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Novel Unit - Maniac Magee

Compiled By: Mrs. G

A collection of activities to use with the novel Maniac Magee.

Maniac Magee
Posted by: Carolyn B.

We are currently reading this book in reading class. This is the third year in a row that I have used the book with my fifth grade students. I feel a little uncomfortable with the racial issues and the way they are explored, but I think that some important values are brought out here, as well as some important lessons. We read it in small segments, which is possible, since the chapters are so short. The two classes I have had who have finished the book with me loved it. They enjoyed the strong characters like McNab and Mars Bar. They sympathize with Maniac's homelessness. I wasn't sure if the kids would like it, but they did. I hope my kids this year enjoy it as much.

By the way, it will probably take us until March to finish it, because we do a lot of activities with it. One is the making up of a skit which the kids videotape. We also reconstruct scenes from the book and have a knot untying contest. I think it's a great way to get the kids involved with the book.

Maniac Magee BB Ideas
Posted by: Amy Lee

One idea is a bulletin board where you divide it into two like the city where the main action occurs is divided by race. Another bulletin board idea is to do the setting for the story including where it begins, all the places Maniac visits, and where the story ends. You could use the theme "Where in the world is Maniac Magee?" You make a paper replica of Maniac Magee or have the students make a drawing of what they think a Maniac Magee looks like as a prereading activity. Then have a daily student leader move the paper figure to certain locations on the bulletin board such as the Beale home, zoo, etc.

I hope this helps.

Maniac Magee
Posted by: Kristin

While reading Maniac Magee, teach the children different forms of figurative language (similes,metaphors, exaggerations, idioms, puns, etc.) It is a PERFECT book for teaching this concept, since it is used a great deal throughout the book. My kids absolutely had a ball learning and experimenting with figurative language and then picking the different forms out in the novel.
It also makes great bulletin board decorations for others to laugh at. Ex. "What's wrong, cat got your tongue?" The child can draw a cat pulling a person's tongue. Have fun.

Maniac Magee
Posted by: Emily Gill

My class also has a lunch where we make zeps. I break them into groups and we send the sandwiches down the "assembly line." Also, I split my class into West End and East End. They make class banners and we put tape on the floor to divide the groups. They compete in various activities to earn points. This works well for classroom management too. One day, we began reading by trying to "run on the rails" like Maniac. We went to the gym and attemped to run down the lines without stepping off.

maniac magee
Posted by: Kelli

Hi, I just finished reading this story with my fourth graders and they loved it. I had them do a variety of activities, such as create a new jump rope song for maniac and create a wanted poster that the beales made when Maniac ran away from their home. hope this helps!

Maniac Magee
Posted by: Beth

This is a great book. One note of caution. I used a Venn diagram to determine the differences between the McNabb's home and the Beale's home. The students then wrote a compare/contrast paper. I had one student pick up the on the sentence that mentioned submachine guns, UK47, etc. and elaborate on that one sentence. With the school violence issue, you might discuss this sentence in relation to the McNabb's ignorance of many other issues. While that one sentence was not the focus of the book, it did cause one mother to question using the book in school.

Posted by: p

Interesting comment about Maniac Magee. When we encountered the "bad words" in the story, we talked about how the author used them to paint a better character picture of the main character and his friends, how the language related to his life, social environment, etc. The children did not overreact or "ooh and aah"--they accepted it as an author's technique. Funny how we approach issues in such vastly different ways--I guess that's what makes teaching so unique and different for all of us! As for uttering a "bad" word or not, let's face it, it can happen. An apology and determined effort to not do it again will suffice--we all make errors, and unfortunately, in this day of television, video games, and music (if we can actually call some it that) our students have heard more than we ever heard when we were growing up. Sad, but true, I think some of them are desensitized to it. Anyone else have a thought on this?

Maniac Magee Book vs. Video
Posted by: Liam Neeson

My sixth grade students read the book MANIAC MAGEE before watching the Nickelodeon version. It is a great movie to show how a book can be so much more rewarding than television. Out of all of my students polled; from reluctant readers to tome consumers the 100 percent consensus was the video was lacking, and they all enjoyed the novel by far. The lesson I have created for the reading and then viewing of the movie of MANIAC MAGEE is to tap into the four learning styles. For the random concrete or beachball the student can rewrite a new script combining elements from both versions and they may act it out. For the random abstract or puppydog; draw a scene from the book and draw the same scene from the movie showing the differences. For the concrete sequential/clipboard create two timelines showcases the differences between the two. Finally for the microscope or the abstract sequential student argue which version is better the movie or the book. I have been impressed by my students evidence of higher order thinking.

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illustrated time line
Posted by: sunnyd

I like to have student do an illustrated time line of Jeffery's first day in Two Mills. The students can get pretty creative with this.

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Posted by: kristen_teach

We focus a lot on the figurative language in this book- what do the similes/ metaphors really mean? A lot of the kids had a literal understanding so we tried to take it beyond that.

We did a final project where we created a bb with drawings of this town. We had to go back through the book for references. Each student picked one place (Amanda's house, the zoo, the Pizza Place, etc), looked in the book for references on what it might look like and drew it. We then placed it where it went in the town. The kids were working on 3D drawings in art so it was a really nice connection.

I have heard of teachers having a day where the kids had a chance to run the rails or eat Zeps (is that what the sandwiches were called). We didn't do these activities though.

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