The Things They Carried Unit Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'The Things They Carried' is a fictional collection of short stories about the men of Alpha Company during the Vietnam War. Teachers may use this resource to create comprehensive lesson plans about this novel.

The Things They Carried

Think about some of the things you carry. Your bedroom and perhaps your pockets contain memorabilia or photos that reflect your character. Additionally, we all have things we carry emotionally. Sometimes it is emotional baggage that feels like a weight, but positive memories and relationships with others are also part of what goes with us wherever we are. In The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, the author examines the Vietnam War from the perspective of individual soldiers in Alpha Company who bring their individual backgrounds, philosophies, and emotions into their Vietnam experience. This unit plan provides a framework for building instructional plans for high school students about The Things They Carried.


Students will be able to glean more from their reading experience if they have some background knowledge about the Vietnam War and the way this war was perceived differently in the United States from other wars in which the country had engaged. The Vietnam War Debate Lesson Plan examines various perspectives on U.S. involvement through a video lesson, primary document research, and collaborative activities in which students examine pro-war and anti-war stances.

Students can learn more about the way guerilla tactics used by the Viet Cong impacted war-fighting experience through the Vietnam War Tactics Lesson Plan. This resource uses a video lesson, discussion, and research to help students prepare an oral presentation related to military strategy.

Reading the Novel

The Things They Carried Activities includes both pre-reading and during reading options that encourage students to think about the symbolism and big ideas that are woven into this novel through art, writing, and dramatic activities that will hold their interest.

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