One fun way to boil down a story is to identify the beginning, middle, and end. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that summarizes My Side of the Mountain in three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the end. They will summarize each part and create an illustration of a key scene from each. This is a great alternate activity to a regular plot diagram!
Beginning: When Sam Gribley leaves for the Catskill Mountains not far from his family’s crowded apartment in the city, all he has with him is an ax, a ball of cord, $40.00, and a penknife. After hitching a ride into the mountains, he stays the night with a man named Bill, who teaches him how to build a fire, and learns how to find the family land on a map in the library. He has researched and prepared, and is ready to take on the wilderness alone.
Middle: When Sam finds the farm, he burns out a large hole in an old tree for shelter. After meeting an old woman who needed help picking strawberries, Sam walks her home to town and visits the library again. Miss Turner helps him research falcons, for Sam was hoping to train a falcon to help him find food. Soon after, Sam finds a falcon’s nest and takes one of the babies to raise, which he names Frightful. As Sam becomes more adept at living in the mountains, he meets a weasel named The Baron and a raccoon named Jessie C. James. One day, when Sam returns to his tree, he finds a man sleeping in his spot. The man, who Sam affectionately calls Bando, is a college English professor who loves what Sam has done so much, that he decides to join him for a while. After an autumn full of hunters who cannot find their targets, Sam lives fruitfully off of the meat and stays warm with the blanket and the clothing he has made. When Christmastime arrives, Bando comes back for a visit, and Sam’s father comes as well!
End: As springtime arrives, a boy named Matt, who writes articles for the paper, comes around asking about the “wild boy”. Sam claims he is not this boy, but that he’s met him, and tells Matt all about him. Matt knows that Sam is the boy that he is looking for, and promises not to tell his secret if Sam lets him stay with him over spring vacation. Matt returns and spends time with Sam, and when Bando joins them, they decide to make a “guest house” in a nearby tree for Sam’s visitors. News of the boy who lives in the woods has spread all over the city, and photographers come to see Sam. One day, to his surprise, Sam’s whole family comes to see him. His mother, who has missed her son a great deal, tells him that if he doesn’t want to be in the city, then they will bring the city to him. With that, Sam’s family joins him in the wilderness.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Objective: Create a visual plot diagram of My Side of the Mountain.
Grade Level 4-6
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual
Type of Activity: Parts of a StoryCommon Core Standards
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)