October 2026: The Million-Year Picnic
Content Standard Covered
Common Core Standards:
2.1, 3, 4
Learning Objectives
Students will understand setting
Students will identify descriptive language
Students will use descriptive language to describe a setting
Learning Activities (label each activity with an estimated amount of time)
Opening activity or Hook – grabbing student attention and establish relevance) 15 minutes
Have first two paragraphs of October 2026: The Million-Year Picnic by Ray Bradbury up on projector. Explain that we will be reading a short story set on Mars in the year 2026.
“We will be paying special attention to setting and tone, looking at how ray Bradbury writes in order to make us feel a certain way, and to make the story more interesting.”
Take a black dry erase marker and read through the first paragraphs aloud, noting and asking the students to note, any setting clues and descriptive language that could be eliminated if we were trying to make the shortest story and still make sense. Cross out all the noted words and phrases and then read through the paragraphs again. They should be merely a few short sentences now. Point out that it DOES tell the story, but it is boring, seems like a list of events, and really doesn’t give us all the clues that it gave us before.
“So let’s go back and look at those words we crossed out and see what exactly Ray Bradbury was telling us with them.”
Start at the beginning again and wipe off the black marker, analyzing the meaning of the descriptive language. Try to decipher, as a class, what kind of tone Bradbury is setting.
If a projector is unavailable, simply have the students follow along with their copies, highlighting rather than crossing out.
Activities and Methods (identify what the students and teacher will do) 25 minutes
Students will read the rest of The Million-Year Picnic individually, highlighting setting clues and tone-setting language as they go. Have photocopy of the text for each student.
Closing activity or Wrap-up (explain how the lesson objectives will be reinforced and brought to closure for the day) 10-20 minutes
Students will write about a specific setting of their choice (gym, mall, bedroom, movie theatre, etc.) and try to give clues by writing descriptive language (my shoes squeaked against the smooth floor as I ran, the cacophony of the people around me distracted from which combo was most appetizing at the moment) without giving away where they are. (No, “I lay down on my soft bed”). Tell students to try not to make it too easy to figure out, but the descriptive clues should make it possible to figure out eventually.
Students will write a prologue to “The Million-Year Picnic” using descriptive language, carrying on in the style of Ray Bradbury.
Students can draw a picture of some kind of setting and label different areas of the picture with possible descriptive phrases.
Homework (may not be applicable)
Finish descriptive setting assignment
(label with the lesson objectives that they measure; each objective should be measured)
Formative- descriptive setting assignment
Projector sheet, projector, dry erase marker, enough copies of story for all students.