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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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 The House on Mango Street Include:

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros is not the traditional novel, but a collection of short pieces, all written from the view of Esperanza, a young Hispanic girl. Over the course of the book, as Esperanza grows, she describes the people who come in and out of her life on Mango Street. Esperanza uses her writing to try and escape the life she feels destined to live, and by the end, it seems Esperanza has hope that things will change for her. She even indicates that one day she might return to Mango Street to help change the street and its people.

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




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The House on Mango Street Summary

The House on Mango Street is a book of forty-four vignettes, showing what life is like for a little girl growing up. Throughout the novel, Esperanza Cordero, the narrator and central character, learns to deal with the traditions and stereotypes of growing up Hispanic.

Esperanza first introduces us to the places in which she has lived, none of them up to her standards and all what her parents have considered “temporary”. When her family finally moves to a home (instead of just an apartment) that they can call their own, Esperanza is again disappointed; it isn’t the fancy house, with a nice yard and big windows that she’s always wanted.

She then introduces her family, which consists of her mother, father, two brothers, and her younger sister, Nenny (for whom she feels responsible). She talks about how she would like to have friends, but does not have any. She also goes into great detail about how little she likes her name, because she feels that it has set her up poorly for life. Though the name, Esperanza, means hope in English, in Spanish it connotes sadness and waiting. This explanation sets the reader up for what is to come through most of the book: the tale of a girl who is generally unhappy, and who always seems to be waiting for the better things to come.

Esperanza introduces her neighbors. They are people from all walks: crazy-cat-women, daydreaming teenagers, criminals, excitable little girls, and more. Esperanza, in between describing the people who surround her, relates her morals and beliefs. She thinks people who come into her neighborhood are usually scared (intimating that the residents seem ghetto, or dangerous because they are poor and not Caucasian) and that Hispanic girls are expected to take care of their families. She also implies that Hispanic fathers are heavy-handed and that kids (especially girls) are scared of them.

There is a vignette about shoes, in which Esperanza, her sister, and the two girls who have moved in next door get some fancy, high heeled shoes. They are very grown up shoes. We can catch a glimpse at how much Esperanza wants to grow up, but after they are approached by a vagrant offering a dollar to kiss them, she and the others aren’t upset when the shoes are thrown away. Here, the reader sees Esperanza’s disparate and complicated feelings about coming of age; she badly wants to grow up and get away from her life on Mango Street, but she is also scared by the thought of it.

In the vignette “Hips”, the reader gets a glimpse of the two sides very clearly. Esperanza is suddenly developing a womanly body, but she is still playing double-dutch with her friends, and reciting childish rhymes. Immediately following, is an explanation of how she gets her first job. She is forced into a kiss by an old man at work. She isn’t happy about it, and it isn’t the last time a male character will assault her. A recurring theme is how, in her view, boys and men are not respectful to girls and women.

She describes the death of a few family members. With them, we can see Esperanza’s sadness and guilt. She seems to deeply care about people, despite having a very “teenage”, superficial view of them. We also learn that she believes in fortune tellers. After her aunt Lupe dies, shortly after telling Esperanza she should keep writing, Esperanza goes to have her fortune told.

The reader is introduced to more characters, each painting a picture of Esperanza’s feelings through her reactions to their situations. Her mother is sad that she did not become a painter, and we see Esperanza’s inspiration to succeed. We meet a neighbor who is beaten by her husband, and Esperanza states she won’t sit back and wait to have a ball and chain put around her neck.

The end of the book brings Esperanza’s story full circle: she is back to thinking about herself as simply an ugly daughter who longs for more in her life. She does however, say “I have begun my own quiet war”, indicating that she plans to change the things she does not accept, like feeling inadequate, being considered “just an inferior girl”, and living the way men expect her to. She decides that she will have a home that is all her own, not her father’s, or anybody else’s. She will have something to call her own.


Essential Questions for The House on Mango Street

  1. What are the effects of stereotypes? (As they pertain to a neighborhood/an individual)
  2. How do other people’s opinions shape and form us?

The House on Mango Street Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram | The House on Mango Street 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 help students develop greater understanding of literary structures. Sometimes students will really have to think carefully about which events are major turning points in the plot. The House on Mango Street may be a little trickier than others because of the vignette structure of the book.

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. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the book in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example The House on Mango Street Plot Diagram

Exposition

Esperanza and her family move to a one bedroom house on Mango Street in Chicago. While the house is better than the old apartment, it still falls short of her expectations.


Conflict

Esperanza battles with her place in the world. She feels as though she doesn’t fit in and wants to escape Mango Street.


Rising Action

Esperanza wants to leave her neighborhood and desires to grow up. She spends time with Sally, a more worldly girl. She gets a job, and one of the old men there forces her to kiss him.


Climax

Esperanza's friendship with Sally leads to a sexual assault at the carnival.


Falling Action

Esperanza returns her focus to Mango Street and accepts that she belongs there. She rekindles friendships with neighbors and her “less mature” friends.


Resolution

Esperanza wants to be strong and have a place of her own. She wants to become a writer who is dependent on only herself.


House on Mango Street 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 The House on Mango Street.


  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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The House on Mango Street Character Map Graphic Organizer

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This character map allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a story, 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 or interest of your class. Printing it as worksheets for your students to use while reading is a fast and easy way to incorporate this character map into your classroom. Or, if you prefer, create a blank template for your students to complete!


Esperanza introduces us to many characters, and not all of them are included in the character map. Choose the characters you or your students feel are the most important. You may wish to change the box headings in the storyboard to focus on different aspects, such as occupation or treatment of women/Latinos etc.

House on Mango Street Character Map

Example

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Esperanza's Character Evolution in The House on Mango Street

Esperanza never really liked Mango Street or her house there. Though she has friends, she never really feels like she belongs. She ages through the book, but doesn't lose her hopes of being different and less of a stereotypical weak, dependent woman. In the end, “the three sisters”, aunts of Esperanza’s neighbors, tell her that she will need to come back some day, to make a full circle of her life. In the last chapter, she asks who will change Mango Street and leaves the reader wondering if it will be Esperanza herself.



Create a storyboard that shows how Esperanza changes over the course of the book. Include her physical changes as she ages, her views about life, and how she sees the people in her life.

The House on Mango Street - Esperanza Over Time

Example

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Identify Themes in The House on Mango Street

Throughout the book, there are a number of recurring themes. Some of the more significant themes in The House on Mango Street are the importance of names, the language barrier, and the power of words.

Using a traditional storyboard layout with a description cell, choose three examples of theme as they appear in the book. Illustrate each cell to show how the theme is described by Esperanza’s words. Under each illustration, include quotes from the text or a description of the theme.


The House on Mango Street Themes to Look For and Discuss

Importance of Names

Esperanza spends a lot of time talking about her own name and the power names have.

    "In English my name (Esperanza) means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting."


Language Barrier

The importance of spoken language is another subject about which Esperanza is quite verbal. Her father had issues understanding and speaking English. He jokes that he only was able to eat “hamaneggs” because it was the only food he knew how to order in English when he first came to the country.


Power of Words

Esperanza takes great pride in her own writing. The reader is able to see that language plays a very important role for Esperanza. Esperanza turns to writing and decides that she will use her writing to escape from the community she wants so desperately to leave.

The House on Mango Street Themes

Example

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Settings in The House on Mango Street

Though there is more time spent on character development, much of the description Esperanza gives concerns the environment in which she lives from her own home and yard, to the shops she frequents and schools she attends.

Choose from three of the many settings in the book, and illustrate them using a traditional storyboard with description cells and title cells. Put the name of the setting in the title, and give an explanation as to why the setting you have chosen to illustrate is important in the book.



The Streets

Esperanza explains that outsiders (people not from her neighborhood) are scared to enter. When her neighbor's cousin takes them for a ride, it turns out to be a stolen car. They all have fun, but this might be scary to outsiders.


The Neighborhood

The local pawn shop is one of the places Esperanza and Nenny sometimes go. One of the most descriptive environments, the book describes the cluttered shop full of "tables with their feet upside down" and "rows and rows of refrigerators."


The Homes

Much of Esperanza's time is spend at her own house. Her mom, dad, two brothers, and younger sister all live there with her. Her mom is often described as seeming overworked.

The House on Mango Street Settings

Example

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Point of View in The House of Mango Street

Every person and character has their own point of view, and most people have more than one. In this example, Esperanza is shown with three separate viewpoints: female, young, and Hispanic.


In the book, Esperanza takes a number of different views. One is that of a young girl. She feels that men are more entitled, more powerful, and have easier and better lives. Using a grid layout, show at least three points of view from the book. It does not have to be from Esperanza’s point of view; there are a number of character sketches. For example: Esperanza’s mother speaks of how she sometimes feels she had wasted her artistic talent.


Girl

Esperanza is a Hispanic girl. She feels as though girls are born getting the short end of the stick. She often talks about how men have it easier.


Hispanic

From her name, to the food she eats, to the the ways in which Hispanic men find their wives, Esperanza is sure that her life is different from those who are white.


Young

Being young, Esperanza doesn't feel like she has much control over things. She longs to be older and in charge of her own life.


The House on Mango Street - Point of View

Example

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Figurative Language Activitiy|The House of Mango Street


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Figurative language is used frequently in this The House of Mango Street, most notably in the chapter, "Hair". Four common forms of figurative language are metaphor, simile, personification, and hyperbole.

Type

Definition

Example

Metaphor

an implied comparison between two thingsHer smile was a ray of sunshine on a dreary day.

Simile

a comparison using the words "like" or "as"The thorn cut like a razor.

Personification

giving human-like characteristics to non-human objectsThe wind whispered its secrets through the trees.

Hyperbole

use of exaggeration to prove a pointThis traffic light is taking forever!


Find three or more examples of figurative language and, using a T-Chart, create two columns: one quoting the book with matching illustration, and the second showing the figurative language with an illustration of what it would literally look like. For example: along with “Papa’s hair is like a broom”, the cell might show Papa with actual brooms on his head.

House on Mango Street - Similes and Metaphors

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 examples of figurative language in The House of Mango Street.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Identify use of figurative language in the text.
  3. Put the type of figurative language (such as simile or metaphor) in the title box.
  4. Give an example from the text in the description box.
  5. Illustrate the example using using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.



T-Charts - Blank

Example

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





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•   (English) The House on Mango Street   •   (Español) La Casa en la Calle Mango   •   (Français) La Maison sur la rue Mango   •   (Deutsch) Das Haus auf Mango Straße   •   (Italiana) La Casa di Mango Street   •   (Nederlands) The House on Mango Straat   •   (Português) A Casa na rua da Manga   •   (עברית) הבית על מנגו רחוב   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) البيت في شارع مانجو   •   (हिन्दी) द हाउस ऑन मैंगो स्ट्रीट   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Дом на Манго-стрит   •   (Dansk) The House on Mango Street   •   (Svenska) Huset på Mango Street   •   (Suomi) Talon Mango Street   •   (Norsk) The House on Mango Gaten   •   (Türkçe) Mango Caddesindeki Ev   •   (Polski) Dom na Mango Street   •   (Româna) Casa de pe Strada Mango   •   (Ceština) Dům na Mango Street   •   (Slovenský) Dom na Ulici Mango   •   (Magyar) A Ház Mango Street   •   (Hrvatski) Kuća na Ulici Mango   •   (български) Къщата на Улица Манго   •   (Lietuvos) Namas ant Mango Gatvėje   •   (Slovenščina) Hiša na Mango Street   •   (Latvijas) Māja uz Mango Street   •   (eesti) Maja Mango Street