Your students will laugh out loud at the humor in The Witches by Roald Dahl. In the story, our narrator visits his grandmother in Norway. He tells us witches are real, and they hate children. They are trying to kill all children. These real witches are hard to find because they are good at disguising themselves. Grandmother has seen witches. She says there are ways to recognize them: wear wigs, limp (no toes), wear gloves (have clawed fingers), blue spit, large nostrils.
Grandmother and the narrator take a vacation to the coast of southern England. The narrator hides behind a screen in the ballroom to train his pet mice. A convention of ladies comes into the room. Behind the screen, the narrator learns these are real witches.
At the convention, the Grand High Witch shares the recipe for the secret formula she has invented. This formula will turn children into mice. She brings in a child named Bruno and demonstrates how it works. As the meeting is breaking up, one of the witches smells the narrator. He is caught and turned into a mouse. Narrator Mouse and Bruno Mouse go up to Grandmamma’s room. They come up with a plan to take the formula and feed it to the witches.
Will his plan work? You must read The Witches to find out.
Activities to Use with your Novel Study for
The Witches by Roald Dahl
Book Unit Samples
Grab your free novel study samples. Vocabulary, comprehension questions, and a constructed response question are included.
You can get the free book unit sample by clicking the button.
Teaching Idea #1 – Comparing and Contrasting Two Witches
By teaching a novel with a theme, the difficult Common Core Skill RL.9 compare and contrast becomes much easier. Whether you are comparing themes, setting, and plots by the same author (3rd grade), similar themes and topics (4th grade), stories in the same genre (5th grade), or different forms (6th grade), using a Halloween theme makes the writing projects fun and interesting for students. In this set of free printables, you’ll receive this printable for students to compare the Grand High Witch from Dahl’s The Witches to the Wicked Witch of the West in Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Teaching Idea #2 – Comparing and Contrasting
The next printable has students comparing a number of well-known witches from children’s literature. These include several fairy tale witches such as the witches from Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel.
This handout contains all the witch activities.
Teaching Idea #3 – Comparing Witches Craftivity
Students will enjoy making this free-standing witchcraft activity. Four different witches from children’s literature are compared.
Teaching Idea #4 – Acrostic
An acrostic printable is also included. I purposely left off instructions for this page to make it adaptable for many needs. You can have students summarize one specific chapter from The Witches by using this form or witches in general.
Teaching Idea #5 – Witch Trivia
On the day of your Halloween party, many witch-themed activities make the party both fun and a learning experience for your students. This printable has students listing famous witches from children’s literature. I like to divide students into small groups. I time the activity. The group with the most correct answers at the end of the allotted time receives token prizes. This can be anything from homework passes to school supplies. Students love the friendly competition.
Teaching Idea #6 – A Witch’s Brew
Another activity I enjoy doing with my students is to have them bring in ingredients to make their own party snacks. Here we are creating a punch in a witch’s cauldron. The mixture bubbles and foams. Students love creating their own snacks and following directions can be taught. This printable includes this punch recipe.
If you missed the link earlier, here it is again.
The Witches by Roald Dahl Movies
The Witches has been made into major motion pictures twice. Check out the trailers for the 1990 and 2020 movies.
See the product that inspired this post.
The Witches Book Unit contains vocabulary, comprehension, constructed response writing, and skill practice.