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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Teacher Guide by Elizabeth Pedro

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Student Activities for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Include:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel filled with adventure and deception about a young boy, Huck Finn, and a runaway slave, Jim, who survive a series of obstacles.

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




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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Summary

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain begins with a reference to the book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Huck explains how he earned his fortune; he and Tom found robbers had hidden in a cave. Judge Thatcher responsibly saved their money in an account and provided them an allowance of one dollar each day. Huck lives with Widow Douglas, a woman who has taken Huck in and is trying to civilize him. Huck is restless and lonesome. He desperately wants a change, so he sneaks out of the house with Tom Sawyer.

Huck sees tracks in the snow and believes that they belong to his father, an abusive drunk thought dead. Huck enters his bedroom to find that his suspicions are true - his father was waiting for him. “Pap” demands Huck’s money and warns him to stop going to school. Huck ignores him. Angered, Pap goes to court to get custody of Huck (and his money). A new judge, who is unaware of Pap’s history, rules to keep the family together, naively believing that Pap will change his ways. After getting custody, Pap takes Huck into the woods and locks him in a cabin.

One day, Pap has a hallucination and attempts to kill Huck, and Huck realizes he has to escape. The next time Pap leaves for town, Huck fakes his death and flees down the river in a canoe.

After floating down the river awhile, Huck stops on an island and crosses paths with Jim, a slave he knows from home. Jim recently escaped after finding out that his owner, Miss Watson, was going to sell him. As the two discuss their escapes, Jim also updates Huck on the search party out looking for Huck’s body. Huck dresses like a girl and heads into town to learn news of the two runaways. Huck talks to a woman who is new to the town, Judith Loftus. She quickly sees through his disguise, but doesn’t know his true identity. She tells Huck of the reward offered to find Jim and her suspicion that Jim is hiding on the island. After hearing this, Huck races back to Jim and they prepare to leave. Huck debates turning Jim in; however, Jim is so thankful for all that Huck has done, Huck can’t imagine turning in his friend.

One day, they help two fugitives escape on their raft. They claim to be the Duke of Bridgewater and the King of France. To pass the time on the raft and to plan their next act of deceit, the King and the Duke begin practicing for a performance of Romeo and Juliet, which they perform in town. For the third performance, the townspeople had arrived with rotten food to throw. The Duke and the King are prepared for this, and prior to going on stage, escape with a good sized fortune. Jim doesn’t like the King and the Duke because of their conniving ways.

The King and Duke continue being rapscallions. They impersonate two brothers of a recently deceased man to collect a sizable inheritance. Not satisfied with the money, they decide to stay until they can sell the slaves and the house. The doctor knows they are impostors, but nobody else believes him. Huck tells Mary Jane, one of the daughters, the truth and develops a plan to expose the frauds. The King and Duke are unsure about the money, but continue to sell everything else at an auction.

At just the right time, a steamboat arrives with the real heirs. The lawyer and doctor put the King and Duke and the real brothers in a room to discover who are the frauds. The lawyer and doctor ask numerous questions, check handwriting, and inquire about a tattoo on the dead man. In order to determine who is telling the truth, they dig up the man’s grave. In the dark, through the thunder and lightning, they remove the cover of the coffin and are surprised to find the bag of money Huck had stashed there. With the chaos of this discovery, Huck escapes and runs to Jim on the raft. The King and Duke escape as well, and are just behind them in a canoe.

Jim is captured and sold. Huck gets word of Jim’s location and walks to the Phelps’s plantation. Huck poses as Tom Sawyer, and stops Tom on the road and quickly tells him what has happened. Tom thinks of a plan. Huck continues with his charade, while Tom pretends to be Sid, Tom’s brother.

Tom agrees to help Huck free Jim and comes up with a plan. After hiding a rope in a pie, attempting to grow a plant with tears, and creating a coat of arms, Tom and Huck are ready for the big escape. Tom writes warning letters and puts them in the front and back door of his Aunt and Uncle’s house. He then writes another letter stating that some cutthroats are going to come and steal Jim. He advises them to kill the thieves when they catch them.

After receiving the note, men crowd into the living room with guns, ready to kill whoever is going to steal Jim. Huck is scared, but he and Tom follow through with the plan and help Jim escape. The dogs start the chase and the men run after them shooting their guns. Huck, Tom, and Jim make it to the canoe and to the raft, almost unscathed; Tom had been shot in the calf.

Huck runs to get a doctor, but the doctor wouldn’t get on the canoe with Huck - he would only go alone. While waiting, Huck bumps into Uncle Silas Phelps. Huck makes up a tale about running after the slave. Aunt Sally is worried sick over Tom and stays up all night waiting for him. She makes Huck promise that he won’t sneak out of the house, but Huck is restless. He doesn’t want to hurt Aunt Sally, but he also wants to go find Tom.

The doctor brings Tom and Jim back home. Jim is locked up, but the doctor describes how kind Jim was and how helpful he was in helping care for Tom’s wound. Tom wakes up and confesses everything. He is very proud of himself and the great fun he had during the adventure. At this point, Polly, Tom’s mother, arrives and identifies the true Tom and Huck. Tom is disappointed that Jim didn’t escape, even though he knew all along that Jim was a free man. Aunt Polly confirms that Jim is free, and he feels like a rich man after being set up in the house. As for Huck, he finds out that his Pap has passed away and his $6,000 was still safe with Judge Thatcher. Aunt Polly agrees to adopt him and make him civilized.


Essential Questions for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  1. Do good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people?
  2. How does society shape who we are as individuals?
  3. Is it ever okay to lie or break the law? Why or why not?
  4. Should we follow our hearts? How can we know what is true?
  5. Do adults take advantage of children?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Plot Diagram - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 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.

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 story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Plot Diagram

Exposition

Huck is an orphan living with Miss Watson. He is extremely bored and cannot stand to be there. Suddenly, Pap shows up and wants Huck and his fortune.


Conflict

Huck is forced to live like a prisoner with his drunk Pap. He fakes his death to escape. After that, Huck is left to survive on his own.


Rising Action

Huck fakes his own death and escapes down the river where he finds Jim, an escaped slave. They become a team and move down the river to bring Jim to freedom. Huck and Jim rescue two rapscallions, the King and the Duke. Huck is disgusted by their stealthy actions and determined to find a way to escape from them. The King and the Duke secretly sell Jim to Tom Sawyer’s Aunt and Uncle. Tom and Huck spend weeks working together on an elaborate plan to free Jim.


Climax

Tom and Huck follow through with the plan, they are shot at as they run away. Tom gets injured, and Huck finds a doctor to help them.


Falling Action

Tom wakes up at home and proudly reveals all of the details of the great adventure of Jim’s escape. He is disappointed when he hears that Jim was recaptured.


Resolution

Huck learns that Jim is already a free man and his Pap has died. Tom’s mother, Aunt Polly, agrees to adopt Huck and will civilize him.


(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 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


  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.



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





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Key Themes in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

In this activity students will identify a theme and support the theme with evidence from the text.


Deceit

One theme is deceit. Throughout the novel, characters use deceit for a variety of purposes. For example, Huck uses deceit in order to escape captivity; Huck fakes his death by killing a pig and spreading its blood all over the cabin. Later on, he uses deceit to gain information; he dresses like a girl to gain information from Judith Loftus who is new to town. Lastly, the King and Duke pretend to be related to the late Peter Wilks and attempt to steal his fortune.


Friendship

Another theme in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is friendship. Huck and Jim are dedicated to helping each other and look out for one another as they move down the river and avoid capture. Jim calls Huck "a true friend". Huck and Tom Sawyer also have a close friendship. Huck and Tom develop a complex plan to free Jim. They follow through with the plan, and improve when needed, even when they are close to being caught. Jim demonstrates his friendship toward Tom as well. Instead of escaping, Jim stays to assist the doctor in saving Tom who had been shot in the calf.


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Huck Finn 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 and details about important characters. With character mapping, it’s easy for students to 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.


Huck Finn Characters

  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Tom Sawyer
  • Jim
  • Miss Watson
  • Pap
  • Judge Thatcher
  • The King
  • The Duke
  • Colonel Grangerford
  • Harvey Wilkes
  • William Wilkes
  • Mary Jane Wilkes
  • Uncle Silas
  • Aunt Sally
  • Aunt Polly

(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 Huck Finn and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the "1600s to 1800s" 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 the Textables for Physical Traits, Character Traits, and How did the character impact Huckleberry Finn?.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.


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





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Word Choice in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn uses several examples of figurative language including personification and idioms. In this activity, students can display their understanding of figurative language by identifying the examples and creating a literal and/or figurative portrayal of the language.


"a white to make a body sick"

The first example is personification, which describes how Pap looks when he arrives, “There waran’t no color in his face, where his face showed it was white; not like another man’s white, but a white to make a body sick, a white to make a body’s flesh crawl – a tree toad white, a fish belly white.”


"slap down a line"

The second example describes the poetic creativity of Emmeline Grangerford, “He said she would slap down a line, and if she couldn’t find anything to rhyme it with she would just scratch it out and slap down another one, and go ahead.”


"thick as thieves"

The last example demonstrates the King and Duke’s close friendship and how they got drunk together on the raft; “So the King sneaked into the wigwam, and took to his bottle for comfort; and before long the Duke tackled his bottle; and so in about a half an hour they was as thick as thieves again, and the tighter they got, the lovinger they got…”


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Frayer Model for Vocabulary in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


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In this activity, students are able to demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words using a Frayer Model. In this model, students provide a definition, characteristics, examples (synonyms), and non-examples (antonyms) of the word. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text. The sentences and images validate the understanding of the word and the context in which it was used in the novel.

Example Frayer Model Vocabulary

rapscallion


Definition
n. a rascal, rogue, or scamp


Characteristics
The King and Duke are rapscallions; they are stealthy, sneaky men who con and use others to get what they want.


Examples

  • convict
  • criminal
  • outlaw
  • scoundrel
  • hoodlum
  • miscreant
  • crook


Non-examples

  • angel
  • saint
  • hero
  • protector
  • role model
  • idol


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


Student Instructions

Create a Frayer Model for one of the vocabulary words from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


  1. Choose a vocabulary word and type it into the center title box.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and enter it into the description box under Definition.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the Definition 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.
  4. Think of at least three characteristics that help expand the meaning beyond the definition.
  5. Provide written and visual examples of the word.
  6. Provide written and visual non-examples of the word.



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





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Huckleberry Finn's Views on Slavery


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The novel is seen through the eyes of Huck Finn, who has contradicting views about slavery. For example, Huck struggles between assisting his friend Jim, a runaway slave, and breaking the law. Later on, Huck risks his own freedom to find Jim; Huck goes into town to rescue Jim after the Duke sells him for a small reward. When Tom Sawyer arrives, Huck confides in him, telling him about the adventure he and Jim have experienced down the river. Huck is pleasantly surprised when Tom agrees to help free Jim.

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


Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that examines Huck's view on slavery using at least three examples from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Click on "Add Cells" to change the number of examples.


  1. Think about examples from the text that show Huck's (changing) view on slavery.
  2. Type text evidence in the description boxes. Paraphrase or quote directly from the text.
  3. Illustrate each example using scenes, characters, items, etc.


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





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Don't Let the Fun Stop There! Check out Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Use a storyboard to depict one chapter or section at a time.
  2. Use storyboard that shows precise causes and effects of events.
  3. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

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