Pickens, an elderly woman, sits in a rocking chair. Her great-granddaughter, Tee gives her some dogwood blossoms that remind Elzie about a story from her youth.


Conflict

Elzie and her friend, Ovella, ran away to a traveling show. They found a dog in a tutu dancing to music for pennies. Elzie accidentally throws her lucky stone at the dancing dog. The rock hit him on the nose!


Rising Action

The angry dog chases after her all over the grounds. Elzie runs as fast as she can to avoid being bitten. The crowd cheers for this new show.


Climax

A handsome young man lassos the the dog and saves Elzie. He also helps her look for her missing lucky stone.


Falling Action

After all the excitement, Elzie and Ovella decide not to join the traveling show and walk home. The young man who saved Elzie accompanies them back to make sure they reach home safely.


Resolution

Elzie reflects with Tee that hitting the dog with the stone seemed unlucky, but really led to Elzie meeting Amos Pickens, her future husband. It was truly the luckiest time of all.


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


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of "The Luckiest Time of All".


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



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





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"The Luckiest Time of All" Theme Activity

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard! In this activity, students will identify a specific theme from the short story, "The Luckiest Time of All", and support their choices with details from the text. In this example, the theme of "The Luckiest Time of All" is luck. Using a spider map and cells with description boxes, students show scenes from the story that illustrate "luck" or "luckiness."

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"Luckiest Time of All" Cause and Effect


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Most short stories contain some form of cause and effect. One thing happens, and it causes something else to happen in response. It can be something as simple as “the old woman offered the girl a perfect, red, shiny apple, so she ate it.” It could also be something more complicated, like “the girl had endured so much pain at the hands of her evil step-mother that she had a hard time trusting adults, even when she was one.”

"The Luckiest Time of All" contains a number of things one could argue changed Elzie’s life. She decided to go to the Silas Green Show. She stopped to watch the dancing dog. She hurled her lucky pebble at the dancing dog. All of these choices had consequences. Students should find an event in the story that caused something else to happen. Using a T-Chart, they should label the left side “Cause” and the right side “Effect”. Illustrating both the cause and its effect, students should use the description bars to detail how the first event put the second in motion.

(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 cause and effect relationships in "Luckiest Time of All". Each cause and effect pair will be shown in the same row.


  1. On the left side of the T-Chart, illustrate events that show cause (why).
  2. On the right side of the T-Chart, illustrate events that are the direct effect of that cause.
  3. Write a description below each cause.
  4. In the description under each effect, show how the cause and effect are related.



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





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Making Predictions in "The Luckiest Time of All"

Read the first few paragraphs of the story and chose one of the things that Great-Grandma Elzie tells Sweet Tee. Using a Grid Chart and cells with title boxes, illustrate the memory you’ve chosen in the first box. Think of two outcomes that might happen based on what you know of Elzie’s story. Once you’ve read the story, see if either of your predictions came to pass.

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•   (English) The Luckiest Time of All   •   (Español) El Momento más Afortunado de Todos   •   (Français) Le Temps le Plus Chanceux de Tous   •   (Deutsch) Die Glücklichste Zeit Aller Zeiten   •   (Italiana) I più Fortunati Tempo di All   •   (Nederlands) De Gelukkigste Tijd van Alle   •   (Português) O Momento Mais Feliz de Todos   •   (עברית) The Time המוצלח כל   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) في الوقت حظا من جميع   •   (हिन्दी) सभी के ललित समय का   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Самое Счастливое Время для Всех   •   (Dansk) Den Heldigste Tidspunkt for Alle   •   (Svenska) Den Lyckligaste tid av Alla   •   (Suomi) Onnekkain Ajoissa Kaikkia   •   (Norsk) Den Heldigste Tiden av Alle   •   (Türkçe) En Şanslı Zaman   •   (Polski) Najlżejszy Czas Wszystkich   •   (Româna) Timpul cel mai Norocos de Toate   •   (Ceština) Nejšťastnější Time of All   •   (Slovenský) Najšťastnejší čas Všetkých   •   (Magyar) A Legszerencsésebb idő az Összes   •   (Hrvatski) Najsretnije Vrijeme Svih   •   (български) Най-щастливото Време на Всички   •   (Lietuvos) Pats Laimingiausias Laikas Visi   •   (Slovenščina) Najsrečnejša Čas Vse   •   (Latvijas) Luckiest Laiks Visu   •   (eesti) Kõige Õnnelikum aeg Kõik