I’ve taught Of Mice and Men, and I have lesson plan ideas. Personally, I enjoy the book, but The Grapes of Wrath is my favorite Steinbeck novel. Still, teaching Of Mice and Men is fun, and like most novel studies, I never teach the same way twice.
No matter what novel you are teaching, and no matter how many times you’ve taught it, you will want an assortment of activities for individual classes.
Sometimes having varying activities and resources will add oomph to whatever novel guide you are using. Here are quick extension activities for Of Mice and Men.
- Incorporate nonfiction from Steinbeck. Steinbeck wrote “The Harvest Gypsies,” and students can relate this reading to the novel. I normally jigsaw the eight parts and have students present a brief summary.
- Play a song. Songs about migrant workers and their lives exist! You can play the songs or have students read the lyrics. Start here.
- Build empathy. Students normally feel empathetic toward Lennie. Sometimes they wonder why George participated in teasing him. This takes some reflection; it helps to ask students if they regret behavior from when they were younger. Also, it helps to discuss how treatment of those with disabilities has changed throughout time. Take into account students’ abilities and then apply research. For instance, when I taught Of Mice and Men with students who found the book difficult, I found that they had all seen “Forest Gump.” They understood that Forest had a learning disability, and I could relate that character to Lennie.
- Understand Curley’s wife. The poor thing doesn’t have a name! This was not an accident! Steinbeck is emphasizing the role women had during this time period. A bit of perspective will lead students to understanding why this is significant. Research for women’s role in society can be found at the Institute of American History and the History Channel.
- Steinbeck background. Steinbeck has won a Nobel Prize. Students typically recognize that honor, and they understand the magnitude of winning it. I encourage students to read the novel and then research the author; they seem to look for clues about the author more if they have already read some of the author’s work.
Teaching Of Mice and Men? What extension activities have you added to your novel study?