Monday, February 21, 2011

Because of Winn-Dixie

A dog can provide much more than companionship

Kate DiCamillo (author of the Mercy Watson series, which I love!) brings us a touching story about a girl named Opal and a dog she finds and names Winn-Dixie. Who knew a dog could bring you so much clarity and happiness? Opal knows how much a dog can do after spending only a little time with Winn-Dixie, a dog who smiles so hard he sneezes and is so scared of thunder he scurries around the trailer without purpose until the storm is over. Opal makes friends with the people in her new neighborhood and begins to appreciate her father, the minister, with help from her new dog in Because of Winn-Dixie. Anyone who has ever questioned their past, wondered about their future or loved a pet will relate to and love this story!

Teachers... here are some resources and ideas to help you to use this book in your classroom (If you buy the most recently released Scholastic version pictured above, there are discussion questions and activities in the back of the book.)

Web Resources
  •  Class Guide: This website is a teacher's guide to teaching Because of Winn-Dixie. There are many links to facts about various aspects of the stories that can help expand the curriculum around this books such as the dangers of alcohol, facts about prison and even recipes from the book. There are also quizzes for every few chapters which will show if students are comprehending on a literal level (there are very few inferential questions).
  • Interactive: This website is from Scholastic and shows an interactive map of Naomi. Each building brings up a new activity. The activities include: reader's theater, scrap book, the writing process, information about the author, stills of the movie, a maze game and more! This website would be great to bookmark on a classroom computer.

Vocabulary: Here are some words that may need to be pretaught or could be used for word study: preacher, produce, missionary, sermon, exception, orphan, installment plan, pathological, criminal, shame (as a verb), ignorant, enlist, vermin, sorrow, melancholy, myth

Before Reading: Ask students if they have ever had a pet. This could be used as a writing prompt or in a think/pair/share format. This will help students focus on pets as pets are an important part of this story.

During Reading
  • Before Opal brings Winn-Dixie home: What do you think Opal's dad is going to say about Winn Dixie? Will he let her keep him? Will her father like Winn-Dixie?
  • After Winn-Dixie is allowed in church, at the library, in the pet store, etc. Why do you think Winn-Dixie is allowed into places where dogs are usually not allowed?
After Reading/Writing
  • How does the relationship between Opal and her father change from the beginning of the book to the end? Give at least 3 examples of this change and what made the change occur.
  • Write a list of 10 qualities that describe who you are. Use the list of things about Opal's mom to help you get started.
Check out the Because of Winn-Dixie movie (& leave a comment to let me know how it is!)

DiCamillo, Kate. Because of Winn-Dixie . Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2000. Print.
Newbery Honor Book

Happy Reading (&Running) =)

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