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Hatchet Book by Gary Paulsen

Teacher Guide by Becky Harvey

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Middle School ELA Category!

Student Activities for Hatchet Include:

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen tells the story of Brian, a young boy who survives a plane crash that leaves him alone in the wilderness in Canada. Through internal conflict, external forces working against him, and with the help of his hatchet (a recent present from his mother), Brian learns to survive on his own. Paulsen breaks down the different types of conflict and helps his readers better understand how small event can affect the larger plot of a story.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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A Quick Synopsis of Hatchet

Thirteen-year-old Brian is flying to see his dad, following his parents’ stressful divorce and split custody agreement. He has been living with his mom in New York, and is flying in a small airplane to visit his dad. When his pilot (the only other person in the plane) has a heart attack, Brian survives the ensuing crash-landing and has to learn how to survive alone in the woods of Canada. Banged up and without gear, Brian faces wild animals, brutal weather, and his own doubts and fears. He also spends a lot of time thinking about his “big secret”.

Time passes, and Brian becomes more adept at surviving. Luckily, as a going-away gift, his mom had given him a hatchet to take with him. Brian is able to create fire with the hatchet, a surprising turn of events that winds up helping with much of his survival efforts. He also learns to fish with a spear that he whittles with the hatchet. Eventually, he figures out how to catch meat, a huge accomplishment in his eyes. Some of his more memorable struggles include being pierced by porcupine quills, being blinded by skunk spray when he attempts to keep it from eating his foraged turtle eggs, having a run-in with a bear, and being brutally attacked by a moose. Brian also survives hordes of mosquitoes, near starvation, and a massive tornado.

His character grows stronger throughout the book, physically and mentally. After much toil and fearful happenings, Brian is finally rescued - alive, and with a better outlook on his life.


Essential Questions for Hatchet

  1. How can a single event change the direction of a plot?
  2. What is conflict, and how does the author use it in this work of literature?
  3. What qualities/skills (both mental and physical) are required to survive alone and without resources?

Hatchet Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Hatchet Book Vocabulary


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Using the Frayer Model is a great way for students to examine a specific vocabulary word. To start, students choose a word and put that word in the center title box.

In the upper left box, students include the definition and part of speech in the description box (I suggest having students use a dictionary, online or in print, to complete this part). Using Photos For Class, our website for safe, auto-cited Creative Commons images, students can find corresponding images to use as examples.


  • Upper left box: students write definition.
  • Upper right box: students include the sentence in which the word is found in the text and re-create the scene.
  • Lower left box: students show how the word could be used/found in a real-life example.
  • Lower right hand box: they give an example of where/how the word would NOT be used.

  • There are a number of words in Hatchet that your students may be unfamiliar with. Below is a list of suggested vocabulary words that students will come across in their reading.


    Example Hatchet Vocabulary Words

    • antiseptic
    • asset
    • crude
    • exasperation
    • flailing
    • frantic
    • gorge
    • grimacing
    • hefted
    • massively
    • pulverized
    • stable
    • transmitter
    • turbulence
    • unduly
    Hatchet - Frayer Model - Vocabulary
    Create your own at Storyboard That Image Attributions: Altimeter (https://www.flickr.com/photos/leighklotz/16629858958/) - leighklotz - License: Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) DEFINITIONS EXAMPLE FROM BOOK EXAMPLES NON-EXAMPLES n. an instrument for determining altitude attained, especially a barometric or radar device used in an aircraft. "Down beneath that were dials with lines that seemed to indicate what the wings were doing, tipping or moving, and one dial with a needle pointing to the number 70, which he thought—only thought—might be the altimeter." Altimeters are used by pilots and skydivers. Altimeters are not found in cars or trucks. ALTIMETER BIBLES

    Example

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


    Student Instructions

    Create a Frayer Model for one of the vocabulary words from Hatchet.


    1. Choose a vocabulary word and type it into the center title box.
    2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and enter it into the description box under Definition.
    3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the Definition 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.
    4. Quote the use of the word from the book, and recreate the scene.
    5. Provide written and visual examples of the word.
    6. Provide written and visual non-examples of the word.



    Frayer Model Template
    Create your own at Storyboard That DEFINITIONS QUOTE FROM TEXT EXAMPLES NON-EXAMPLES WORD / CONCEPT

    Example

    (Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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    Hatchet Sequence of Events


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    In literature, readers need to understand that the sequence of events can play a very important role in the overall plot. There are varying ways to show sequencing. In Hatchet, one could choose to show the plane crash, Brian tending to his porcupine injuries, or his rescue.

    In this example, we show how Brian goes from starving, with nothing to eat, to foraging, hunting, and fishing for his survival. Whether students decide to show a big picture, or a more focused view, it is important to show how order affects the story. Without proper sequencing of important events, plots don't really come together.

    Have students think of a series of events with a discernible connection, and create a storyboard that shows something that develops in the sequence. Perhaps the events will show Brian's evolution of his survival skills, how he copes with loneliness, or his ability to be patient.

    Hatchet Sequencing the story
    Create your own at Storyboard That Brian has no food and is terrified that he will starve after he survived the crash. He finds some turtle eggs and decides to eat them, even though he doesn't have any fire. He then realizes that he can forage for berries. He finds raspberries and some other berries that he describes as "gut cherries," that taste horrible and make his stomach hurt. He realizes that he is not the only one foraging when he sees a very large bear. Eventually, Brian is able to begin hunting and fishing when he makes a spear and a bow and arrow. He is slowly learning how to feed himself.

    Example

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


    Student Instructions

    Create a storyboard with a sequence of events in Hatchet that shows a development over time.


    1. Choose an aspect of the story that develops over the course of the book, such as Brian's survival skills.
    2. Select three events that show how the aspect develops over time.
    3. Illustrate each event in three separate cells.
    4. Below each cell, type in a description about the importance of that part of the story.



    Sequence of Events Template
    Create your own at Storyboard That EVENT ONE EVENT TWO EVENT THREE Description Description Description

    Example

    (Use this rubric or create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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    Hatchet Character Map


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    Though there are only a few characters in the Hatchet book, and each one has a very powerful impact on the protagonist, Brian. In this character map, students should think about the impact each character has on Brian and his ability to survive after the crash.


    Hatchet - Character Map
    Create your own at Storyboard That Brian Robeson The Pilot Brian's Mom Brian's Dad Terry Mr. Perpich