This is a great story for students to make a timeline, write essays on the book's themes and complete activities that summarize the story, a Newbury Medal winner.
Creating a Timeline
Have students create a storyline based upon the events in the book Holes. There are actually three different time frames intertwined into one by the author that explains why a curse was put on Stanley's great-great grandfather and what the warden of Camp Green Lake is looking for.
- In the 1800s, Latvia Stanley's great-great grandfather gets a curse put on him after forgetting an important promise he made to a gypsy and running away with the woman he fell in love with.
- In the 1800s, Texas a white school teacher named Katherine goes mad after her black boyfriend is killed and becomes the Kissing Bandit, robbing people of their fortunes. She robs Stanley's great-great grandfather and puts the money in a chest and buries it.
- Present day Texas is narrated by Stanley Yelnats. This is the setting of the story with flashbacks to the other two eras occurring throughout the story. The warden has boys in the detention center dig holes all day to find Stanley's grandfather's stolen fortune which is buried on the land. Stanley and his friend Zero end up finding the treasure which has the name "Stanley Yelnats" printed on it. The warden attempts to take it from them but Stanley's lawyer shows up to let him know that he is free and can take the suitcase.
Give students a sheet of construction paper and have them write "Holes Time Line" at the top of the page and a straight line going across the page directly underneath it. Students will create lines going down the horizontal line and label them '1800s Latvia', '1800s Texas' and 'Present Day Texas'. Students should list important parts of the story under each date.
Writing About the Story
Holes lesson plans can include writing assignments for students. Use all the elements of writing including prewriting, editing and revision. If students have trouble getting their ideas discuss the writing themes in length, tell them to write all of the information they can think of about an assignment on the paper and edit them after everything is written down.
- The book introduces students to themes such as the environment as a metaphor for the characters' emotional states. For example, Camp Crystal Lake being dry, hot and filled with mean staff while the mountain that Stanley escapes to is lush and green. Explain to students what metaphors are and have them practice writing a story that contains metaphors. Review them with students to make sure that they understand them and have created them properly.
- Holes also shows students how names refer to just one part of a person. For example, Katherine is the name given to a school teacher, but it changes to Kissing Bandit when she begins robbing people of their possessions. Discuss the use of nicknames with students and ask them to write an opinion essay addressing the use of names and if they accurately describe an individual.
Summarizing the Book
Teachers, have students summarize the events in the story. Use the following activities after reading the book.
- The students make a list about the characters in the story and take notes.
- Make a book report of the story discussing what the story is about, the characters and their development in the story as well as themes, conflicts and resolutions in the book.
- Make a concept map to study from. Write the name of the story in the center of a sheet of paper and connect boxes or circles attached by lines to important elements, themes and incidents. It may be easier to create a concept map for each chapter of the book and then students can just look over their papers to study.
If you have additional Holes activities to share Holes with other teachers, please leave them in the comment section.