Classroom set of A River Ran Wild by Lynne Cherry
Classroom set of Project Citizen books
Classroom sets of graphic organizers
Posters, rulers, crayons, construction papers, etc. for posters and signs
  • Identify the impact that pollution had on the people and places along the Nashua River;
  • Describe public policy and how it can be used to solve community problems; and
  • Compare and contrast the sequence of events in the story with the steps involved in completing Project Citizen.

Exploration/ Introduction:


Before the Lesson:
1. Develop a list of words from A River Ran Wild for word study and word wall (quench, pulp, grist, Industrial Revolution, etc.)
2. Choose and prepare some additional activities to do after reading the book.
• Conduct an author/illustrator study of Lynne Cherry.
• Working in pairs, ask students to complete a Sequencing Graphic Organizer for A River Ran Wild.
• Workings in teams of three or four, have students complete a Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer.
• Conduct a class discussion on what is and what is not public policy.
• Using the Library Media Center or a computer, have students conduct research on the Nashua River, the Nashua River
Watershed Association, and the Clean Water Act.
• Present a lesson on persuasive letter writing.
• Students write letters to the paper mills explaining why they should stop dumping waste into the Nashua River.
• Students create posters and signs protesting pollution of the Nashua River
Lesson Procedures:
1. Review the vocabulary you selected for your class.
2. Conduct a shared reading of A River Ran Wild. (Be sure to read the Author’s Notes.)
3. Discussion questions • What would daily life be like along the Nashua River if concerned citizens had not taken action to clean up the river?
• How did the Native Americans treat the land and the Nashua River?
• What impact did the Industrial Revolution have on the Nashua River?
• Who were Marion Stoddard and Oweana and why are they important to the Nashua River?
• What role did citizens participation play in the history of the Nashua River?
4. Working as whole group and teams, have the class conduct a mini Project Citizen based on the problems, events, and community activities in A River Ran Wild. (Use the Project Citizen book as a guide through the process.)
• Identify the problem and write a problem statement.
• Identify any existing policies that were in place to deal with the problem.
• Did the citizens in the book propose a specific public policy to deal with the problem?
• Identify the steps taken by the citizens to influence government. What was their action plan?
Sample persuasive letter writing rubric
Sample research rubric for middle school students
Student reflection on the lesson and activities using pages 53–55 in the Project Citizen book.