The Boys Start the War Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to increase student understanding of the novel 'The Boys Start the War.' A text lesson helps students summarize and analyze characters before, during and after reading. Application activities, questions and a quiz allow students to show what they know.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • analyze characters in The Boys Start the War
  • compare and contrast the plot in the novel The Boys Start the War to the real-life situation of the Hatfields and the McCoys


Lessons divided into mini-sessions for before, during and after reading, between 40 minutes to 1 hour


Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.5.4

Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.5.4.a

Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

Before Reading

  • Divide students into partners and ask them to think of a time or situation that it was 'them against us' and share, discussing what happened.
  • Discuss briefly as a whole class, having students talk about their feelings involved with the situation.
  • Tell students they will be reading a book with the same theme called The Boys Start the War. Have partners discuss the possible meaning of the title, then talk about it as a whole group.
  • Ask students to label their reading notebooks with the book title and create subheadings for plot, characters, questions and wonderings, and quotes. Add more sections as you choose.
  • Distribute the lesson The Boys Start the War: Book Summary & Characters and read the sections 'Boys vs Girls,' 'Characters,' 'Hartford Boys' and 'Malloy Girls' together.
  • Have students record information about the characters in their notebooks. In this section, have students record character information in a four-column chart with columns titled 'Thoughts,' 'Actions,' 'Words' and 'Feelings.'
  • Demonstrate how students can list characters in rows and input these criteria.
  • Collect the lesson for use after reading.
  • Give students sticky notes to mark spots in the book where they have questions, wonderings or comments. Explain that questions are specific unknowns, such as 'What is a rivalry?' and a wondering is an idea we ponder, such as 'Why did the character make that choice?'

During Reading

  • As students read, ask them to continue to record information about the characters in their chart.
  • Meet regularly to have students compare their notes about plot and to share their questions and wonderings.
  • Pull guided reading groups during reading to review concepts together, or read the book during class time as a whole-class shared experience.

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