War Horse Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to deepen your students' understanding of the characters and plot in the play War Horse by Nick Stafford. Students will read a text lesson that overviews plot and analyzes characters then discuss content with peers before applying learning to an activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • analyze characters in War Horse by Nick Stafford
  • summarize plot in War Horse


  • 1 - 1.5 hours


Character List

  • Joey
  • Albert Narracott
  • Ned
  • Major Nicholls
  • Topthorn
  • Captain Stewart
  • Hauptmann (Captain) Friedrich Muller
  • Karl
  • David Taylor

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3

Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


NOTE - This lesson is for students who have read the play War Horse by Nick Stafford.

  • Start the lesson with a think-pair-share activity, having partners discuss the following questions:
    • Is the love for an animal different than that for a human?
    • Is there ever a 'happily ever after in war stories?
    • Was Albert justified to lie about his age?
  • After the conversation, distribute copies of the lesson War Horse: Summary & Characters and ask students to read the first section 'Man's Best Friend.' Ask:
    • Why do you think Stafford made this into a play?
  • Now divide students into small groups and assign each group two characters to analyze.
  • Start by asking students to read the remainder of the lesson. Then each group should create a list of character traits for their assigned characters using the text lesson and the play as resources.
  • Finally, instruct students to create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast their two assigned two characters.
  • Have groups transfer their information onto chart paper and allow each group to present their analyses.
  • Next, divide students into two large groups. Give each student an index card.
  • Instruct groups to work together to summarize the play War Horse in writing, one sentence on each index card. Groups will have to work together to determine how to summarize in a specific number of sentences. Allow them to use the lesson for guidance.
  • When students are finished, collect the cards, mix them up, and give them to the opposite group.
  • On your go, have groups put the summaries in the correct order, racing against the other team. Check for accuracy and declare a winner.
  • Have students read the 'Lesson Summary' and take the printable quiz.

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