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Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

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Because of Winn Dixie Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Because of Winn-Dixie Include:

Because of Winn-Dixie is a charming story about a little girl whose lonely life improves after rescuing and befriending a stray dog. This story warms up any dog lover and touches readers who have experienced loss or sadness in their lives.

Because of Winn-Dixie Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Because of Winn Dixie Theme


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Several themes are present in the novel. Students can pick a theme to explore and should support their choice with specific details or events from the text. One prominent theme is, “friendship”. Throughout the novel, Opal meets members in the community and builds relationships with them.


Friendship

  • The first friend she makes is Winn-Dixie; she takes him home and makes him a part of her family.
  • Later, she meets Otis, a depressed pet store manager, who gives her a job.
  • Opal also befriends Amanda, who she originally thought was “pinch-faced” and not a nice girl.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Because of Winn Dixie. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Because of Winn Dixie you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Because of Winn Dixie Characters


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In this activity, students can depict the characters in the story, paying close attention to their physical characteristics and actions in the story.

Characters included in the character map are:

  • India Opal Buloni
  • The Preacher
  • Miss Franny
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Sweetie Pie Thomas
  • Gloria Dump
  • Otis
  • Amanda Wilkinson

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.


  1. Identify the major characters in Because of Winn Dixie and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the Textables for Physical Traits, Character's Actions, and How Does the Character Change?.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Because of Winn Dixie Summary


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In this activity students synthesize and summarize the text. Students’ work should reflect their understanding of the beginning, middle, and end of the novel, and display this understanding through the use of the images, dialogue, and sentences.



Example Because of Winn Dixie Summary

Beginning

Opal finds a stray dog running through a grocery store. She takes him home to ask her father if she can keep him.


Middle

Opal finds herself making new friends and building relationships with the help of her dog, Winn-Dixie.


End

Opal is happier than ever with her friends, her father, and her dog surrounding her.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Make a storyboard summary of Because of Winn Dixie.


  1. Make a picture that shows the beginning of the story.
  2. Make a picture that shows the middle of the story.
  3. Make a picture that shows the end of the story.
  4. Write a sentence under each picture.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Because of Winn-Dixie Vocabulary


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In this activity, students strengthen and show their understanding of vocabulary words using storyboards. Students may be provided with the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text. The sentences and images of their storyboards demonstrate their understanding of the word, and the context that it was used in the novel.


Example Vocabulary from Because of Winn-Dixie

  • insulted
  • preacher
  • slithering
  • Dixie
  • opal
  • litmus
  • potluck
  • suffering
  • dump
  • skid
  • constellation
  • likable
  • homeless
  • errand
  • convict
  • congregation
  • lozenge
  • exception
  • fortunate
  • pathological

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Because of Winn-Dixie by creating visualizations.


  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the story and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.



(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Because of Winn-Dixie - Compare and Contrast

In order to demonstrate understanding of comparing and contrasting characters, students should choose two characters and identify their similarities and differences.


For example: Opal and Amanda



  1. Have experienced a loss in their life: Opal’s mother left her, and Amanda’s brother drowned.
  2. Enjoy spending time with Miss Franny, reading books and listening to stories.
  3. A difference between the two girls is in their personalities; Opal is very social and makes friends easily, while Amanda is very shy and is often alone.
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Because of Winn-Dixie - Setting

Students can identify the setting of the story and validate their understanding of setting using textual evidence.

For example:

Setting #1: Opal’s trailer park home.

Textual Evidence: “This was an all adult trailer park and the only reason why I got to live in it was because the preacher was a preacher and I was a good, quiet kid.”

Setting #2: Church

Textual Evidence: “The Open Arms Baptist Church of Naomi isn’t a regular-looking church…people bring in their own foldup chairs and lawn chairs…”

Setting #3: Pet Store

Textual Evidence: “Winn-Dixie was not allowed to come inside the store (there was a big sign on the door that said NO DOGS ALLOWED…”

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A Quick Synopsis of Because of Winn-Dixie

India Opal Buloni is a young girl who lives with her father, a preacher, in a trailer park. On a grocery run, Opal finds the store in disarray as a dirty dog runs up and down the aisles. Instead of letting the dog go to the pound, Opal claims the dog as her own, and names him after the grocery store: Winn-Dixie. Opal takes him home to her father in hopes that she can keep him; Winn-Dixie wins over the preacher with his wide smile and charming personality.

Opal and the preacher quickly realize that this dog does not like to be left alone: he pulls off the couch cushions, unrolls the toilet paper, and howls if he is tied outside. Opal and the her father have no choice but to bring Winn-Dixie to church with them. This results in a bit of chaos at first, but once again Winn-Dixie wins the heart of everyone as he catches a mouse, but gently holds it in his teeth, careful not to hurt it.

As he begins to look healthy, Opal decides to get him a new leash and collar from Gertrude’s Pets. She cannot afford the items and asks Otis, the pet store owner, if she can work for him in order to pay for her desired items. Not surprisingly, Winn-Dixie wins over Otis (and his pet parrot Gertrude) and Opal is given a job. Opal is thrilled with the new friends she has made thanks to Winn-Dixie.

One day Opal rides her bike past Dunlap and Stevie Dewberry’s house; they begin following her and whispering behind her back. The brothers tease her about getting close to a house that is supposedly inhabited by a witch. Before she can stop him, he runs straight into the witch’s yard. Opal decides she loves her dog more than she fears witches, so she goes in after him. Here, Opal meets the “witch”, Gloria Dump, a crinkly, kind, old woman with bad vision. Gloria asks Opal to talk about herself so that she can see her with her heart. Opal is thrilled to tell her everything: how she misses her mom, how her dad hides in his "turtle shell", how she got a job, how she was invited to a party, and how the Dunlap boys are mean to her. Gloria listens thoughtfully to everything Opal shares.

That night there is a terrible thunderstorm that wakes Winn-Dixie. Opal and the preacher determine that he has a pathological fear of thunderstorms; they realize that they must watch Winn-Dixie carefully during thunderstorms so that he doesn’t run away.

One day at the library, Miss Franny Block tells Opal, Winn-Dixie, and Amanda about her great-grandfather and the Civil War. Miss Franny gives them all a Littmus Lozenge, a candy her great-grandfather invented. Everyone tries one and agrees that the candy is a mixture of root beer, strawberry, and sorrow. Opal recognizes that everyone feels some sadness, from the past, inside them. She also realizes that she cannot judge people for the mistakes they have made.

As Opal builds relationships with members of the community, she decides to have a party and invite all of her new friends. Just as everyone arrives to the party, a sudden, terrible downpour occurs. All the guests rush inside, trying to save the punch and the egg salad sandwiches. Opal had forgotten about Winn-Dixie and, with a feeling of dread, she runs outside to find him; she fears that he has run away. Opal and her father search and search, but soon her father says that it’s time to give up.

At this point Opal is honest with her father for the first time. She blames him for living in his "turtle shell" and accuses him of letting her mother walk out on them. As a result, the preacher breaks down into tears over the loss of Opal’s mother, but Opal comforts him and recognizes that she and her father need each other. The two return to Gloria’s empty-handed. Winn-Dixie, however, had been hiding under the bed all along! Opal is thrilled and relieved that her dog is safe. The party continues on with Opal and her friends happily singing together.


Essential Questions for Because of Winn-Dixie

  1. What is family?
  2. Why are relationships important?
  3. Do you think all people have sadness inside of them? Why or why not?
  4. Why is it wrong to judge others?


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•   (English) Because of Winn-Dixie   •   (Español) Debido a Winn-Dixie   •   (Français) À Cause de Winn-Dixie   •   (Deutsch) Wegen Winn-Dixie   •   (Italiana) Because of Winn-Dixie   •   (Nederlands) Omwille van Winn-Dixie   •   (Português) Por Causa de Winn-Dixie   •   (עברית) בגלל סופר-מר   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) بسبب وين ديكسي   •   (हिन्दी) Winn-डिक्सी के कारण   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Из-за Винн-Дикси   •   (Dansk) På Grund af Winn-Dixie   •   (Svenska) På Grund av Winn-Dixie   •   (Suomi) Koska Winn-Dixie   •   (Norsk) På Grunn av Winn-Dixie   •   (Türkçe) Winn-Dixie Yüzünden   •   (Polski) Z Powodu Winn-Dixie   •   (Româna) Din Cauza Winn-Dixie   •   (Ceština) Kvůli Winn-Dixie   •   (Slovenský) Z Dôvodu Winn-Dixie   •   (Magyar) Mivel a Winn-Dixie   •   (Hrvatski) Zbog Winn-Dixie   •   (български) Заради Уин Дикси   •   (Lietuvos) Dėl Winn-Dixie   •   (Slovenščina) Zaradi Winn-Dixie   •   (Latvijas) Sakarā ar Winn-Dixie   •   (eesti) Kuna Winn-Dixie