When Zachary Beaver Came to Town Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

This lesson plan accompanies the book 'When Zachary Beaver Came to Town' by Kimberly Willis Holt. It will help them analyze the characters, setting, and major details that enable them to form a summary of the book.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson students will be able to:

  • Summarize the book.
  • Analyze the main characters.
  • Examine how the setting contributes to the story.


This lesson will take approximately 45-90 minutes.



Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.


Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).


Materials needed

  • paper
  • pens

This lesson is best used after students have read the book When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.

Activate prior knowledge by asking students the following discussion questions:

  • What types of things would someone see at a sideshow?
  • Why do you think many people are opposed to sideshows?

Read the lesson When Zachary Beaver Came to Town: Book Summary & Characters as a class.

After reading the Welcome to Antler, Texas section, pause to ask the following questions:

  • Describe the town where this story takes place.
  • Why do you think the author chose this time period for the story?
  • How would the story be different if it took place in your hometown today?

Continue reading the lesson. Pause after the Townsfolk section. Have students create a 3-column chart to help them organize the characters. Students should label the columns: The Wilsons, The McKnights, and the Community. Under each category, students should list the characters and write a brief sentence describing that character.

Continue reading the remainder of the lesson.

Use the lesson's printable worksheet to check for understanding.


Conflicts Activity

Materials needed

  • construction paper/poster board
  • paper
  • pens
  • markers/crayons

Discuss the various types of conflicts that can occur in a story, including:

  • Man vs Self
  • Man vs. Man
  • Man vs. Society
  • Man vs. Nature
  • Man vs. Fate/Supernatural

Divide students into 5 separate groups. Provide each group with a set of materials.

Assign each group one of these types of conflicts. Have groups select an interaction from the book that illustrates their assigned conflict. Have student groups create a poster that illustrates an example of their conflict. Student groups will then create a shared writing that summarizes the parts of the story that explain the conflict and resolution from their poster and each group will present to the rest of the class.

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