Maniac Magee is a Newbery award winner written in the form of a folk tale. Maniac’s amazing athletic ability gets the attention of the
people living in Two Mills but his tolerance of all types of people makes the biggest impact on the town.
If you have used the other articles in this series (links at the bottom of the page), your students have acquired new vocabulary, found examples of literary devices, answered comprehension questions about the book and played a baseball game reviewing book details. This Maniac Magee lesson plan contains a creative writing assignment, group activity and teacher resources on Maniac Magee for extension activities.
Extend the Tale
The tale of Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee reports his amazing abilities in football, baseball, long-distance running and rescuing victims of bullies. Here is an activity to extend the story:
1.Students need to think of another super-human skill that Maniac possesses.
2.Brainstorm individual things that he is able to do with this skill and write down the ideas.
3. How will Maniac’s ability impact the town or its inhabitants? Write it down.
4. Now write a one-page short story that could fit in with the rest of the book focusing on this new skill.
5. Include at least three of these literary devices: simile, metaphor, alliteration, allusion or hyperbole
Metaphor– comparing things by saying one thing is another
The ice on the pond is a mirror in the morning sun.
Simile– comparing two unlike things using the words like, as or as though
He ran like a rabbit escaping the fox.
Alliteration– the repetition ( at least two in a row) of the initial consonant.
Maniac Magee managed to melt the stone heart of the mild-mannered man.
Hyperbole– a figure of speech using exaggeration
I’ve told you one hundred times to clean your room.
Allusion– Using a reference to a famous person or event in real life or literature
Her red shoes sparkled like Dorothy’s in the Wizard of Oz.
Divide students into smalls groups of three or four people. Using the theme of the book, the group must create a short skit focusing on one of the following topics: racism, discrimination, segregation or examples of tolerance and nonjudgmental behaviors.
Knowing your own students, you–as the teacher, should list specific guidelines for your class in terms of appropriate language and costumes for the skit.
Allow time for discussion and assessment following each skit. Has the group followed the guidelines? Have we learned or reinforced a lesson from the book?
Teacher resources on Maniac Magee are numerous. Below is a list of books with a similar theme: racism. Included are two books with a “sillier” format but they have a strong underlying message.
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman- This is the story of a talented girl who is denied the role of Peter Pan in a play because she is black and a girl.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor- This is the story of an African American facing racism in the south in the 1930’s.
Sounder by William Armstrong- This is a story of a young black boy and his dog. He gains courage after his father is jailed for stealing food.
The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss- The Zooks and the Yooks fight over how they butter bread. The battle escalates to ridiculous proportions until no one knows how the fight originated. The message shows us that sometimes our fights begin without a logical reason.
Sneetches by Dr. Seuss- Those who have a star on their bellies are entitled to good things. Is this fair? Why should someone get good things just because they have a star on their bellies or because of the color of their skin?
Fishing Day by Andrea Pinkney- An African American mother and daughter are fishing and help some white neighbors.
Maniac Magee– audio recording is available. A movie was made but difficult to find.
Teaching children about racism can be a difficult task. As the teacher, your most important job is to be a positive role model by showing tolerance and nonjudgmental behavior. Using the Maniac Magee lesson plan articles and teacher resources on Maniac Magee, you can have a complete unit which can make a big impact as the children go out into the world. Spread peace and tolerance one person at a time.