The One and Only Ivan Activities

Activities to do with the Novel The One and Only Ivan

If you haven’t read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, you are in for a real treat. The story is told from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla in a journal-like format.  The reader learns about Ivan’s past through flashbacks, his struggles in the present living in the small confined cage at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, and his dreams for the future. This post contains several The One and Only Ivan activities and teaching ideas to use with the book. 


Ivan, Stella, and Bob are animals living in the Big Top Mall. Ivan, a silverback gorilla, is in a cage for viewing. Stella performs elephant tricks. Bob is a dog who roams freely. Mack, the owner of the mall, buys Ruby, a small elephant, in an effort to save his mall from going bankrupt. A sick Stella makes Ivan promise to get Ruby to a zoo. Julia, the daughter of George who cleans the mall, is a friend to the three animals. After Stella dies, Mack begins training Ruby. He is mean to her.

Through his talks with Ruby, Ivan remembers what it is like to be free. Ivan comes up with a plan to help Ruby by painting a picture of the zoo with the word home. Julia and her dad glue Ivan’s painting on the billboard.

Read this fantastic book to see if Ivan’s plans for freeing Ruby work. 

The One and Only Ivan Activities

Book Unit Samples

The One and Only Ivan Novel Study

This sample includes activities from Chapters 1-9 including vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, and constructed response questions.

The One and Only Ivan Activities #1 ~ Anchor Chart 

Comparing Settings Anchor Chart

Throughout his life, Ivan lives in four different places. This anchor chart lists those places.

I used this anchor chart two ways.

Option 1 is pictured. I wrote details on sticky notes and students sorted the details by location.

Option 2 – The class brainstormed details about each place Ivan lived. Students wrote details on sticky notes. The students then placed the sticky notes on the anchor chart in the correct locations.

The One and Only Ivan Activities #2 ~ Interactive Notebook Activity 

Comparing Settings Anchor Chart

The anchor chart activity was such a hit with my students that I decided to make a similar activity for interactive notebooks. The activity contains four pockets naming the four places Ivan lived. Twenty-seven cards with details from the story settings are provided. Students can also write their own details on the blank page of cards included.


In this print-and-go activity, students cut out their pockets and cards. Students fold the left, right, and bottom flaps toward the back to form the pockets. Students glued them into an interactive notebook.

To complete the activity, students sorted the details in the pockets based on the place the cards describe. Get The One and Only Ivan activities by clicking on the button.

The One and Only Ivan Activities #3 ~ Stem Project

The One and Only Bob Stem Activity

Amanda Hutson shares her The One and Only Ivan activities including this fantastic Stem project idea.

The kids had to design a habitat for “Ivan” and test it to see which habitat could hold the most weight. We used clay, straws, and cardboard. Each student group started with the same amount of materials. We didn’t do it very scientifically as far as the weight goes. We just used chapter books to test and see which group would hold the most. It was fun.

STEM Activity

Teaching Idea #4 ~ Cupcake Project

The One and Only Bob Food Craft

This cupcake project is fun and delicious. If you are too busy to bake homemade cupcakes, store-bought will work. Notice that our Ruby cupcake was created on a Little Debbie cake.

Students decorate the cupcake with candy to make it look like an elephant. The trunk is a marshmallow peanut. The ears are orange slices, and the eyes are M&M’s. 

See the product that inspired this post.

The One and Only Ivan Novel Study

The One and Only Ivan Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice. 

Check out blog posts for the other novels in this series.

Gay Miller

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