Oh me. Oh my. I’ve probably read To Kill a Mockingbird 10 times. I remember the first time I read it with the boys. It was before we even started homeschooling. But I’m a firm believer in introducing little littles to good lit as soon as they can hear.
Also, those acceptance and diversity lessons can never start too early.
People acted shocked that I would read such a loaded book with kids so young. I acted shocked that they wouldn’t. It was a grand time.
You really can read this book with kids of any age so long as you’re prepared to have real, honest conversations about some of the more delicate subjects. And there is so much you can learn while reading it!
To Kill a Mockingbird Activities
“There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy, and no money to buy it with…”
That sentence is so evocative. You almost don’t need anything else to describe a small town during the Great Depression. It gives you lots to work with in terms of educating with the book. Here are some of our favorites.
So. Many. Things.
Research the Great Depression. Find recipes and cook Great Depression food. Discuss other books set in the time period.
Take an interweb stroll through some of the southern estates. Look at the Biltmore‘s website, Mt. Vernon’s, Hills and Dales Estate, Bellingrath Gardens and Home, or my favorite: Monticello. Better yet, if you live anywhere near any of those places, take a day trip!
The end of the description above is this: “But it was time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told it had nothing to fear but fear itself.” Have your kids listen to or read FDR’s inaugural speech and discuss how it might have roused optimistic feelings in U.S. citizens.
Study segregation and Jim Crow laws and discuss why it is good that they were overturned.
Hold a mock trial. Create a crime and give your students roles such as prosecutor, defending attorney, judge, and jury. Ask your kids to really think about how they would respond as a juror to the facts and implications of the case.
To get an idea of just how bad Jim Crow laws were for African-Americans, have your students re-write them to discriminate against their own race. Then study how bills are passed in Congress and find out what they would have to do to get their laws passed. If you’re students are African-Americans, take a closer look at how the laws made it through Congress and became laws.
The story begins and ends with Jem breaking his arm. Study the human skeleton and the bones that comprise it.
This super cool Boo Radley Knothole Tree makes a great place to leave your kids love notes and treats. Or for them to leave cool stuff for each other. It’s super easy to make–only takes about 15 minutes. I even made a video to show you exactly what to do. I’m cool like that.
What you need:
- Brown postal paper
- 9-oz plastic cup
- Cardboard tube (paper towel roll)
- Transparent tape
What you do:
- Cut postal paper into 1 10×14-inch piece, 1 12×12-inch piece, 1 10×12-inch piece and 10×10-inch piece
- Crumple 10×14-inch piece into a ball
- Gently unfold then re-crumple to create tree trunk texture
- Cover cardboard tube with glue
- Line up cardboard tube with a 10-inch side of crumpled paper
- Roll tube up in paper, leaving 2-3 inches of paper at bottom
- Run a line of glue along edge of paper and press against tube
- Place a piece of tape over edge to hold in place
- With scissors, cut a slit into extra paper every inch or so, being careful not to cut cardboard tube
- Flare out cut paper to create tree roots
- Set trunk aside
- Cut 10×12-inch 10×10-inch and paper in half so you have 2 5×12-inch and 2 5×10-inch pieces
- Fold 1 5×12-inch paper in half long ways
- Starting at cut edge, fold over about 1/4 inch
- Continue to fold until you reach the end
- Allow folded paper to fall loose
- Starting at one end, twist folded paper to make tree branch
- Repeat 5 prior steps for other 5×12-inch paper and both 5×10-inch papers
- Tape branches to inside of top of cardboard tube, with similar-length branches opposite each other
- Crumple, unfold, and re-crumple 12×12-inch piece of paper to create texture
- Cover plastic cup with glue
- Place cup about 2 inches down on crumpled paper, leaving excess paper intact
- Roll cup up in paper
- When ends meet on other side of cup, cut excess paper FROM THE SIDE but not from the bottom
- You should have a funnel of paper below the cup
- Run a line of glue along edge of paper and press against cup
- Cover paper funnel with glue
- Spread tree branches and gently push funnel into cardboard tube
- Arrange branches as you like
This project is easy and fun for most kids. My boys loved receiving sticks of gum and notes from me in their Boo Radley Knothole tree while we were reading the book.
If you didn’t catch the activities for January-June, check out:
- Winnie-the-Pooh’s Very Useful Pot
- Black Beauty’s Felt Childhood Meadow
- Little House on the Prairie’s Craft Stick Log Cabin
- Robinson Crusoe’s Island Journal
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’s Craft Stick Characters
- The Wind in the Willows Summer/Winter Riverside Art Project
Tomorrow, my lovelies, we’ll get to Mary Poppins!