Students will:

  • Identify the different types of symbolism in America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven
  • Identify the cause and effect relationship in the story
  • Understand the significance of POWs (Prisoners of War) and MIAs (Missing in Action)
SixthCitizenship, Patriotism

60 minutes

Materials Needed:

Introductory Activity:
Read America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven. Advise the students to take notes on the symbolism in the story, paying special attention to the specific colors and items mentioned.

Whole Group Activity:
Have students share examples of the symbolism they noticed in the story (the upside-down cup, the red rose, the white tablecloth, salt and lemon, the empty chair, the black napkin, the table, and the candle).

After allowing time for discussion and making sure that all eight symbols have been mentioned, pass our one symbolism flashcard to each student. Place them on their desks upside down, and instruct the students to leave them that way until they are told otherwise.

Explain that the flash cards represent the eight symbols and that each students has either a picture card or a definition flashcard. Tell students they can flip their cards and stand up and walk around the room until they have found someone with the picture or definition that matches theirs.

Small Group Activity:
Once the students have found their matching symbol and definition, they should sit with their partner.

Each student will receive the Cause and Effect Graphic Organizer. Working with their partners, they will fill out their graphic organizers. They should start with the main event (the middle box), then complete the cause side of the chart (left boxes) and the effect side of the chart (right boxes).

If desired, the entire class can work together to identify the main event before partner groups work together to identify the causes and effects.

Concluding Activity:
Lead a class discussion about America’s White Table and how the story relates to citizenship and patriotism.

Class participation, graphic organizer

Extended Activities:
As the class reads America’s White Table, point out that the lyrics to “America” appear at the bottom of the book. Have students study the lyrics, looking for symbolism and figurative language. Students should write an essay about their findings.

Create a poster, reader’s theatre or another type of visual image that represents POWs or MIAs.