Maniac Magee Teaching Ideas

Activities to do with the Novel Maniac Magee

Are you looking to add some fun to your Maniac Magee unit? Check out these Maniac Magee Teaching Ideas. Maniac Magee is a great unit for teaching both theme and character change.

Story Summary

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 Westside where the European American 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.

Maniac Magee Teaching Ideas

Maniac Magee Unit Samples

Maniac Magee Novel Study

Check out these novel study samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1
  • Constructed Response Questions for Cause and Effect and Theme

You can get the free book unit sample by clicking the button.

Pretzel Cabins

Pretzel Cabins

In Chapter 33, Maniac runs away once again. He ends up at Valley Forge and moves into the Continental Army’s cabins.

While reading about Maniac’s adventures at Valley Forge, students created their own log cabins made from pretzels. These cabins are “glued” together with Cheese Whiz. This was a fun and tasty activity that students really enjoyed.

Zeps for Lunch

Zeps in the Classroom

While Maniac worked on untangling Cobble’s Knot, people in the neighborhood enjoyed eating Zeps. We did too.

A knot was made in a nylon cord. Students took turns untangling the knot while we enjoyed a zep. YUM!!

How fast can Maniac run?

Bar Graph with Speeds of How Fast Different Animals Run

Just how fast do you think Jeffery can run? How does this compare to other animals? Have students brainstorm a list of animals. Research their average running speeds. Create a bar graph. Can Jeffrey run as fast as a bear or a zebra? Find out with this fun and educational activity.

Maniac Magee Anchor Chart

Maniac Magee Anchor Chart

On the anchor chart, 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.

This anchor chart pairs with the constructed response graphic organizer found in the free sample from Maniac Magee Book Unit

If you missed the link earlier, here it is again.

Free Theme Printable Anchor Charts

Below are two printable anchor charts. You will find these as a free resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. These anchor charts may be used with any novel.


Click here to read a blog post titled
Five Ways to Teach Theme in Literature
for additional information on teaching themes in literature.

Theme Anchor Chart
Theme Anchor Chart

I hope your students enjoy reading Maniac Magee as much as my students!

See the product that inspired this post.

Maniac Magee Novel Study

Maniac Magee Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, constructed 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.

Gay Miller

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