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Esperanza’s World – Teachers Guide – Part One

Esperanza’s World – Teachers Guide – Part One


Part One – In Town

Lesson Two Summary:

This lesson will focus on reading comprehension, character analysis, Hispanic cultural traits and early Tucson.   Students will also review definitions of figurative language and look for its frequent use in the story.

Time: Two  35 – 45 minute periods

Arizona Academic Standards:
Strand 1: Reading Process

Lesson Two
Chapters 1, 2, 3
Lesson Objectives:
1. Students will identify examples of figurative language: personification, simile, and metaphor in Chapters 1, 2, and 3.
2. Students will analyze book characters and their relationships with Esperanza.
3. Students will assess Esperanza’s expected behaviors as a girl in the Hispanic culture of the 1870s using specific evidence from the book.
4. Students will categorize information shared in the book about Arizona of the 1870s.

Lesson Guiding Questions:
1. What types of imagery does the author use in the story?
2. How does Esperanza, the main character, relate to other characters in the story? 
3. How are wants and needs addressed by Esperanza’s Hispanic culture in 1870s Tucson?
4. What behaviors are expected of Esperanza, as a girl, in her Hispanic culture?


  • individual student book journal notebooks or portfolios
  • class set of Esperanza Means Hope
  • sticky notes packets
  • poster or paper copies of “Essential questions” and “Habits of Mind”
  • vocabulary lists
  • comprehension questions and writing prompts
  • learning center activities (optional)

Mini-Lesson – Figurative Language and Imagery Techniques:

Discuss writers’ use of figurative language to enhance their writing. Use examples from Esperanza to illustrate the definitions.   Students will identify figurative language and imagery located in subsequent chapters as they read the novel.  Use the icons to help students remember the definitions.

personification – making a non-living thing appear to have human qualities or abilities
1. “Because they (the trees) sing every summer as soon as it gets hot.”  (p.5)
2. The bag of money had fallen out of the hole where Esperanza had stuffed it.  There it sat in a fat heap on the ground, as if accusing them. (p.23)

simile – a comparison of nouns (people, places, things) usually considered different using the words “like” or “as”
1.Even years later, Esperanza remembered the sharp feeling in her heart when Mamá said those words – as if a water jug had cracked apart, spilling its precious contents on the ground.

metaphor – a comparison of one thing to another without using “like” or “as”; the metaphor states that something is something else that it is not

imagery – words that form mental pictures or images in the reader’s mind

  1. Esperanza’s heart pounded so loudly that she thought it would fly out of her chest. (X)
  2. A scream rose in her throat, where it stopped with a choking gurgle. (X)
  3. The eastern sky suddenly brightened as they ran up Meyer Street. (p.21)

Character Analysis:
Esperanza, María Elena, Papá, Tío Francisco, Ramón, (Jack Smalley) Bowler Hat and (Bucky) Red Beard

Activity: Who Am I?

Teacher orally gives students descriptions of characters; students name the character.  For example:

excellent cook and seamstress
good student
16 years old
tattles on and fights with Esperanza
female cousin
Who: María Elena

Review of Ways of Cultures – Essential Questions:In what ways are all cultures similar? How do people of different cultures contribute to each other’s lives? 

Focus on Understanding Hispanic Culture
expectations of girls – embroidery, tortilla-making, guitar playing
games – clay marbles in cotton bags, horse racing
celebrations/holidays – San Juan’s Day
foods – tortillas, chili, mesquite smoke
religion – Catholic, rosary beads, St Joseph’s Academy for Young Ladies, white dress and gauzy head covering,
clothing –(leather clothes chest) high top black shoes with rows of buttons on the side, cotton shawl, sandals
housing – adobe with narrow wooden doors and windows, dirt floors, Palo Verde trees, alleys, outhouses, ocotillo fences, chickens, dogs, ramadas, cots,
towns – San Agustín Cathedral, wagons, ox-carts, horses, mayor,  corrals, adobe horses, shops and stores
language – (appendix)
olla, Tío, mi’ja, niña, chicharrita, Qué rico, ocotillo, loca, ramada, comal, mi amor, Fantástico, Dios mío, Qué suerte, Cállate, No comprendo, Qué pasa, Vamos a casa,
other – cicadas

Reading Comprehension – Differentiated Questions:
Why Trees Sing – Chapter One
Basic: Knowledge, Comprehension
1. When and where is the opening scene of the book?
2. Describe Esperanza’s embroidery efforts.
Intermediate: Application, Analysis
3. Compare and contrast Esperanza with her cousin, María Elena.
4. Why is Esperanza like a poet according to Tío Francisco?  Contrast Esperanza’s relationship with her uncle to her relationship with her father.
Advanced: Synthesis, Evaluation
5. Assess Esperanza’s need to use her imagination rather than being practical.  Predict how this personality trait impacts her life.
6. Evaluate Esperanza’s relationship with Pinto and Ramón, both before and after Nana arrives, armed with a wooden spoon, to whisk her away from the game.

Burnt Tortillas and People with Tails – Chapter Two
Basic: Knowledge, Comprehension
1.  Explain how Mamá surprises both Esperanza and María Elena.
2.  Describe Esperanza’s solution to getting rid of María Elena’s suitor, Pedro Salazar.
Intermediate: Application, Analysis
3. Summarize the many occasions in the chapter in which Esperanza is reminded of how she, as a girl, should behave and think.
4.  Relate Mamá’s philosophy about love.
Advanced: Synthesis, Evaluation
5. Why do you think María Elena points out her cousin’s shortcomings every chance she gets?  How do you account for María Elena’s unkind actions?
6. In this chapter, you learn more possible scenarios of what might have happened to Carlos through Esperanza’s thinking about him.  What can you determine about Esperanza’s overall feelings concerning Apaches based on her thoughts at this point in the story?

Bowler Hat and Red Beard – Chapter Three
Basic: Knowledge, Comprehension
1. Describe Esperanza’s school clothes.
2. What does Pinto want to buy with the coin he finds in Gallego’s corral?  Why does this make sense?
Intermediate: Application, Analysis
3. Relate how the three friends – Pinto, Ramón and Esperanza – are able to quickly hide the reason they are in the corral, that is, until the bag of money drops.
4. Distinguish between the actions of the boys compared to Esperanza’s actions in their exchanges with the Anglo men and with their ultimate escape.
Advanced: Synthesis, Evaluation
5. Why do you think that Esperanza is always finding herself in difficult situations?  Why wasn’t it surprising that she hears her school dress rip as she jumps from the adobe wall?
6. In your opinion, why is an outhouse a good place to hide? Predict who is creaking open the outhouse door? Give the reasons for your prediction.

Writing Prompt:

  • Describe some of Esperanza’s admirable (likeable) traits.  How is she like or unlike you or other girls (women) you know.
  • Compare Esperanza with her cousin, María Elena.  Do you have a similar relationship with a member of your family?  If so, explain how and why.

Who Am I?
Reading Comprehension Questions
Discovering Figurative Language Examples
Writing Prompt

Assign Reading for Next Lesson
Read Chapters 4, 5, 6

The teacher would follow the same lesson format for the remaining chapters.  The following reading assignment sequence may work nicely.

Chapters 1, 2, 3
Chapters 4, 5, 6
Chapters 7, 8
Chapters 9, 10
Chapters 11, 12
Chapters 13, 14
Chapters 15, 16
Chapters 17, 18, 19
Chapters 20, 21
Chapters 22, 23

plot – story line; events in a story arranged in a particular sequence or pattern; can be retold in an abbreviated format with a beginning, middle and end

character – a person, animal or (personified) object in a story

setting – time and/or place of a story

conflict – plot tension (problem) or buildup of suspense in a story

conflict resolution – occurs when an answer to a conflict or a problem is found

point-of-view –  angle of narrator of a story

  • first-person POV
    • Told from one character’s viewpoint
    • Action of the story and the feelings of the characters limited to the narrator’s knowledge
    • Uses personal pronouns I, my, mine, etc.
  • third-person POV
    • Told from an outside viewpoint (not a character in the story)
    • Narrator  describes everything that is happening, often even telling what some characters are thinking
    • Used most often by authors

revenge –


Parts of a Story Review Game

Directions: Pair students with partners.Cut chart into pieces and place pieces in an envelope.  Have student pairs arrange the pieces under the correct story part heading. While it isn’t necessary to match them correctly horizontally, the task may provide an additional challenge for some students.




Plot Summary




Setting: Time and /or Place

Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the grey spider, Fern Arable, and Templeton, the rat A story of friendship   between a pig and a life saving spider. Wilbur is told he will be killed and eaten for Christmas dinner. cellar of Zuckerman’s barn and the county fair
Stanley Buggles, Mrs. Carelli, the housekeeper and Stanley, the stuffed fish a young boy inherits a house in a mysterious and unusual fishing village At night a horn sounds and all of the town’s people hurry home and lock their doors for fear of werewolves. the seaside town of Crampton Rock in the summer
Willy, Grandfather, Searchlight the dog, and Stone Fox, a Shoshone Indian A grandson enters a dog sled race hoping to win money to pay his grandfather’s tax debt. Willy has only one dog to use in the race and his main rival has five dogs. National Dog Sled Race in Wyoming and a potato farm
Chester Cricket, Tucker Mouse, Harry Cat, and Mario Bellini A tale of friendship and adventures between a boy and his pet cricket and the cricket’s friends. Chester accidentally eats the Bellini’s money and sets fire to the newsstand. New York City: subway, Times Square, Bellini’s newsstand
Billy, Alan, Tom and Joe


A boy is challenged by his best friend to eat 15 worms in 15 days for $50.00. Billy’s friends make a fake worm out of beans to fool him and win the bet. summer vacation in a small town
Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie; Professor Kirke, the White Witch, and Aslan, the lion Four siblings enter the land of Narnia through a closet wardrobe and experience a different world.  Edmund betrays his siblings in order to get Turkish Delight, chocolate, from the White Witch. the London countryside during WWII and the magical land of Narnia
Beezus and Ramona Quimby An older sister is upset daily by the antics of her younger sister. Ramona destroys Beesuz’ birthday cakes. a neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
Allison, Calvin, D.J., Sue, Todd, Benjamin, Mrs. Gorf and Mrs. Jewl 30 students attend a strange school where unusual happenings are normal.  Mrs. Gorf is tricked into turning herself into an apple; he son, seeks revenge. Wayside School; Mrs. Gorf’s and Mrs. Jewl’s classroom on the 30th floor

Key – Parts of a Story

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
Wooden Mile: Something Wickedly Weird Vol. 1 – Chris Mould
Stone Fox – John Gardiner
The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden
How to eat Fried Worms – Thomas Rockwell
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis
Beezus and Ramona – Beverly Cleary
Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar

Vocabulary Key

Word Word in Context Sentences Word Clues to Meaning/
Definition in Own Words
embroidery– (p.4)


“She tried to focus on the embroidery in her lap, but the design didn’t seem to be coming out right.” held it on her lap
designs on it

decorative designs sewn with a needle and thread on cloth

scowled – (p.4) “Esperanza scowled at her cousin, then at the wooden frame in her lap.” is an action word

to look angrily at

serenade – (p.4) “Annoying young men hung around the house in the evening to serenade María Elena under her window because she was pretty and charming.” under her window
pretty and charming
young men

to sing a love song

flared (p.5) “The buzzing in the trees began again, a whine that rose and flared to a high pitch before slowly dying away.” Is an action word

to burn suddenly and brightly; outburst

parasol (p.12) “Mamá sat next to him, holding a white parasol over her head.” Mamá holds it over her head

a type of umbrella that shades the sun

smug (p.13) “Esperanza wanted to kick that smug María Elena.” Esperanza is angry at her cousin

showing a sense of superiority or of being stuck-up

sulked (p.14) “Esperanza sulked, pushing the food around in her bowl, imagining all the horrible things that could happen to María Elena.” Is an action word


to feel moody or angry or to feel sorry for oneself

corset (p.14) “She opened the leather trunk she’d brought, pulled out a dress, some undergarments, and a white corset and laid them on the bed.” related to other objects in the trunk, which is clothes


stiff undergarment that slims and shapes the body

mercantile (p. 15) “He ran a successful freighting and mercantile business that made him one of the wealthiest men in town.” describes a kind of business

business in the trade of selling goods

exquisite (p.15) “It is exquisite, Tiá Dolores!” a word that describes (it)


extraordinarily beautiful

wrenched (p.23) “Esperanza wrenched open the gate, allowing Ramón and Pinto to escape, then she slammed it in the men’s faces.” has something to do with opening


to pull and twist something


Definitions for Question Discussions and Reviews
~synonyms – payback, settling of scores,

~an account of what has happened; often includes who was responsible for events and why they happened

historical fiction genre

prologue –

Lessons Three and Four:

Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7  
Knowledge and Skills
~Figurative Language Identification and Use
~Reading Comprehension
~Vocabulary Building
~Parts of a story – setting, characters
~Analysis of characters’ actions
~Writing reflections and responses
~Geography – AZ Indian Reservations then and now; Southern Pacific RR/Butterfield Stations
~Use of precise words in writing – verbs

~International flavor of Tucson
~Historic Tucson families – Ochoas and the Hughes
~Public versus private school educations
~Formal dress of men and women
~Wealthy Tucson families
~Ice cream
~San Xavier Mission
~Papago – Tohono O’odham
~Papago stories – coyote and quail
~Soap making – lard vs. yucca plant root
~San Juan’s Day
~Feral dog packs
~Horse racing

Lesson Five:

Chapters 8, 9, 10
Knowledge and Skills
~Figurative Language Identification and Use
~Reading Comprehension
~Vocabulary Building
~Writing reflections and responses
~Parts of a story – setting, characters, plot, conflict
~Analysis of characters’ actions – Papá changes; Mariá Elena and Esperanza’s changing relationship
~Writing reflections and responses
~History of U.S. gaining southeastern AZ – Mexican Independence; Mexican War; Gadsden Purchase
~Writing correct dialogue using quotation marks
~Primary source documents – AZ Newspaper articles about Apaches

~1876 U.S. Centennial/1976 Bi-Centennial; relate to current AZ Centennial 2012
~Mercantile stores in Tucson; economics
~Making tortillas; recipes; mano and metate
~Parades and fireworks
~Lt. McKinnley and soldiers in AZ
~Kidnapped children today – Amber Alerts; milk cartons and billboards
~Tucson attitudes about Apaches