The young son of a friend of mine recently announced that since he wasn’t going to summer school this year, he thought it would be fun to get a job and earn some money.
Given his age (10) and the inconvenience it could cause to arrange transportation for him, his father suggested that maybe he could pick some chores he’d like to do around the house and they’d negotiate a reasonable “salary.” The lad immediately offered to pull weeds, sweep the patio and water a few plants. “So what do you think I should pay you for that?” the dad asked. Without missing a beat, the young entrepreneur replied, “Oh about $5,000 should do it.” “You want $5,000 for the whole summer?” “No,” the lad replied, “just every time I go outside.”
Nice work if you can get it.
This month’s lesson plans are all about summertime employment and the lessons it can impart outside the classroom.
These discussion questions provide a good foundation prior to choosing which exercises to try first.
1. Have you ever had a summer job? If so, what was it and what did you do?
2. During the summer, would you rather go to school/camp or have a job?
3. Would you rather work indoors or outdoors?
4. Define the dream summer job you’d like to have.
5. What do you think is a fair salary for a summer job?
6. What would you do with the money you earned?
7. Would you rather work for a family member or someone else? Why?
8. Would you rather have a summer job you hated but that paid you well or a volunteer job you loved but that didn’t pay you anything?
Have you ever had a teacher or coach you totally dreaded – one that had a quick temper, that snarkily criticized you in front of others, and that always made you feel like you just couldn’t do anything right? My own such nemesis taught modern dance and made even the slimmest girls feel like a lead-footed moose whenever they messed up. To this day, there are certain pieces of classical music that still make me cringe in remembrance…
Your assignment: The protagonist in the short scene you’re going to write has just gotten a summer job stocking shelves at a membership warehouse club. One afternoon, s/he overhears the supervisor chewing out an employee for being stupid and careless. After the supervisor storms off, s/he goes around the corner to cheer up the distraught co-worker…and discovers it’s none other than the dreaded teacher who has only taken this job to try to make ends meet.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
The protagonist of your short film has been tasked with interviewing summer job applicants for the neighborhood haunted house. Among them is a witch, a werewolf and a zombie.
Your assignment: Write a two-page interview scene for each of these characters in which they share their strengths and weaknesses, explain whether they work well with others, and divulge why they were either let go or voluntarily left their prior employment.
YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME
The good news is that your protagonist and best friend both got summer internships at the same company. The even better news is that so, too, did a member of the “popular” club the protagonist has been trying to break into at school. The bad news? The protagonist will be supervising both of them.
Your assignment: An amazing opportunity has come up for one person in this trio (including the protagonist) to attend an upcoming concert and interview the leader of the band. Write two separate scenes (3 pages each) in which the protagonist’s two underlings push their respective agendas for being the one picked. Then write a third scene in which the protagonist tells them what the decision will be.
THE STORIES I COULD TELL
The protagonist of your new film can’t think of a more boring summer job than to read aloud to an elderly neighbor who is blind. On the third day, however, his/her attention starts to wander to the groupings of vintage pictures on the walls and the fireplace mantle. To his/her surprise, a face in one of these framed images is startlingly recognizable and begs the question of its connection to the now-reclusive neighbor.
Your assignment: Write a four page scene in which the summer reader realizes this job could be much more interesting than previously expected.
Many a teenager’s first summer job is babysitting other people’s children. Oftentimes, they find this preferable to babysitting their own siblings where they have to endure the constant threat of “I’m telling Mom!”
Your assignment: In your film short, your protagonist returns home from an exhausting evening of babysitting a group of spoiled, unruly and destructive children. Although she has always had a contentious relationship with her younger sibling, the latter is waiting up to hear how everything went. Over mugs of hot chocolate, the babysitter discloses that she has come to appreciate her own family in a different way after spending the past four hours with offspring for whom rules have been nonexistent.
As part of my ongoing commitment to supply great lesson plans for today’s classrooms, I always enjoy getting feedback on how the material is used and what kind of new content you’d like to see in future columns. I’m also happy to answer any questions related to specific problems your students may be struggling with. Just drop me a note at or through my website at http://www.authorhamlett.com.
Former actress/director Christina Hamlett is an award winning author, professional script consultant, and ghostwriter. Her credits to date include 31 books, 157 plays for young actors, and 5 optioned feature films.