Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo tells the story of 10 year old Opal, who moves with her father, the local preacher, to a trailer park in small town Naomi, Florida. Opal is lonely. Her father is too busy to spend much time with her and she misses her friends in her old town. One summer Opal meets a stray dog in the local grocery store and takes him home. She names the dog after the store, Winn-Dixie. Together with Winn-Dixie, Opal begins to make friends in the local community and finally asks her father about her mama, who left when Opal was three.
Because of Winn-Dixie is a fantastic book to study in the classroom. The book addresses many issues and there are strong themes that run through the story. These include:
- Acceptance of others
There is so much that students will gain from reading this book and so many learning opportunities. Read on for my top Because of Winn-Dixie activities and ideas to accompany this wonderful book study.
Character studies are where students can look at things from someone else’ point of view. Through character studies, students can see how events of the past can affect the character’s behavior in the present. Some character activities include using descriptive language to description a character, recording likes and dislikes, as well describing how the character from Because of Winn-Dixie reacts to an event in the story. Other character ideas to help students gain a deeper understanding include compare and contrasting characters, for example Opal and Winn-Dixie, as well as comparing and contrasting how a character has changed throughout the course of the story.
I find a great way to allow students to explore a setting is to use their senses. Ask students to picture themselves in a setting in the novel, such as the grocery store or Gertrude’s Pets. Consider each sense and ask students to think about what they can see, hear, smell and feel. I use these as plans for students to write their own setting description of a setting, focusing on descriptive language such as adjectives and adverbs.
Because of Winn-Dixie Reading Strategy Activities
A book review is great place to start when thinking about reading strategy ideas. Who who enjoy the book, summarize the main events, what was your favourite part etc. This helps students to analyze the book and think about the audience. Other great reading strategy activities include making connections, thinking about cause and effect of events in the novel and matching problems with their solutions in the story.
There are many opportunities for creative writing tasks based on Because of Winn-Dixie. This is great opportunities to explore different types of writing genres. For example, students could write a newspaper article about the stray do in the grocery store. They could explore arguments for and against Opal keeping the dog. Students could write a persuasive letter to the preacher asking him to allow her to keep Winn-Dixie. Other writing activities could include creating a fact files based on 10 things about me, creating a lost dog poster and writing an invitation to Gloria’s party. .
A novel study is always a great opportunity to explore new words students come across in the story. Record words that are unfamiliar and use dictionaries to find the definitions of these new words. You can differentiate this activity with more support by having students match a word to given definition rather than writing the definition themselves.
Cross Curricular Because of Winn-Dixie Book Activities
Looking for themes within the book that enhance learning in other areas of the curriculum is great way for students to make those connections and see how different subjects relate to each other. Some great cross-curricular activities based on the ideas in Because of Winn-Dixie can include creating a fact file on the state of Florida, studying and identifying star constellations, creating an arial map of the town of Naomi and creating a guide on how to look after a pet. If you would like to try any other of the book activities mentioned above, you will find them all in this wonderful Because of Winn-Dixie Novel Study. It is packed with over 100 pages of no-prep book activities which will save you time and that your students will love.
Find templates for setting descriptions and reading activities including making connections, cause of effect, problem and solution and a book review.
Packed full with fun Because of Winn-Dixie writing activities.
It comes complete with vocabulary activities as well as chapter summary worksheets.
Also included are chapter summary questions complete with answer keys, perfect for assessing student comprehension of the story.
You can grab this excellent Because of Winn-Dixie Novel Study here!
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Check out my ideas for other novel studies: