• Search
  • My Storyboards
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt Lesson Plan | Tuck Everlasting Summary

Ten-year-old Winnie Foster is bored with her life. An only child with very serious parents, Winnie often daydreams about running away. One day, while in the woods, she comes across a boy drinking water from a spring. Little did she know that this chance encounter would change her life forever.

Student Activities for Tuck Everlasting

Essential Questions for Tuck Everlasting

  1. What are the challenges that the Tuck family faces?
  2. What is the main theme of the novel?
  3. What is the significance of the toad in the story?
  4. Do you agree with Winnie’s decision not to drink the water? What would you have done?

Tuck Everlasting Summary

Winnie Foster comes from a wealthy family and lives in the rural town of Treegap. The ten-year-old is an only child who wishes there was more to life than playing in her fenced-in yard all by herself. One day, while she was playing outside, a stranger in a yellow suit comes by and says that he is looking for a family. Winnie and her grandmother don’t know what he is talking about, and as he is leaving, they all hear strange music coming from the woods.

Winnie decides she would like to discover what’s in the woods, after all, it is her family’s property. As she is exploring, she comes across a teenage boy drinking water from a spring. When he sees her, she tells him that she’s thirsty and would like some water. But the boy, Jesse, adamantly refuses to let her. When Jesse’s mother, Mae, and his brother, Miles, arrive, they take Winnie with them out of town. Winnie sees the man in the yellow suit along the way, but does not yell for help.

Winnie is confused and upset, and Jesse tells her why she cannot drink from the spring: anyone who drinks that water does not age. They cannot die. They do not feel pain. Winnie cannot believe it. Jesse tells her that once she has met and talked to his father, Angus Tuck, they will return her home safely. They do not wish to harm her, they simply want to make sure she knows how important it is that no one knows about the spring. When Winnie arrives at the Tucks’ home, they are kind and care for her. They explain that because they do not age, they do not have normal lives. They cannot have friends, family, or relationships of any kind. Never aging is not as wonderful as it may seem; Miles was married with children, but his wife left him and took the children away. Jesse tells Winnie that if she drinks the water when she is seventeen, his age, they can be together forever.

Meanwhile, the man in the yellow suit has followed them to the Tucks’ home and steals their horse. The man in the yellow suit goes to the Fosters’ house and tells them that he knows where their daughter is. He says he will get her home safe under one condition: they sell the woods to him. Desperate to have their daughter home and unaware of the spring in the woods, the Fosters agree. The man in the yellow suit returns to the Tucks' home, riding ahead of the constable who is following him. He tells the Tucks that he is now the owner of the woods, and is planning on making a fortune selling the spring water to people who want to live forever. He plans to take Winnie, make her drink from the spring, and prove to people that he has the power of everlasting life. While he is trying to take Winnie away, Mae hits him on the head with the end of a shotgun, and the man in the yellow suit dies. The constable arrives in time to see Mae hit the man, and arrests her immediately. Winnie tries to explain what happened, but the constable takes Mae away; she will be tried and hanged for killing the man in the yellow suit. The Tucks are frightened, for if Mae is hanged and cannot die, the secret of the spring will be discovered, and it will cause chaos.

When Winnie gets home, Jesse secretly visits her and gives her a bottle of the spring water. He still wants Winnie to drink it when she’s seventeen so they can be together forever. He tells Winnie of their plan to break Mae out of jail and run away. Winnie wants to help, and offers to sneak in the jail cell and pretend to be Mae, giving the family more time to get away. The plan works and the Tucks are able to get away and be free. A few weeks later, Winnie sees a dog trying to eat a toad, and Winnie rescues the toad. She pours the spring water over it, and watches as it hops away. Many years later, the Tucks return to Treegap and Angus Tuck sees Winnie’s gravestone; she had a long life and a family, and died a mother and a wife. Angus Tuck is happy, and as he is leaving, he sees the toad hopping by.

Tuck Everlasting is a magical story about the value of life, friendship, and family. It is a perfect addition to any classroom curriculum, either as a read aloud, a small group book, or an independent novel study.

Buy Tuck Everlasting on Amazon

How to Use 'Tuck Everlasting' for Exploring Philosophical and Ethical Questions


Introducing Key Philosophical and Ethical Themes

Start by introducing the major philosophical and ethical themes in "Tuck Everlasting," such as the nature of life and death, the concept of immortality, and the moral implications of eternal life. Guide students in identifying these themes as they read the novel, encouraging them to take notes or highlight relevant passages.


Group Reading and Discussion

Organize group reading sessions where different parts of the book are read aloud, focusing particularly on sections that bring up philosophical and ethical dilemmas. Follow each reading with a guided discussion, prompting students to share their thoughts and interpretations of the ethical questions presented in the text.


Philosophical Journaling

Assign students to maintain a journal throughout their reading of the novel. In these journals, students should write down their reflections on the philosophical questions and ethical dilemmas encountered in the story. Encourage them to relate these reflections to their personal beliefs, experiences, and the wider world.


Socratic Seminars

Conduct Socratic seminars where students engage in a formal discussion based on questions derived from their readings and journal entries. Structure the seminar so that students ask open-ended questions, listen actively, and build on each other’s ideas, fostering a deeper exploration of the novel’s philosophical themes.


Comparative Analysis

For a more advanced approach, introduce another text or philosophical work dealing with similar themes. Guide students in drawing comparisons between "Tuck Everlasting" and the additional text, focusing on how different authors or thinkers approach similar ethical questions.


Culminating Project

Conclude the unit with a culminating project where students express their understanding and analysis of the novel’s philosophical themes. This could be in the form of an essay, a presentation, a debate, or a creative project. Assess students based on their engagement in discussions, the depth of their journal entries, and their final project.

Frequently Asked Questions about Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

What are the main themes in 'Tuck Everlasting'?

"Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbitt explores several profound themes. The most central theme is the concept of immortality and its implications. The novel examines the allure and the burdens of living forever, presenting a nuanced perspective on the natural cycle of life and death. Another significant theme is the idea of freedom versus confinement. This is explored through the protagonist, Winnie Foster, as she grapples with her sheltered life and her desire for adventure and independence. The story also delves into the weight of choices and their lasting consequences, particularly as Winnie faces critical decisions about life, morality, and her future. These themes are intricately woven into the narrative, prompting readers to ponder philosophical questions about existence, time, and the true meaning of being alive.

What is the significance of the setting in 'Tuck Everlasting'?

The setting in "Tuck Everlasting" plays a crucial role in shaping the novel's themes and mood. Set in the town of Treegap during the late 19th century, the novel contrasts the idyllic, timeless quality of the Tucks' woodland home with the structured, time-bound nature of the outside world. The wood, where the immortal spring is located, symbolizes a place of magic, mystery, and escape from the ordinary, which is central to the novel's exploration of life and immortality. The temporal setting, at a time when the world was on the cusp of modernization, also underscores the themes of change and the passage of time, enhancing the novel's meditation on the transient nature of life.

What elements should be included in worksheets for analyzing characters in 'Tuck Everlasting'?

Worksheets designed for character analysis in "Tuck Everlasting" should include several key elements. Firstly, there should be a section for character descriptions, focusing on both physical attributes and personality traits. This helps students understand who the characters are and what makes them unique. Another important element is the analysis of character development, examining how characters change or grow throughout the story, especially in response to the novel's events. Additionally, it's beneficial to include sections for exploring relationships between characters, as well as their roles in advancing the plot and themes. Questions or prompts that encourage students to reflect on the characters' motivations, conflicts, and their perspectives on key issues in the novel can also provide deeper insights into the narrative and its themes.

Image Attributions
  • • GDJ • License Free for Commercial Use / No Attribution Required (
View All Teacher Resources
*(This Will Start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)
© 2024 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
StoryboardThat is a trademark of Clever Prototypes, LLC, and Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office