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Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Teacher Guide by Rebecca Ray

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

Student Activities for Of Mice and Men By John Steinbeck Include:

The American classic, Of Mice and Men, has seen a recent revival in middle and high schools. It is one of the top summer reading books across the country! This lovable and tragic story of two friends leaves readers of all ages with profound questions about humanity, friendship, and loneliness. Explore the world of George and Lennie, with Storyboard That’s teacher guide, packed with activities to bring this story alive.

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




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A Quick Of Mice and Men Summary

Of Mice and Men is a short novel by John Steinbeck about an unlikely pair of migrant workers in California. George and Lennie have little in common, and when most people meet the pair, they question why the two are together. George Milton is a small, smart man, while Lennie Small is large and strong, but has the mind of a child. Lennie's traits make him clumsy and unpredictable, and often get the two men into trouble.

The novel is about friendship, loneliness, and unfulfilled dreams. For George and Lennie, they hope to work hard, and save enough money to have a small farm of their own one day. When the two start at a new ranch, a man named Candy overhears their dream, and offers to throw in a large sum of money if he can join them. For the first time, George and Lennie see their dream within reach.

However, Lennie’s developmental disability soon puts the friends in a predicament. Lennie accidentally kills his puppy, then, by chance, kills a woman on the ranch. The woman was the wife of the ranch owner, who had picked a fight with Lennie and lost. The rancher and a mob of enraged men set out to find and kill Lennie. Knowing what the mob will do, reluctantly, George kills Lennie first.


Essential Questions for Of Mice and Men

  1. What are the attributes of a good friend?
  2. Why are dreams important in life? What are your dreams or goals?
  3. What can stand in the way of achieving your dreams?
  4. Would you ever hurt someone you love, even if it were the best thing for them?

Of Mice and Men By John Steinbeck Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram | Of Mice and Men


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

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the novel in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Plot Diagram Example for Of Mice and Men

Exposition

Off the Salinas River, in California, two migrant workers, George and Lennie, travel to a ranch for work.


Conflict

Lennie and George are friends. However, Lennie is developmentally disabled, and because of his childlike mentality, the two friends often find themselves in trouble.


Rising Action

After leaving a previous job because Lennie mistakenly grabbed a woman by her dress, the two are forced to find a new ranch. Trouble seems to follow them; Curley, the boss’s son, immediately takes a dislike to Lennie and picks on him. The reader meets Curley’s wife, who creates problems by constantly seeking the men's attention. Despite these problems, the boys make friends with the ranch hands, especially Candy, who offers up a large sum of money towards getting their own farm. They feel closer than ever to achieving their dream of "living off the fatta the land".


Climax

Lennie was given a puppy by Slim and is in the barn tending it. Curley’s wife enters and they begin to talk. Without realizing it, Lennie grabs her hair, because he likes soft things. When she gets nervous and tells him to stop, he panics and breaks her neck.


Falling Action

Lennie was given specific instructions by George that if anything bad happened he should hide near the river. George meets him there.


Resolution

George shoots Lennie before Curley can find him. The men cover it up. The reader feels the sorrow of George having to kill his best friend.


Of Mice and Men Plot Diagram

Example

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Student Instructions

Create a visual plot diagram of Of Mice and Men.


  1. Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.



Story Outline Storyboard Template

Example

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Of Mice and Men Themes and Symbols


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Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to anatomize without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism Steinbeck uses throughout the novel.

Themes Motifs and Imagery to Look for and Discuss

Loneliness

Loneliness is a common theme in literature. Throughout this novel, each character experiences a type of loneliness or isolation. It is interesting to track this theme, and its implications, as the story progresses. Some characters suffer physical isolation or loneliness, such as Crooks, while others, like Curley’s wife, feel psychological isolation.


Friendship

As migrant workers, bouncing from ranch to ranch, most men didn't keep long-lasting friendships. This is why the story idealizes George and Lennie’s friendship. Despite its unconventional nature, the theme that having someone is better than no one prevails.


Dreams

Throughout the novel, Lennie reciting their dream makes it seem attainable. It never becomes a reality because of all that stands in their way, but the hope of it keeps the men alive. It gives them a reason to keep going, working, and saving.


Rabbits

In the novel, Lennie is obsessed with anything soft and fuzzy. He particularly fixates on rabbits because they "aren’t as little as mice", so cannot be killed as easily. The reader becomes more aware as the novel closes that tending rabbits is Lennie's ultimate dream. He knows that he will never obtain his dream, because he kills everything he touches.


Of Mice and Men - Theme

Example

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Of Mice and Men. 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 Of Mice and Men 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.



Template: Theme

Example

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Of Mice and Men Characters


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As students read, a storyboard can serves 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!

You can click on this map and create a copy on your teacher account. Feel free to use it as is, or to edit it for the level of your class. Printing it as worksheets, for your students to complete while reading, is a fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom.

For Of Mice and Men, a character map helps students remember each member of the ranch, and their nickname! Plus, it provides a reference for discussion about how each character contributes to the theme of isolation.

Of Mice and Men Character List

NAME
George MiltonOne of the main protagonists. He is small, quick, and clever. He takes care of Lennie.
Lennie SmallsThe other protagonist. He is rather large and childlike. He likes to pet soft things, and is often the cause of trouble.
CandyA rancher who lost his hand in an accident.
CurleyThe son of the ranch owner who is a self-proclaimed boxer. He picks a fight will Lennie.
Curley’s WifeCurley’s lonely housewife who likes attention. She is often seen lurking about the men.
CrooksThe stable hand. He is black, and is isolated from the rest of the ranchers. He sleeps in the barn.
SlimA strong, sturdy ranch hand who is known as the “Prince”.
CarlsonA ranch hand who shoots Candy’s dog because it's old and useless.
Aunt ClaraLennie’s aunt, who took care of him before she died.
The BossOwner of the ranch, and Curley’s father.

Example Character Map

George Milton

Nickname:
None

Isolation:
Despite having Lennie to talk to, Lennie doesn’t understand him.

Changes in character, physically or mentally:
He is forced to kill his best friend because it is the humane thing to do.


Of Mice and Men Character Map

Example

(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 Of Mice and Men and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the "1900s" tab 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 Textables for Physical Traits, Character Traits, and a Quote.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


Blank Character Map

Example

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Of Mice and Men Conflict


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Literary conflicts are often taught during ELA units. Building on prior knowledge to achieve mastery level with our students is important. An excellent way to focus on the various types of literary conflict is through storyboarding. Having students choose an example of each literary conflict and depict it using the storyboard creator is a great way to reinforce your lesson!


Conflict is a major recurring elements in Of Mice and Men. Much of the it stems from Lennie’s disability.

Examples of Literary Conflict in Of Mice and Men

MAN vs. SELF

George struggles with the decision to kill Lennie.


MAN vs. SOCIETY

The stable hand is isolated from the men because he is African American. This displays the prejudice of the period, and the cause of his isolation.


MAN vs. MAN

Curley attacks Lennie. George tells Lennie it is ok to fight back. This leads to Curley’s hand being crushed.


Of Mice and Men Literary Conflict

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 Of Mice and Men.


  1. Identify conflicts in Of Mice and Men.
  2. Categorize each conflict as Character vs. Character, Character vs. Self, Character vs. Society, Character vs. Nature, or Character vs. Technology.
  3. Illustrate conflicts in the cells, using characters from the story.
  4. Write a short description of the conflict below the cell.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.



Literary Conflict Template

Example

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Of Mice and Men Vocabulary Lesson Plans


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Engage your students through storyboards that use vocabulary from Of Mice and Men. Here is a list of a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the novel, and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

Vocabulary Words From Of Mice and Men

  • douse
  • jeer
  • welter
  • juncture
  • recumbent
  • tramp
  • debris
  • mottled
  • brusquely
  • lumber
  • drone
  • emerge
  • anguish
  • mimic
  • glimmer
  • scourge
  • pugnacious
  • derogatory
  • derision
  • cringe

In the vocabulary board, students can choose come up with their own use of the word, or find a specific sentence from the text.

Of Mice and Men Vocabulary Lesson Plan

Example

(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 Of Mice and Men 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.



Vocabulary Template Blank

Example

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Don’t Let the Fun Stop There! Check Out Our Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Create storyboards that show specific causes and effects from OMAM.
  2. Use a storyboard to depict one chapter at a time.
  3. Create a public service announcement about the Great Depression.
  4. Create a storyboard that depicts what life was like in the 1920-30s. Include fashion, cars, food, and more! Just try the search bar to find what you’re looking for.
  5. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

From Stephanie (Head of Creativity)

For inspiration when creating Of Mice and Men characters and scenes, we looked at imagery from 1930s farms and the Dust Bowl.

  • Artist Favorite: Be sure to check out the wealth of characters we have for Of Mice and Men in the 1900s category. My personal favorite character design is Lennie!
  • Pro Tip: Loneliness is a prevalent theme throughout OMAM. Be sure to use the Edit Pose tool to convey the emotion of the characters through position and facial expression. Save time by selecting from the pre-made Insta-poses!!

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