One Crazy Summer Teaching Ideas

One Crazy Summer Teaching Activities

Do you need One Crazy Summer teaching ideas? This article includes 5 entertaining exercises that your students will enjoy.

The touching book One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia explores social justice, identity, and family issues. The story of the three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern, who go from Brooklyn to Oakland to meet their mother, who abandoned them when they were young, is set in the summer of 1968 and is told through the eyes of the three sisters.

The girls learn about the Black Panthers’ culture and get involved in their activism while they get used to living with their mother. They gain knowledge about the value of fighting for what they believe in and for fairness through their experiences.

Authentic dialogue and vivid descriptions in Williams-Garcia’s writing help to bring the characters and their setting to life. One Crazy Summer inspires readers to stand up for what they believe in. Anyone looking for a motivating book should read it.

One Crazy Summer Teaching Ideas

Book Unit Samples

One Crazy Summer Novel Study Samples

You will find the following in this novel study sample:

  • Vocabulary Practice
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-3
  • Constructed Response Question for Chapters 1-3

Get the handout for this blog post. The handout includes all activities for this post. 

This is where you will find all the questions and answers for the Trivia Challenge mentioned in Teaching Idea #4.

One Crazy Summer Teaching Ideas #1  – Create an Edible Golden Gate Bridge

One Crazy Summer Teaching Activities

Early in One Crazy Summer, Delphine tries to see the Golden Gate Bridge as the plane flies over San Francisco. Later in the story, the girls take a sightseeing trip and see the bridge from the ground. 

Making a model of the Golden Gate Bridge from candy and snack items can be a fun and creative project for students to do while reading. 

Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Gather a variety of candies and snacks in different colors and shapes. Some suggestions include red licorice, black licorice, pretzel rods and sticks, gummy bears, M&Ms, Hershey’s chocolate bars, and marshmallows.
  1. Use a piece of cardboard as your base. Cover the cardboard with aluminum foil to represent the water under the bridge.
  2. Use pretzel rods to create the two main towers of the bridge.  Create a foot to anchor the pretzel rods to the aluminum-covered cardboard by sticking the pretzel rods into large marshmallows and “gluing” the marshmallows to the board with icing.
  3. Smaller pretzels can form the crossbars on the towers. Use icing to “glue” the crossbars in place.
  4. Cut a long narrow piece of cardboard for the road.  Use Hershey’s chocolate bars or another flat candy to cover the roadway of the bridge. You can break the candy into smaller pieces to fit the length of the bridge.
  5. Use black or red licorice to create the suspension cables. You can use toothpicks,  marshmallows, and icing to hold the cables in place on the towers.
  6. Use gummy bears or M&Ms to create cars driving across the bridge.

Teaching Ideas #2  – Writing Poetry

One Crazy Summer Teaching Activities

A big storyline in One Crazy Summer is Cecil’s poetry writing. Encourage students to write a short poem based on one of the themes in the novel. 

Here are three poems to read to students as inspiration:


My sisters and I, we are a team
Three strong girls, like a flowing stream
We hold each other up and help each other grow
Through the good times and the rough, we always know
That family is forever, no matter where we go.


Who am I, really?
A question that plagues me, daily
Do I fit in with this crowd or that one?
Am I too black, too white, too something?
But then I remember, I am me.
Unique, special, one of a kind, can’t you see?
And that’s enough, more than enough, for me.

Social Justice:

We march for freedom equality
For a world where justice is the reality.
We stand up to oppression, to hate, to fear
And we won’t back down, not now, not here
For we are the voice of the voiceless
The hope for the hopeless
And we won’t rest until our dreams are met
Until all people are treated with respect.

One Crazy Summer Teaching Ideas #3  –  Activities on the Web

On the Web

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) offers a word search puzzle, a crossword puzzle, a graphic organizer, a discussion guide, and more.

Rita Williams-Garcia’s Website  Be sure to check out her teacher’s guide for the series: Gone Crazy in Alabama” Teaching Guide here.

Teaching Ideas #4  – Trivia Challenge

1960s Trivia

Create a trivia challenge for students to complete on their own time, either online or on paper. The student with the highest score wins a prize or recognition. This can be a fun way to engage students who are not as comfortable participating in group competitions.

The handout includes some trivia questions that could be included. Here are a few to pique your interest:

  1. What awards has One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia won?

    Answer: National Book Award finalist (2010); Coretta Scott King Award (2011); Newbery Medal Honor (2011); Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction (2011)

  2.  What inspired Rita Williams-Garcia to write One Crazy Summer?

    Answer: The author was inspired by her experiences growing up during the Civil Rights movement and the Black Panther movement.

See the product that inspired this post.

One Crazy Summer Novel Study

One Crazy Summer Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice. 

Gay Miller

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