The House of The Scorpion Activities

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been part of the whirlwind world of teaching middle school for 20 years. She has a Master of Education degree in instructional design.

'The House of the Scorpion' by Nancy Farmer offers a plentiful supply of complex themes and characters. Use these activities to help middle or high school students apply their knowledge of the novel's content in unique, interactive ways.

The House of the Scorpion Activities

The House of the Scorpion is a dystopian young adult novel that explores complex themes, such as cloning, immigration, and power. Use these activities to help middle or high school students digest the novel's content and create products that demonstrate their understanding. The first activity is best used with technology access, but it can be modified to be paper-based. The second activity asks students to debate one another based on the power structure of Opium. Lastly, the third activity invites students to create a new set of rules and regulations for the upcoming society Matt will build.

Tech Timeline

  • Materials: novel structure handout, access to technology

In this activity, students will create a digital timeline of Matt's coming of age experiences throughout the novel. Begin the activity by providing students with a novel structure handout for note-taking. Have students, in partners, sift through the novel's events to determine the changes Matt experienced as he grew up in and eventually escaped Opium. The note-taking will serve as a foundation for the digital timeline they will create.

Then, combine partners into teams and assign one section of the novel to each team. Provide access to technology so students can create their digital timelines using information from note-taking along with images they find online. Consider using one of the interactive timeline tools that can be found online. Alternatively, students can create a simple timeline in a word processing or presentation program. Provide adequate time for students to type in timeline events and gather images that represent each of Matt's experiences. Allow teams to present their final products to the class. Wrap up with an independent reflection in which students relate to some aspect of Matt's growth and development throughout the novel.

Dystopian Debate

  • Materials: basic debate guidelines, novel note-taking sheet, observation form

In this activity, student teams will debate from two perspectives: those who defend the dystopian power structure of Opium and those who believe change must occur. Begin the activity by separating students into pairs or small groups and providing them with a novel note-taking sheet that provides a structure for their analysis. Then, allow students to dig through the novel looking for reasons that characters might defend the dystopian society of Opium and reasons why others rail against it. It's important for students to see both sides before proceeding to the debate portion of the activity.

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