Fever 1793 is a fantastic historical novel. Amazon ranks it as a #1 best seller for teens for the United States Colonial & Revolutionary Period. With a 4.6 star rating with nearly 4,000 votes, many agree. Check out these great Fever 1793 activities.
Fever 1793 Book Summary
The story begins with an omen of the events to come. The main character, 14-year-old Mattie, is bitten by a mosquito. Mattie’s mother and grandfather run a coffeehouse in Philadelphia. Mattie dreams of turning the family business into a block of shops. Because Polly has not shown up for work, Mother makes Mattie do both her and Polly’s chores. Later in the day, Mother goes to check on Polly and learns that she suddenly died. Mattie is devastated at losing her life-long friend.
Mattie goes to the market for Mother. The reader enjoys vivid descriptions of the city and learns that Mattie is sweet on an apprentice painter, Nathaniel Benson.
The coffeehouse begins to get a lot of business due to customers not visiting the establishments near the river where the fever seems to originate. Just a few days after Polly dies, Grandfather and Matilda come across a man pushing a wheelbarrow with a person inside. The man goes to the coffeehouse and dumps Mother out. From there, Mattie’s life goes from bad to worse.
Dr. Kerr says that Mother has yellow fever. Dr. Kerr agrees with Mother. Mattie should leave the city and go to the Ludington farm.
The next morning, a farmer, his wife, and baby come up with a wagon pulled by a sick-looking horse to take Mattie and Grandfather to the country. About 10 miles out of the city, the farmer stops when four armed men block their way. The men say they are not allowed to let fever victims through. Grandfather is sick but not with yellow fever. The men don’t believe Mattie’s words. What will Mattie do?
The story moves on to tell of sickness, robberies, and orphans. Can Mattie survive all that is thrown her way? Read Fever 1793 to find out.
Fever 1793 Activities
Fever 1793 Novel Study Samples
Grab your novel study samples. This sample includes vocabulary, comprehension questions, and a constructed response writing prompt for Chapters 1-2.
You can get this book unit sample by clicking the button.
Teaching Idea #1 – Documentaries
Fever (1793-1820) – Philadelphia: The Great Experiment
This 30-minute documentary mixes re-enactments, period paintings, and expert narrators. The video provides a historical account of yellow fever in Philadelphia. Using the documentary is an interesting way to compare the novel Fever 1793 to historical accounts. What a great way to cover CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.9! Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.
Just how accurately did Laurie Halse Anderson portray the events of the fever? Students can find out through this documentary episode.
These student charts (provided in printable and Google Form formats) include approximate chapter numbers and starting points on the film for the topics covered.
This series also comes with educational materials found here.
Fever: 1793 – A Virtual Tour with Sam Katz is an excellent 12-minute length film that shows many of its setting locations from the novel.
Teaching Idea #2 – Life in Colonial America
Fever 1793 activities include creating Colonial crafts.
Mattie spoke of candles, fans, quilts, and dolls. Have students learn about life in Colonial America by creating crafts.
Find instructions for these projects and others in the Book Units Teacher Colonial America section.
Teaching Idea #3 – Research Topics for Fever 1793
If you are looking for additional Fever 1793 activities, check out this idea.
Laurie Halse Anderson spent a lot of time researching before writing Fever 1793. Because of this, many interesting details are scattered throughout the novel. The appendix answers a large number of questions as well.
Have students explore some of these topics.
- Jean Pierre Blanchard – This French inventor piloted the first manned balloon flight. Later, Blanchard launched his balloon from the prison yard of Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia. George Washington and many others witnessed the flight.
- Charles Willson Peale – This American painter led an interesting life. He painted portraits of George Washington and other historical figures. Learn about the Peale children. Many were named after famous painters. Raphaelle Peale became a still-life painter. Rembrandt Peale painted portraits.
- Rickett’s Circus – Just months before the outbreak of yellow fever, John Bill Ricketts presented the first circus in America. He set up an arena in Philadelphia that accommodated 800 spectators. Ricketts performed great riding feats on horseback.
- Reverend Richard Allen and the Free African Society – Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Members of the church formed the Free African Society.
- Stephen Girard and Bush Hill – Girard was the richest man in the world. At the time of his death, he was worth an amount equal to $182,273,438 today. Have students learn about what he did at Bush Hill.
- The Federal Gazette – Andrew Brown started publishing his newspaper in 1788. He frequently reported on the debates in Congress. Brown also published discussions about the epidemic.
Teaching Idea #4 – Recipes for the Classroom
Eliza was an exceptional cook! Reading about her cooking often makes the reader’s mouth water.
Eliza started to make gingerbread, one of her specialties. Nutmeg and cinnamon perfumed the air as she ground the spices with a pestle. If not for the heat, I could have stayed in the kitchen for an eternity.
Try a recipe that can be done in the classroom.
No-Bake Ginger Cookies
In a large bowl, mix the following:
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons chocolate frosting
- 4 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
- 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger,
Roll the dough into balls. Flatten the balls until they are about a quarter of an inch thick. Sprinkle the cookies with confectioners’ sugar. Students will enjoy this delicious treat.
Teaching Idea #4 – Audio Version
Mrs. Reed Reads – This fifth-grade teacher reads Fever 1793 chapter-by-chapter.
See the product that inspired this post.
Fever 1793 Novel Study contains everything you need for your novel study. You’ll find vocabulary practice and comprehension questions. The unit also includes constructed response writing and skill practice.