A Family Apart

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The Orphan Train saga begins in 1856 in New York City where Mrs. Kelly, a young widow, realizes that she cannot give her six children the life they deserve. Mrs. Kelly makes the ultimate sacrifice of love and sends them west on the orphan train to fred better lives with new families. The children, especially thirteen-year-old Frances Mary, feel an overwhelming sense of betrayal and abandonment.Their arrival in St. Joseph, Missouri, separates the children not only from their mother, but from each other as well. One by one they are adopted by western families -- some looking for children to love, others only seeking cheap labor. Frances has promised Ma that she will look after Petey, her youngest brother, no matter what. When she masquerades as a boy, "Frankie's" adventures eventually involve her in the activities of the Underground Railroad. Will honoring Ma's request help Frances understand that splitting up the family was really her mother's act of love?
Curriculet Details
40 Questions
41 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 5th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining foreshadowing, simile and theme. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about personification and historical references. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of vocabulary, character development, and plot. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1

Why does Jennifer react to the photo? 
Homeless and orphaned children were sent to southern states on the Orphan Train in hopes of being adopted.  (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 2

Notice how Frances stands taller and presents herself differently. Keep track of how her appearance compares to her intelligence.  
Why does Mr. Waterfield assume Frances cannot read? 
What does Frances's point of view reveal about how she is treated based on her appearance?  
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. 
Explain how the highlighted statement also plays a part in Frances's current situation. Use examples from the text to support your response.  
Comparing her tears to sharp claws is an example of a simile. A simile is a comparison that uses the words "like" or "as."  (This annotation contains a video)
Notice the lessons Frances is learning at such a young age. Her perseverance is a major emerging theme. Keep track of how it evolves.  
If Frances had money to spend, what would she be able to buy at a haberdashery?  

Chapter 3

Mike is referring to areas in the United States that hadn't been developed yet. People travelled to these areas for cheap land and for the adventure.  (This annotation contains an image)
"The guilt on Danny's face was as thick as jam," is an example of ________. 
Cat's cradle is a game that involves weaving string through your hands and creating designs.  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the description of the boys Mike was seen with, where do you think Frances thinks Mike got the knife? 
This statement is an example of personification.  (This annotation contains a video)
Compare how Mike has decided to provide for his family to how Frances has approached their misfortune. Use examples from the text to support your response.  
How has the death of their father affected Mike?  
Notice the change in Mike's body language. Keep track of how both Mike and Frances react to each obstacle they are faced with.  

Chapter 4

Notice the tone of the message and the purpose Ma has in saying this to Frances. Based on what you know about Ma, why do you think she is asking Frances to help her? 
Explain why Frances tries to convince herself that Mike would be better off out West.  
Ma is calling attention to the fact that the judge would rather send Mike to a jail cell for his crimes instead of offering him a new start.  
Explain the effect Mike's arrest had on Ma, and her reasoning for sending all of the children to new homes.  
Compare Frances's reaction to being sent West to Ma's feelings about sending the children away. Use evidence from the text to support your response. 
Frances does not have enough life experience to understand that Ma is sending them away because it is the only way to ensure they will have happy and healthy lives. Ma does this because she loves the children, but for Frances it feels like abandonment.  
Chapters 1-4 Quiz 

Chapter 5

Frances is realizing that the children will be chosen by families which means that they may not be able to stay together.  
Explain why Frances is planning on dressing like a boy. What is she trying to accomplish? 
Explain the significance of Frances choosing to disguise herself as a boy.  
Notice how Frances is sad to not have a new dress and is sacrificing her own happiness for her family. Frances is modeling Ma's thinking and perseverance in her attempt to keep Petey with her.  
Frances is embracing the responsibility of her siblings and is acting like a parent. Even though she doesn't understand why Ma sent them away, Frances is able to stay strong and accept the task of keeping everyone happy.  
What does Frances still not understand about Ma's decision to send them West? 
Explain how this statement illustrates a change in perspective for Frances. How has the tone of her daydreams changed? 

Chapter 6

Notice how the adults react to the children and their purpose on the train. Why would the man assume they are all criminals? Keep track of how this assumption follows the children out West.  
Look at the picture below to see a hoopskirt. Notice that the image shows how the hoopskirt looks under a dress. This was the fashion for women.  (This annotation contains an image)
Use the define feature and look up the word resentment. Based on the definition, explain how Frances's feelings and thinking are affected by thoughts of her mother. 
Watch the clip below to learn more about the Fugitive Slave Act.  (This annotation contains a video)
Compare how Frances's dreams help her stay positive and Megan's refusal to listen. What does this reveal about the girls? 

Chapter 7

Explain how Mike providing comfort and safety for the all children parallels the sense of responsibility Frances feels? 
Keep track of how Mr. Crandon's presence affects the Kelly children. Mr. Crandon is very unhappy with the children being on the train and he cannot even allow himself to thank Mike for helping him.  
Explain the importance of Frances's realization and the connection to what Katherine and Andrew have been telling the children. 
Notice Mike's apology and Frances's response. Mike has also grown up very quickly and has accepted the responsibility of his family too.  
Notice how Mike's perspective has changed. In the beginning of the novel, Mike valued the stories of the outlaws. His experience on the train has changed his view and also has pushed him to accept his own bravery.  
Explain how Mr. Crandon's view of Mike is affected by Mike being from New York rather than based on Mike's heroic actions. Use text examples to support your response.  
Explain how Frances's speech helps the adults accept the children's situation but also helps Frances embrace it as well.  

Chapter 8

Notice how Frances is allowing herself to be curious and not worried.  
This is a huge moment for Mike because he has finally been seen for his bravery and not his wrongdoings. Keep track of how this statement helps Mike grow.  
What is Frances not understanding about the sacrifice the families in the West are making in adopting children from New York? 
Chapters 5-8 Quiz 

Chapter 9

Use the define feature and look up the meaning of brusquely. Which of the following is an antonym (opposite in meaning) of how brusquely is used? 
All of the children have grown up through their experience moving West. Danny is finally able to become independent of Mike and stand up for himself.  
Based on Danny's previous speech to the Swensons, explain why Danny's tears are described as rebellious.  
Do you think Frances will ever realize that Ma did what was best for the children? Megan will finally have time to enjoy her childhood with the Browders.  
Mr. Crandon has ruined Mike's chances to get adopted by a nice family. Even though Mike has positive qualities, Mr. Crandon has enough power to keep people away from Mike. 
What is Andrew warning the Friedrich's not to do? 
Note the tone and manner of the Friedrich family. How do their actions illustrate what type of home Mike is being sent to? 
Explain how this statement has evolved for Frances throughout her journey on the train. Use evidence from the text to support your response.  

Chapter 10

Life on a homestead was much harder than life back East. The Cummings family moved to land that was not developed and had to rely on their own crops for income and food.  (This annotation contains an image)
Use the define feature and look up the meaning of sacrifice. Explain the importance of the sacrifice the Cummings have made in moving to Kansas. 
Remember that Frances has moved to an area where food is grown fresh and not bought at the market everyday. Frances has never seen a garden like the one she is in now.  
How will Frances's knowledge of fighting and defending herself be helpful in her new life with the Cummings and her disguise as a boy? 
The Underground Railroad wasn't an actual railroad but a collection of routes and safe houses used by runaway slaves. The paths led to the free states.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why is it important to keep the identity of those involved in the Underground Railroad a secret? What dangers face those who are exposed as participants? 
Why is Mrs. Busby surprised with Frances helping in the kitchen? 
Notice the competitive tone and change in attitude between Frances and the boys. How long do you think her disguise will work? 
Why do you think this friendship feels so important to Frances? Keep track of how she adapts to her new life and how well she is able to blend in and be happy.  

Chapter 11

For Frances, being around the cow is scary because it is so new and strange. Imagine how startled she must be when she first heard the cow make noise.  
How has Frances's hard life in New York helped her succeed and blend in with her new life out West? Use evidence from the text to support your response.  
Explain why Frances won't allow herself to think of Ma. Why does Frances force herself to stop thinking this way? 
Notice the comparison and compassion in Frances's statement. She wants to be helpful because she can relate on some level to the mistreatment.  
By ending the chapter with this sentence, the author is hinting at what is about to happen next. This is called foreshadowing.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 12

What risks does Frances face if her disguise is revealed? Based on their previous losses, how do you think the Cummings will react? 
Explain what would happen if the bounty hunters found slaves in the Cummings's barn.   
Notice that Frances will allow herself to think of her siblings and wish for them. This is different from how she views thinking of Ma.  
How does Frances feel when she hears Petey call Margaret "Mama"? 
Note that Frances is ready to reveal her disguise. Will she have time or will the truth be revealed the wrong way? 

Chapter 13

Do you think Johnny would have thought Frances was brave if she had done this as a girl? 
Explain the significance of this statement and how it reflects on Frances's character.  
Explain how Mrs. Mueller's explanation of sacrifice will affect Frances's understanding of Ma's decision to send them West. Use examples from the text to support your response.  
This is a huge moment for Frances. She is finally able to understand Ma's purpose in sending the children away and that she did it with love.  
Explain how Katherine helps Frances in revealing her secret and getting her out of trouble with the marshal.  
Frances's disguise actually helped her get out of a lot of trouble. Do you think the Cummings will still be upset or just relieved that Frances wasn't arrested? 
This is a huge moment for Frances. She is finally allowing herself to relax. In being herself, Frances can be happy and not worried about the well being of everyone else.  
Explain how Ma's letter to ask about the children will help Frances relax and settle into life with the Cummings.  
Chapters 9-13 Quiz