A Raisin in the Sun Project Ideas

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Set in 1950s Chicago, 'A Raisin in the Sun' is a novel written by Lorraine Hansberry. With its in-depth look at what life was like for African Americans of this era, the book presents a powerful message about civil rights and the issues of inequality.

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun is a novel written as a play. It gives readers a glimpse into the lives of African Americans living during a time when civil rights were at issue and many African Americans were starting to take a stand against inequality and discrimination. Best read with middle or high school students, the book paints a clear picture of what life was like for these Americans. The following projects have been developed to deepen understanding of the characters and themes presented in the book and to help students connect with the overall message it portrays.

Character Analysis Map

Objective: Students will be able to look at characters from many angles and complete a character analysis.

Materials: Computers and/or writing utensils and paper

  • Explain that students will create a graphic organizer (of their choice) that will display their information. In their organizer, they will analyze each of the major characters:
    • Mama (Lena)
    • Walter
    • Ruth
    • Beneatha
    • Travis
  • For each character they will analyze:
    • Role in the family
    • Personality traits
    • Dreams/desires
    • Changes throughout the story
    • Where you envision this character will be five years after the story ends
  • Let students present their work to the class when finished.

News Report

Objective: Several interesting events take place throughout the story. Use this project to help students develop an understanding of these events.

Materials: Computers, printers, writing utensils

  • Put students into three separate groups.
  • Explain that each group is going to pretend that they are a news team (researchers, reporters, etc).
  • Each team will take on a different event and develop a news story to report on that event.
  • Assign each team an event from the story:
    • The bombing of an African American family
    • Willy stealing the money
    • A new family (the Youngers) moving into Clybourne Park
  • Give students time to develop their stories and practice their news reports. Encourage the use of pictures to add interest. Students can use their phones to video their story as well.
  • Allow each group to present their news stories to the class.

Cast the Movie

Objective: Although the book has already been made into a movie (twice), let students imagine that they are directors preparing to film the movie. In this project, they will cast their movie.

Materials: Writing utensils, computers

  • Each student is to pretend that they are a director about to cast actors to cover each part in the book.
  • Have students decide who they would cast to be:
    • Mama (Lena)
    • Walter
    • Ruth
    • Beneatha
    • Travis
    • Lindner
    • George
    • Asagai
    • Bobo
  • Once they have decided who will play each part, have students write a paragraph for each character explaining their choice of actors to play each part. They can print out or add pictures of their cast as well.

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