Of Mice and Men 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.

'Of Mice and Men' is a novella written by John Steinbeck that takes place during the time of the Great Depression. Use the projects below to help students develop a full understanding of both the story and the lessons within.

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men is a Depression era story about two migrant workers and their experiences as they search for work. There is much to be learned from this novella, and by involving students in various book related activities teachers can ensure that their class is making connections and drawing meaning from its pages. The activities below, intended for use with high school learners, have been developed for this purpose.

Class Debate

Materials: writing paper, pencils and/or computer for writing and research

  • Begin with a discussion about the book. Talk about the fact that some people have expressed concerns about using the book in schools because of its use of language, violence, and stereotyping. Ask students to share their opinions.
  • Put students into four groups.
  • Explain that each group is going to prepare for and participate in a debate about the book.
  • Assign two of the groups the position that the book should be banned from schools.
  • Assign the other two groups the position that the book should be included in the curriculum.
  • Allow time for each group to develop arguments supporting their assigned positions. Allow use of computers for research if needed.
  • When ready, pair the groups up (each pair containing one group representing each of the two different positions).
  • In front of the class, have each pair of groups participate in debate.
    • Have one pair of groups debate. After the first pair has concluded their debate, allow for class discussion as to how convincing each side was in their argument.
    • Have the second pair of groups debate. Again, allow for class discussion afterward as to how convincing each side was.
  • Pull it together with a class discussion. Allow people to present their own personal feelings and ideas (they no longer have to stick to an assigned position).

Compare George and Lennie

Materials: poster board, markers or colored pencils

  • Put students into groups of 2-4.
  • Give each group poster board and markers or colored pencils.
  • Explain that each group is to create a poster clearly representing the two main characters of the book (George and Lennie).
  • Have students divide the poster board in half (either direction) and put one character's name in each section.
  • Next, instruct students to begin their poster representations. Ask them to include:
    • Pictures to represent both
    • Adjectives to describe them (physical appearance, character, and personality)
    • Dreams, goals, and desires of each character
    • Quotes from the book that show true representations of each character
  • On the back of each poster, each group is to create two lists.
    • One is to be a list of things George and Lennie have in common.
    • The other is to be a list of things that are different about them.
  • Once finished, have each group share and explain their posters to the class.

Looking for Advice

Materials: sample letters (and responses) to advice columnists such as Dear Abby, writing paper and pencils or access to a computer for writing

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