Eleanor Roosevelt: Godmother To The World Study Guide

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Written and performed by Cathy Kaemmerlen, www.tattlingtales.com 

SS5H3a, SS5H4, SSH4f, ELAGSE5SL1, TAES5.8b, TAES5.11

Program Description 

This program is a one-woman portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life and evolution from ugly duckling and neglected child into one of the ten most influential people of the twentieth century, designed to coordinate with the third grade social studies curriculum. Using authentic slides as a backdrop, and twenty third graders to play figures in Eleanor’s life and reporters at her press conferences as First Lady, Eleanor will come to life from childhood, through her period as our most controversial first lady, and as Human Rights Ambassador to the UN, using her own words for speeches she gave, radio broadcasts, and examples from her MY DAY newspaper column.  Known as the godmother to the world, Eleanor’s words of wisdom ring true as she says, “You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.”  Students will be given an authentic quote, words of wisdom from Eleanor to take with them as they leave.

Artist Bio
Cathy Kaemmerlen, author, professional actress, and storyteller, is known for her variety of characters, one-woman shows, and for bringing historical characters and events to life.  A performer and “creator of shows” since she can remember, she has toured in schools coast to coast, since receiving a BA in English/elementary education from UNC-Charlotte, and a MFA in dance performance/choreography/theatre at the University of Wisconsin.  She tours Tattlingtales Productions, the Georgia and South Carolina Touring Arts Rosters, Teaching Museums of Fulton County, and has received numerous grants and honors, including Outstanding New Interpreter for her region with the NationalAssociation of Interpreters.  Author of four books.

Background of Art Form
Telling stories is an oral tradition, dating back to when mankind first developed a language or form of communication.  Storytelling is a universal way of passing down information to be saved and remembered for generations to come.  It is an interactive art form in which the storytellers’ passion for the story, material, and information is passed on to the audience, who sorts through, stores, and synthesizes what is heard.

Prepare:  Teachers, please read this to your students.

Students, today we are going to have a performance by an actress/storyteller and author who will be portraying Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the shakers and movers we study about in the third grade.  We will see Eleanor evolve from an ugly duckling into our nation’s most outspoken and controversial first lady, into an ambassador to the newly formed United Nations where she was chairperson of the committee to write the United Nation’s charter on human rights.  The charter reads:  all the world should be founded upon the four essential human freedoms:  freedom of speech and expression; freedom to worship God in each individual’s own way; freedom from want; and freedom from fear.  Eleanor was always an advocate for the underdog and the underprivileged.  She was called the Godmother to the World.

Warm up Questions to set the stage for engaging students and questions to reflect on

–What do you think made Eleanor emerge as the butterfly, stepping out of the shadow of her husband and mother in law and into a woman speaking her own mind?

–Do you think Eleanor influenced her husband, Franklin?

–Do you think it was hard for Eleanor to become who she was when she was told she was ugly and not particularly gifted?

–Is it a first lady’s place to have strong opinions on public policy?

–Do you think Eleanor overstepped her boundaries?

–How do you think Eleanor made a difference in our country and in the world?

–What made Eleanor so successful?

–Discuss the meaning of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote you were given at the end of the show.

–Do you think Eleanor Roosevelt was an effective First Lady?

Vocabulary to review before the show–the Great Depression: a severe worldwide economic meltdown in the decade preceding World War 11.  –tenement housea dwelling house for renting, especially one divided into separate apartments or tenements for families and usually occupied by the poorer classes.–the United Nations:  an international organization whose aim is to for all its members to cooperate in international law, security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace. –infantile paralysis: polio; a disease characterized y motor paralysis and muscular atrophy, often producing permanent deformities–on the stump: campaigning and making speeches for political office
–the New Deal:  a series of economic programs proposed during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to our Great Depression, utilizing relief, recovery, and reform to bring our economy back to normal levels.–unemployment:  a state in which people are not employed and are having difficulty finding jobs–mocked: treated with scorn or contempt; ridiculed–agenda: items to be done or tackled –segregation:  act of separating; in US history before the Civil Rights Movement, this was a way to separate blacks and whites–mediocre:  ordinary; not special–unprecedented:  never before done or accomplished–Stalin:  leader of Russia during World War 11

–Adolf Hitler:  leader of the Nazi Party in Germany during World War 11.

Warm Up Questions for meeting the Georgia Performance Standards for “Listening/Speaking/Viewing”Describe the perfect audience.
What are some of our class rules for being good listeners?
How do we show someone we appreciate their visit to our school or classroom?
How does being part of an audience help make you a good citizen?
What are some examples of bad audience behavior or attitudes?
How does a negative audience member effect your enjoyment of a show or performance?
How would this make the performer feel?
How do we want the performer to feel when they leave our school or classroom?


MYDAYcolumns by Eleanor Roosevelt found atwww.gwu.edu/~erpapers/myday/displaydoc.cfm?_y=193

Eroosevelt.org/courage/items/show/3:  footage of Eleanor

Human Rights:  A Documentary on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights by Folkways Records, interviewing Eleanor Roosevelt

DEAR MRS. ROOSEVELT:  Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt through Depression and War edited by Cathy D. Knepper, Ph.D, Carroll and Graf Publishers, c2004.

WHAT I HOPE TO LEAVE BEHIND:  The Essential Essays of Eleanor Roosevelt, Carlson Publishing, c.1995

DEAR MRS. ROOSEVELT:  Letters from Children of the Great Depression, edited by Robert Cohen, University of N.C. Press, c.2002.

ELEANOR AND FRANKLIN by Joseph P. Lash, Signet Classics, c.1971.

THE ROOSEVELT WOMEN by Betty Boyd Caroli, Basic Books, c.1998.


FRANKLIN AND ELEANOR:  An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, c.2010.

THE WHITE HOUSE MYSTERIES, An Eleanor Roosevelt Mystery, by Elliott Roosevelt, St. Martin’s Press, c.1987.

Footage of Eleanor Roosevelt is available on YouTube.

Some memorable words of Eleanor Roosevelt:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.”“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”“Do what you feel is right in your heart.  You will be criticized anyway.”“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do think of you.” “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”    “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” “Learn from the mistakes of others.  You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” “You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”  “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”“One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”
“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” “No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.” “Life is what you make it.  Always has been, always will be.” “To handle yourself, use your head: to handle others, use your heart.” “The choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” “What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?” “Never mistake knowledge for wisdom.  One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.” “When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.” “One thing life has taught me, you never have to look for new interests.  They come to you.” “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” “Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure.”“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do…” “No one won the last war and no one will win the next war.” “It isn’t enough to talk about peace.  One must believe in it.  And it isn’t enough to believe in it.  One must work at it.”  “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously.  This is how character is built.” “A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping-stone to the optimist.” “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”“As for accomplishments, I just did what I had to do as things came along.”

GPS:  SS3H2a&b; SS32G2a,b,c; SS5H5a&b; SS5H6f

Reflection post performance: 
Why is Eleanor such a role model for all of us?  Can one person make a difference?  Why or why not?