Maniac Magee is a great unit for teaching both theme and character change. Jeffrey Magee, later nicknamed Maniac, goes to live with Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan after his parents die in a trolley accident. After years of living with his aunt and uncle, who hate each other, Jeffrey decides he has had enough. Jeffrey simply runs away.
After a year of running, Jeffrey ends up in a fictional town called Two Mills. In this town, Hector Street divides the town between the East Side where the African Americans live and West side where the White population lives.
At first Jeffrey doesn’t see any differences between the two groups. He simply sees people as people. Jeffery makes many friends and soon becomes tagged with the nickname Maniac because he accomplishes several feats including intercepting a football pass intended for the star quarterback, hitting a home run from John McNab’s fastball, and going into the spooky Finsterwald’s backyard. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, Maniac is called names and told to go home when he is with the East Enders. When Maniac travels to the West End, he sees the fear the population has of the East Enders. Maniac learns the meaning of prejudice.
Teaching Ideas for the Book
Theme Anchor Chart
On the anchor chart below, students select two themes from the book. Prejudice and courage are two obvious choices, but other minor themes are present in Maniac Magee as well. I like to use sticky notes for students to complete the anchor chart, so it can be used with different groups of students.
The anchor charts above pair with the constructive response graphic organizer below. This is a free sample constructive response organizer from Maniac Magee Book Unit. Just click on the image to download the pdf version of this organizer.
Free Theme Printable Anchor Charts
Below are two printable anchor charts that may be downloaded for by clicking on one of the images. These anchor charts may be used with any novel.
Click here to read a blog post titled
Five Ways to Teach Theme for additional information.
- Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1
- Constructive Response Question – Cause and Effect
- Constructive Response Question – Theme
- Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like
Maniac Magee Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, constructive response writing, and skill practice. Click on the image below to visit Teachers Pay Teachers where you can take a look at the preview and purchase this unit..