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Monday Morning Ready08.07.2015
Jumpstart Your Week!

Sidekicks rarely shine when thrust into the spotlight. But what about a few hundred of them? The Minions, having been the best part of the two previous "Despicable Me" movies, swarmed the screen in "Minions" this summer. As candidates for center stage, they are seemingly ill suited. They are slavishly - if rarely competently - devoted lackeys. They are underlings by both definition and their lack of height.... < read more >
Grade 3-4

Based on what the article reveals about Minions, why do you think Minions like to work as henchmen for supervillians? Why do you think they always fail?

Grade 5-6

Think of other movies you've seen. What other sidekicks do you think deserve to have films of their own? Why?

Grade 7-8

Why do you think the writers went all the way back to the beginning, with the Minions walking out of the sea, in this movie? What does that history add to their story?

Grade 9-10

How would you describe the Minions? Do you agree with the writer that Minions are "seemingly ill-suited" for center stage? Why or why not?

Write a Review


  1. Point out to the class that this article is a review of the movie "The Minions." Discuss what a review is. Guide students to recognize that a review has several key purposes:
    • It informs: A good review gives details such as who is in the movie, what it's about, who made the movie and where people can go to see it.
    • It describes: A good review describes the characters, setting and action without giving away the entire story.
    • It analyzes: A good review tells what the reviewer did and didn't like about the film.
    • It advises: A good review tells potential viewers whether or not the writer thinks they should go see the film.
  2. Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to appoint a recorder. Then give students five minutes to analyze the article.
  3. Rejoin as a class to evaluate students' findings. Discuss whether or not the writer provided a solid enough review to support a rating of two-and-a-half stars out of four.
  4. Point out to students that they may or may not have seen the movie "The Minions," but they all had a summer vacation. Using the points above as a guideline, instruct students to write a review of their summer. Challenge them to inform, describe and analyze what they did. Encourage them to include reasons why others should or shouldn't want to do some of the same things. Have students rate their summers: one star indicates a really bad summer but a four-star summer was excellent.


Invite students to share their summer vacation reviews in small groups. Encourage them to analyze each review to determine whether or not the rating is accurate and the writer was fair in his or her assessment of the events.


Grades 3–4:
Have students create a two-column table on a piece of paper. Instruct them to label their columns as "Inform" and "Describe." Encourage students to list relevant items in each column. Then, using their notes as a guide, encourage students to analyze what they did and write one paragraph advising others about their summers. What do they think other people should try?What should they skip?

Grades 5–6:
Encourage students to create a list of information they'd like to include in their papers. Challenge them to then write a brief review that has a compelling introduction, a body supported by relevant details and a conclusion that clearly states their opinion. 

Grades 7–8:
As students write their reviews, remind them that a review doesn't just inform readers. It also entertains. Writers must keep people's attention or they will not read the entire review. Challenge students to incorporate anecdotes in their reviews and use language that will grab and keep readers' interest. 

Grades 9–10:
Before students begin to write, encourage them to consider the impression they want readers to have after reading their review. Did they have a happy summer? Was it inspiring? Was it depressing or sad? Explain to students that style and mood can have as big of an impact on readers as the words they choose to use. Instruct students to identify the style and mood they'd like to convey. Challenge them to incorporate these elements into their writing as they complete their reviews. 

The Scientist Behind "Jurassic World", Jack Horner, Breaks Down the Movie's Thrilling Trailer
Smithsonian article: Interview with the paleontologist, who was an adviser on the Jurassic Park movies, about the science behind the franchise.

Book Dragon: Asian Pacific American Book Review
This blog, published by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, includes reviews of books written by or about Asian Pacific Americans. The books range from children's picture books to adult fiction and nonfiction to manga, and the reviewer makes special note of whether the book is presented bilingually.

Extraordinary Evidence
Students review the National Museum of American History’s Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life online exhibition, then conduct targeted historical research on Abraham Lincoln to present to the class.