Of Mice and Men Activities

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Are you teaching Steinbeck's short classic 'Of Mice and Men'? This lesson will provide activity ideas to help your students better understand the book's characters, themes, and literary elements.

Of Mice and Men Activities

The activities listed below are designed to reach a variety of learning styles and ability levels. These activities are also designed to help students better understand the book, from the plot to universal themes. Select activities that best fit the makeup of your class, group size, academic level, and access to technology.

Dramatic Adaptation

Of Mice and Men contains short chapters that read like scenes from a play and the story builds like a traditional drama. Steinbeck wrote a version of the book as a play and several successful film versions have been made. For this activity, choose particular scenes from the book that correspond with the skills being taught in class. For instance, if you have focused on characterization, then the scene in Crooks's room would be a good choice because it's one that reveals his character through words, action, and setting. Next, divide the class into small groups and assign each group a scene to transform into play form. Teach mini lessons on the conventions of writing for the stage and stage directions as needed. Either give students a rubric or develop one with them so they'll have a tool to guide their work and self-assess. Perform completed scripts for the class. A further option would be to film the scenes and edit them together into a condensed movie version of the book.

Character Collages

Collect discarded magazines for this activity. This activity works well with visual and kinesthetic learners who need to see and manipulate objects. Give students a subject matter for a collage. They will cut out pictures and words and paste these on a piece of construction paper with the goal of completely filling the page with elements that represent their given subject. A student given the theme of 'isolation' might find pictures of a desert, a raft on the ocean, or a single person in an otherwise empty room. The student could pair these images and others with cut out words to create quotes from the text, such as Lennie's line, ''I can go away any time.'' The subject matter could be a character, a theme, or even the mood of a particular chapter. To make the activity more purposeful, give students a grading rubric ahead of time and require that they either write or verbally explain the elements in their collages. Publish student projects by displaying them around the classroom.

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