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Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Teacher Guide by Bridget Baudinet

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

Student Activities for Julie of the Wolves Include:

Julie of the Wolves tells the story of a young Eskimo girl, Miyax, who survives in the Arctic by making friends with a wolf pack. Throughout her adventure, she falls in love with the majesty of the natural world and struggles to accept that she must return to civilization. So vivid is Jean Craighead George’s depiction of the animal world that readers will fall in love with the wolves alongside Miyax. The novel introduces readers to the unique biome of the Arctic and the unique behaviors of the gray wolf. It also depicts many aspects of traditional Inuit culture and explores the challenges of assimilation and modernization felt by the native peoples.

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




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Before Reading

Julie of the Wolves contains many meticulously researched details about the Arctic gray wolf. Nevertheless, it is a work of fiction and takes liberties in the depiction of Miyax’s interactions with the wolves. Students may be curious about the accuracy of the story, and might benefit from supplementing their novel study with some science background. Consider having students begin or end the novel by watching a documentary like the one linked below. Students can use this information to inform their reading and compare and contrast real wolves with those in the novel. Other useful scientific pre-reading might include background on plants of the tundra and the unusual pattern of sunlight during the Arctic summers and winters.


In addition to the scientific background, students may also benefit from an introduction to Inuit culture and history. The Inuits belong to an ethnic group that once extended from Siberia, Russia, through Alaska and Canada, and as far as Greenland. For thousands of years, these people survived in the cold Arctic climate through hunting. Their lives began to change with the coming of Europeans and, in particular, with the rise of the whaling industry and introduction of new diseases in the late nineteenth century. The whaling industry eliminated the Inuit trade patterns, forcing many hunters to find a new way of surviving. New jobs, combined with a declining population due to disease, caused many Inuits to resettle on the coast in more populated areas. Although the U.S. government provided support and opportunities for the Inuit population, it also forced assimilation at the expense of Inuit heritage and preferences. The tension between the old ways and the new is one of the most important thematic elements of Julie of the Wolves. For further study of this topic, have students explore the following web page: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Inuit.html.


Essential Questions for Julie of the Wolves

  1. When do you think it might be better for a person to endure rather than escape a difficult situation? When might it be better to leave or escape difficult circumstances?
  2. What is your family heritage? In what ways does your heritage influence your life?
  3. What kinds of relationships can humans have with animals?
  4. How does setting influence the plot and characters in a story?
  5. What role do flashbacks play in a story?

Julie of the Wolves Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Julie of the Wolves Summary


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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. The structure of Julie of the Wolves can be difficult to outline since it jumps around in time. To help with students’ understanding of the sequence of events, have them trace the plot events in chronological order. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example Julie of the Wolves Plot Diagram

Exposition

Miyax, a 13-year-old girl in the Pacific Northwest, lives between two worlds: the world of the Eskimo and the world of 1970s America. Although she has inherited Eskimo knowledge and pride from her father Kapugen, she now lives with her Aunt Martha in the modern village of Mekoryuk.


Conflict

To escape Aunt Martha, Miyax agrees to a marriage arrangement with an Eskimo boy named Daniel. Being married to Daniel is like having a brother until Daniel tries to attack Miyax. After this, Miyax decides to run away to her pen pal, Amy, in San Francisco.


Rising Action

On her way to San Francisco, Miyax becomes lost on the vast Arctic tundra. She is desperate for food and befriends a nearby wolf pack in order to gain meat and protection. As Miyax studies the wolf leader Amaroq and his family, she learns their ways and finds a way to survive in the frigid Arctic wilds.


Climax

When autumn arrives, Miyax uses the course of the migrating birds to direct her back to civilization. As she sees increasing signs of human presence, she realizes her wolf pack is in danger. When a plane flies over the tundra, hunters wound the young wolf Kapu and kill Amaroq, Miyax’s adopted wolf father.


Falling Action

Miyax stays on the tundra until Kapu’s wounds have healed. Then, she returns to the human world in search of her long-lost father. She finds Kapugen, but realizes that he has begun to assimilate to the gussak ways. Miyax decides to return to the wild.


Resolution

As Miyax heads back to the tundra, her pet plover Tornait dies. She understands this as a sign that “the hour of the wolf and the Eskimo is over”. The days of living closely with nature are no longer realistic. Miyax turns back toward her father’s village.


Julie of the Wolves Plot Diagram

Example

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


Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of Julie of the Wolves.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  4. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



Plot Diagram Template

Example

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





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Julie of the Wolves Character Map

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a novel, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!


Julie of the Wolves Characters

  • Miyax
  • Kapugen
  • Martha
  • Daniel
  • Amy
  • Amaroq
  • Kapu
  • Jello
  • Tornait

Julie of the Wolves Character Map

Example

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Literary Conflict in Julie of the Wolves


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Storyboarding is an excellent way to focus on types of literary conflicts.

Having students create storyboards that show the cause and effect of different types of conflicts strengthens analytical thinking about literary concepts. Have your students choose an example of each literary conflict and depict them using the Storyboard Creator. In the storyboard, an example of each conflict should be visually represented, along with an explanation of the scene, and how it fits the particular category of conflict.


Examples of Literary Conflict in Julie of the Wolves

CHARACTER vs. MAN

Miyax’s conflict with Daniel is the spark that sets the story in motion. When Daniel threatens her, Miyax feels terrified and unsafe. This leads her to run away, ultimately getting lost in the wilderness.


CHARACTER vs. NATURE

Miyax is in conflict with nature when she finds herself starving in the tundra. After the lemming population dies off, the larger game leaves the area, and Miyax cannot find anything to eat. Her conflict with nature puts her in danger of death.


CHARACTER vs. TECHNOLOGY

Guns create a conflict for Miyax when hunters come to the tundra. They shoot at her pack of wolves, killing Amaroq and wounding Kapu. The guns bring fear and sorrow into Miyax’s happy life on the tundra.


CHARACTER vs. SOCIETY

As an Eskimo, Miyax struggles to find a place in the modern world. She loves living off the land and is uncomfortable with returning to civilization. All the cities, schools, neat little houses, and modern technology make her uncomfortable. By the end of the book, “civilization [becomes a] monster” to Miyax.


Julie of the Wolves Literary Conflicts

Example

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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows at least three forms of literary conflict in Julie of the Wolves.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify conflicts in Julie of the Wolves.
  3. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  4. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the story.
  5. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.



Literary Conflict Template

Example

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





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Character Strengths in Julie of the Wolves

Although Miyax is an orphan in the vast, dark Arctic, with only a single pack of worldly possessions, she is fortunate in many ways. According to the old Eskimo hunters, the riches of life were found in a person’s character, not in material possessions. The wealthy Eskimo was blessed with intelligence, fearlessness, and love. Have students use storyboards to explain what makes Miyax rich. Students should depict scenes from the book that embody her best character qualities. Ask students to explain the importance of the scene in the box below it.


Examples of Character Strengths in Julie of the Wolves

INTELLIGENCE

Miyax shows intelligence when she finds a way to locate her route to Point Hope. Even though she has no compass, she watches the flight pattern of migrating birds and uses their trajectory to deduce the direction of the coast.


FEARLESSNESS

Miyax faces many fears throughout her adventure. She is unafraid to approach the wolf pack and courageously threatens Jello with caribou antlers when he tries to attack. When a situation becomes frightening, she follows her father’s advice: “Change your ways when fear seizes you, for it usually means you are doing something wrong."


LOVE

Miyax grows to love her adopted wolf pack. She shows her love most clearly when Kapu is shot by hunters. Miyax takes him into her tent for weeks, feeding and caring for him until he returns to full health.


Julie of the Wolves Character Traits

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Story Structure in Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves in written in a non-linear structure. The three-part narrative shifts from the present to the past and back to the present. The novel can be an excellent starting point from which to teach the concepts of flashback and in medias res. Have the students use three storyboard cells to break the story into its essential three parts. Under each square have students explain the setting, time frame, and important plot details for that section of the book. Using storyboard graphics, students should then try to capture a scene that they find most essential to that part of the book. For an optional fourth square, have students write an analysis of the structure, explaining how the order of events affects the development of the story and the reader’s experience.


Examples of Story Structure in Julie of the Wolves

PART I: Amaroq, the wolf

The story begins in medias res. Miyax is already out on the tundra, starving, and trying to make friends with the nearby wolf pack. In the first third of the book, we get to know the wolves and watch Miyax use her father's wisdom to survive alone in the wild. We learn that fear and unhappiness led Miyax to run away, but we don't know any details.


PART II: Miyax, the girl

The second part of the book is a flashback. It tells about Miyax's life in civilization and explains why she ran away and ended up lost in the tundra. In this section, we learn more about Miyax's deep love for her father Kapugen and her dislike of her aunt Martha and her child husband, Daniel.


PART III: Kapugen, the hunter

In the last part of the book, Miyax has to decide where to make a life: in the village with humans or in the tundra with wolves. Her past meets her present when she discovers that Kapugen is not dead as she had thought, but alive and well. In this last part, Miyax makes a choice to leave the tundra and return to civilization with her father.


ANALYSIS

The structure of "Julie of the Wolves" helps create excitement and suspense. By beginning with the wolf pack, the book hooks the reader's interest and tells us this will be an adventure story. This beginning also reveals that the wolves will be some of the most important characters in the book.

The narrator's hints about Miyax's past in Part 1 keep the reader in suspense until her background is revealed in Part 2. By Part 3, we see that Miyax is conflicted between her life in Part 1 and Part 2. Part 3 contains the resolution in which Miyax will choose one life over the other.


Julie of the Wolves Structure

Example

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Julie of the Wolves Setting Exploration

The setting of Julie of the Wolves plays an essential part in the novel. Students studying this book may benefit from the use of storyboards in identifying the different aspects of setting and their effect on the plot and characters. Remind students that setting includes the location, the time period, and the weather of a story. Then, ask them to create a three-cell storyboard depicting these three components of setting in the novel. Beneath each depiction, students should describe the image and explain the way that aspect of the setting contributes to the plot or character development in the novel.

Example Julie of the Wolves Setting Exploration

Time Period

The story is set in the early 1970s. This time period creates a conflict for Miyax since the ancient customs of her people are now dying out due to modernization. Even her father, Kapugen changes his way of life to fit the times.


Geographical Location

The story is set in the Arctic tundra of Alaska. This location gives Miyax the opportunity to encounter many interesting animals, including gray wolves, caribou, grizzly bears, lemmings, and many types of birds.


Weather and Time of Year

Miyax stays out on the tundra for a year. During this time, the weather ranges from -25° to 40°F. The sun also goes from staying in the sky all night to disappearing for 66 days of darkness. The cold weather allows Miyax to survive in creative ways, such as using water-soaked grasses to make ice poles. The unusual sunlight makes it difficult for Miyax to measure time.


Julie of the Wolves Setting

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