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The learner will analyze the plot structure of James and the Giant Peach by creating either an “excitement graph” or a “story map”.
A copy of James and the Giant Peach, 12” by 18” white construction or drawing paper, ruler or yardstick, pencil.
PROCEDURE: As you read the novel, important and less important events will occur. For either of these plotting activities, use only main events that take place. For more visual learners or for an extra layer of comprehension, learners may use small sketches of scenes to accompany their one sentence summaries.
For the Excitement Graph:
1. With the paper oriented horizontally (landscape mode), make a 0-10 number line up the far left and right sides of the paper. Connect the numbers on each side of the paper with a pencil line.
2. When an important event happens, write a brief, one sentence description of it next to a dot or similar mark that you place on your graph according to how “exciting” or interesting you feel it is. For instance, when James goes to live with his Aunts, it might not be an exciting event, but it is an important one. It might go on the number 1 or 2 line. However, when the peach falls off the tree, crushes his Aunts and rolls into town crashing through a factory, this certainly could be placed up at the 9 or 10 line.
3. After all major events from the novel are plotted on the lines, connect your dots or marks. This provides a visual representation of how the action rises and falls throughout the story.
For the Story Map:
1. Orient the paper horizontally (landscape mode). Starting at the bottom left corner, draw a gently sloping line up to the top of the page about 8/10 of the way across. Draw a line from this “peak” down to the far right corner of the paper.
2. Write one sentence summaries of major events along the rising slope. Events will progress as the action rises to the climax, then descend down as the resolution unfolds.
1. After plot analysis is complete, take main events and write a single paragraph summary of the entire novel.
2. Create a movie poster for the book. Include images that relate to the major, exciting events that you mapped or graphed.
James and the Giant Peach Plot Analysis Activities
This series of articles includes lesson plans teaching the book James and the Giant Peach to upper fourth graders or lower fifth graders. With modifications, the book could be taught anywhere from third to sixth grade.