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Novel Unit - Because of Winn Dixie

Compiled By: Mrs. G

This is a collection of activities to use when teaching Because of Winn Dixie.

Because of Winn-Dixie
Posted by: Kathy Luksich

I teach fourth grade, and recently read Winn-Dixie to my class. Absolutly wonderful! We read it first in our "Teachers as Readers" group, and we all loved it. Well, it's even better with kids! It's great for working on major/minor characters, plot, cause and effect, etc, but more than that, it is a "heart" story. It brings up great conversation. The girl doesn't know her mother, but this doesn't seem too heavy for kids dealing with loss. She asks her father to tell her for "ten things about her mother." I used it to have my kids write ten things about someone. We also used it to talk about "can't judge a book by its cover" issues. The most influential character (Gloria Dump) is an old, wrinkled mostly blind woman, who turns out to be a real gem. I can't recommend this book highly enough! Feel free to write with more questions!

Posted by: djm

I absolutely loved this book. My fifth graders also absolutely loved this book! I found this book to be a wonderful launch for many writing activities. Our favorite was when I gave each student a "Littmus Lozenge"(really a Jolly rancher candy) and they had to write in their journals about something that was sweet yet a little meloncholy. I was impressed with what I got back. It is amazing how introspective 10 yr. olds can be given the right motivation. This book is also great for sequencing and teaching about "voice" in
writing. Our entire grade level has read this book. It reads very well outloud. Enjoy!

"Because of Winn Dixie"
Posted by: Rosalind Orofino

I just began the book also with my class. In the past I used this book to help fourth graders to carry main ideas and theme across the chapters of the book. This is also a great book with a strong character. We create sociograms and character webs. As a part of grammar we examine DiCamillo's use of language and punctuation to create an emphasis..."And ugly. ..." I follow this novel with Cynthia Rylant's "The Van Gogh Cafe" The chapter formats are similar and the writing style is similar. I end with reading The Tiger Rising in June. By then the children really focus on reading like writer's and compare the style of writing, character development and themes in the story.

Winn Dixie
Posted by: Lisa

I really love this book and my kids did too. I even had some that just had to read it again. We did a unit on heroes and everyday heroes. One of the heroes we did was India and the reason she is a hero/We created a coat of arms and turned the whole lesson into a bulletin board activity. It was great to see the students look at the inside of people and not ONLY the physical aspects (like Jordan, our wonderful ball player)!

Character traits
Posted by: Peggy

I think I might take some brown paper and cut it to look like a grocery bag. I will then punch the sides and tie with twine. We will use each page to describe different characters in the book, and make an illustration to go along with description. I don't know who this will work, but it's all I have now. I also have a sister who lives in Florida, (I live in the north) who is sending me a Winn-Dixie bag so the kids can see there really is a Winn Dixie and what the logo is. If you've come up with anything else please let me know.

venn diagram
Posted by: kt

I always do Winn-Dixie as a read aloud, then get permission from parents to show the movie (it's PG). The kids fill out a venn-diagram comparing the movie with the book. My premise is that the book is "always" better than the movie. They usually agree with me by the end. It is a great exercise, and I'm always surprised at how many similarities and differences that they find. I also do this with "James and the Giant Peach." The kids get mad that the Cloudmen are left out of the movie! BTW, the only media production that I've found that IS better than the book is "Wicked."

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A few ideas...
Posted by: MrsCrystal

When I read it with my lower 5th grade readers, we kept a running list of things that started with the phrase "Because of Winn-Dixie..." Believe it or not, something that simple brought out a TON of really thoughtful observations! Some examples they came up with were:

Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal isn't lonely anymore.
...Opal met (whoever--can't remember character names anymore!)
...Opal learned how to communicate with her dad

There's also a lot you can do with figurative language: the imagery of the father as a turtle with his head pulled in is repeated several times, and the book is full of similes, metaphors, and personification.

Hope that helps!

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Posted by: kmob

My school starts either with Shiloh or Because of Winn Dixie

If they've read Shiloh in 4th grade some teachers use the others in the triology...Saving Shiloh and Shiloh Season

(I've posted a packet we do with Because of Winn Dixie)

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Egg Salad
Posted by: Mrs. G

Opal and Gloria fix egg salad sandwiches on white bread for their party. You can do the same thing with your class. Have students bring in their recipie for egg salad or have parents send in batches of egg salad. Let the kids put the sandwiches together on white bread.