The Outsiders is amazing for its raw look at teen life and class differences. It stresses the dangers of stereotypes and conformity; it validates a teen’s feelings about wanting to fit in and feeling outside of things almost everywhere. It also makes us think about what comprises family and tests our beliefs about loyalty. I have to admit, I haven’t been able to read it since the 80s without picturing the amazing ensemble cast that played in the film, and since I made the Littles watch it with me last night, today I have Stevie Wonder’s Stay Gold going constantly through my head.
But you’re here to read about the ways you can deepen your littles’ understanding of this amazing classic. So what am I waiting for?
Oh, I know. Yesterday was such a weird day with the electric going off for 3 hours after the Weekend From Hell, that I forgot to remind you to visit the other bloggers in the 10 Days of Homeschool Tips series and to sign up for the $150 cash prize. So I’m doing that first today, ’cause I don’t want to forget again. Give my fellow bloggers some love, would you please? All right, now let’s get to it.
Activities for further learning with The Outsiders
I’m a little overwhelmed with all the stuff you can do with this book. So I’m dividing it up again and hoping I don’t miss anything. Of course, there will be another free printable at the end. Because I like you so much.
Because there is so much character-driven yumminess in this novel, there are lots of ways for your littles to explore their own feelings through diary entries. Again, there’s a diary entry printable in the freebie. You can have them write about:
- How they think others see them
- The social groups they know about and which one they think they fit in
- Pretend they are Johnny and write an entry about his home life
- Pretend they are Cherry or Marcia and write about meeting the greasers at the drive-in
- Pretend they are Ponyboy and write about a day at the church hideout
- Pretend they are Bob and write about how he felt when his girlfriend abandoned him to hang out with Greasers
- The senselessness of Dally’s death
This is another book that offers plenty of chances for your littles to do some research and learn about something new. Here are just a few topics they could cover:
- The 1960s
- The Beatles
- Hank Wiliams, Sr.
- Cars of the 1960s, especially Mustangs
- Rodeo/barrel racing
- Drive-in movies
Write a letter
Again, there’s a page for this included in the free printables. Writing these letters may help your littles understand all of the complex characters a little better. Try one or more of these:
- A letter from Bob to Johnny about why he beat him up
- A letter from Two-Bit to Marcia explaining why he threw her number away
- A letter from Darry to Pony explaining why he treated him the way he did
- A letter from Pony to Darry telling him how Pony felt when Darry hit him
- A letter from Johnny to the socs explaining why he killed Bob
- A letter from Bob to Cherry telling her how he felt when she abandoned him to hang out with greasers
- A letter from a teacher to the greasers thanking them for saving the children
- A letter from Dally to Johnny answering the letter Johnny left for Ponyboy
- Explore how gangs become extended family to their members and how dysfunctional homes are more likely to produce gang members but there are exceptions
- Describe the differences between the greasers and the socs (there is a Venn diagram in the printable to help get organized), and explore what people could do to avoid such differences
- Explore the examples of loyalty and rivalry in the book and how one can lead to the other
- Think about what might have happened if Johnny hadn’t stabbed Bob. How might the story have turned out differently?
- Explain why you think Darry is so hard on Ponyboy
- Find instances in the book where the gang takes care of Johnny. Explain why Johnny is the gang pet and why everyone is so protective of him
- Adults do not have a prominent role in The Outsiders. Explain why you think Hinton chose to exclude them from the tale
- The pros and cons of conformity
- How stereotyping can lead us to completely misunderstand a person
Crafts and other Art
- Draw the church where Johnny and Ponyboy hid out
- Paint the sunrise that inspired them in watercolors
- Make a diorama of the drive-in scene
- Make a collage of 10 different individuals cut from magazines, then list what you think their interests, jobs, lifestyles, and friendships are like solely based on appearance (this is a great way to recognize stereotypes)
Um, popcorn. Because drive-in. And it’s better than a week’s worth of bologna.
So many more activities.
- Watch the film with your littles. My boys loved it.
- Listen to this song that won’t get out of my head: Stay Gold by Stevie Wonder
- Go to the drive-in
- If there’s not a drive-in near you, pick a clear night and haul your TV out on the porch and set up an outside movie night. Um, yeah yeah.
- Make a wanted poster for a character from the book–Ponyboy, Johnny, Dally, Tim Shepard, Bob or Randy (template in the printable)
- Make a Venn diagram showcasing the differences between greasers and socs (in printable).
- Write a newspaper article about the greasers saving the kids (in printable)
- The book mentions both Great Expectations and Gone With the Wind. So read Great Expectations next. Because Dickens.
- Watch West Side Story. Yeah, it is set a decade earlier, but it explores the same themes and there’s even a rumble. Plus great music.
Do not miss this 10-page printable, my friends. There’s some really cool stuff in here.
I hope you decide to read this book with your littles and enjoy some of these marvelous activities. This one can really help people of any age think critically about the way life works and the change we should strive to be.
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