Woods Runner Activities

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

'Woods Runner' by Gary Paulson is a book about a boy who learns to fend for himself as he travels the woods alone in search of his parents. Use the activities in this asset to help students truly connect with this story.

Woods Runner

Woods Runner is the story of a young teenage boy, Samuel, in 1770s Pennsylvania. While out in the forest one day, he realizes that his home is burning and returns to find his parents taken. In his quest to find and save his parents, Samuel encounters many characters and participates in many adventures. Use the activities below, developed for use with older elementary readers, to help students draw meaning and make connections with Samuel and his story.

Create a Glossary

Materials: writing paper or access to a computer for writing, dictionary or access to a computer for dictionary use, drawing paper and colored pencils or markers

  • Begin by writing the following vocabulary words on the board and briefly review meaning for each word (as it fits into the story).
    • tallow
    • marauding
    • savage
    • unshod
    • gangrene
    • cud
    • fractious
    • abated
    • mercenary
    • poultice
    • seethed
    • dragoons
    • brusque
    • laudanum
    • treadle
    • passel
    • placate
    • plundered
    • privies
  • Next, put students into groups of 2-4.
  • Give each group writing paper or access to a computer.
  • Instruct each group to select 10 of the vocabulary words on the board to work with.
  • Explain that each group will be creating a glossary for the book by defining each of their chosen words. Be sure that students alphabetize their chosen words before beginning their work. For each word, students will need to include:
    • part of speech
    • definition
    • example of the word used in a sentence as related to the story (if quoted directly, be sure students use quotation marks)
  • When finished, each group will design a cover to go with their glossary and put everything together as a book.

Chapter Reviews

Materials: writing paper, props as determined by individual students

  • Assign each of the 19 chapters (plus the Epilogue) to students. With a larger class, some chapters may have to be assigned to small groups and for a smaller class, some students may have to take more than one chapter.
  • Explain that students are going to become experts on their assigned chapters.
  • Allow time for students to develop a presentation that summarizes and explains the importance of their assigned chapter(s). Explain that they can develop props or visual aides that might help in their oral presentation.
  • When ready, have each chapter presented to the class (in order) so as to develop a full and complete summary and analysis of the book.

Write the Children's Version

Materials: drawing paper, colored pencils or markers

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