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Literature Link

The Junkyard Wonders


Patricia Polacco


The Junkyard Wonders is based on the true story of a teacher whose influence had a lasting, positive effect on her students. Trisha enters a new school in Michigan, and hopes she won’t be assigned to a special class. At her old school, she had trouble learning to read. On the first day, she is disappointed to learn that Room 206 is known as the junkyard. Fortunately, their teacher, Mrs. Peterson, doesn’t allow her students to feel like “junk.” She divides her Junkyard Wonders into tribes, creating a sense of unity among them. One day, the children visit a local junkyard where they discover a place full of awesome items and collect objects for a class project. Trisha and her tribe retrieve an old model plane, which they refurbish. The whole class looks forward to the science fair when they will fly the plane from the roof of the school in remembrance of a classmate who has died. The school bully tries to foil their plans, but in the end the Junkyard Wonders launch the plane and watch it soar up into the sky. This book portrays the importance of respect and working together.

Character Education Focus:

  • Good teamwork requires respecting others’ thoughts and ideas.
  • Show respect to others by thinking about what they are capable of doing, not what they are incapable of doing.

Reading Objective:


  • practice using respect and teamwork by working in small groups (4–5 students) to determine how to create an arts and crafts project using materials supplied by the teacher. (See project ideas and materials here.)
  • write step-by-step instructions explaining how to create their project.
  • share their project and the directions with the class while peers offer one compliment and one suggestion for improvement.


Writing Objective: The learners will revise their project directions with help from the teacher and create a final draft, including illustrations for publication of a classroom activity book. 

ASCA: Grade 1, C:C2.3  Learn to work cooperatively with others.

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