The Indian in the Cupboard

The Indian in the Cupboard Teaching Activities

The Indian in the Cupboard was such a big hit with my students. Imagine fifth-grade boys asking me to help them find the sequels! There are four of them. A teacher can’t ask for anything more.

The story begins when nine-year-old Omri receives a few unusual gifts for his birthday. What is he going to do with an old cupboard and a plastic Indian? Omri does what most boys would do. He locks the plastic toy in the cupboard. Unknowingly, he does this with a magical key that belonged to his great-grandmother. 

When a noise awakens Omri, he discovers that the three-inch tall Indian is alive. Imagine the surprise he felt when the plastic toy turned into a real-life three-inch tall Iroquois. The next day, Omri tells his best friend Patrick about the magical cupboard. After school, they discover the Indian is plastic again.

The next night, Patrick hears a noise again. He is shocked to discover the Indian is alive again. Omri realizes that he can not only bring plastic figures to life but also return it to plastic.

Omri talks to the Indian and learns he is an Iroquois named Little Bear. Patrick must take care of him including feeding him and bringing him supplies to make a home. Omri brings a plastic horse to life for Little Bear. When the horse kicks Little Bear, Omri must bring a World War I medic to take care of his wound.

Later, Patrick comes over and sneaks a plastic cowboy and horse in the cupboard.  The cowboy named Boone and Little Bear fuss which later leads to Little Bear shooting Boone with an arrow.

This novel is a must-read.

Activities for The Indian in the Cupboard

Book Unit Samples

The Indian in the Cupboard Novel Study Samples

Check out The Indian in the Cupboard Book Unit with this sample containing the following:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapter 1
  • Constructed Response Writing for Chapter 1 – Character Traits

Teaching Idea #1 ~ Movie Clip

In this six minutes movie clip, the Indian comes alive. If you don’t have time to watch the full movie this is a great clip to watch. Ask students to compare the characters from the book to the movie. 

Teaching Idea #2 ~ Art Projects

The Indian in the Cupboard Activities

Have students create a diorama of Omri’s bedroom or a scene from the novel. They can use materials such as paper, clay, and fabric to make the characters, furniture, and props. Encourage them to use details from the text to make their diorama as accurate as possible.

Have students create a comic strip retelling a scene from the novel. They can use speech bubbles and captions to convey the dialogue and action.

Have students draw or paint a portrait of their favorite characters from the novel. Students can illustrate Omri, the Indian, or Little Bear. They can use details from the text to capture the character’s appearance, personality, and emotions.

Have students design a new book cover for The Indian in the Cupboard using their own artwork and design elements. They can use images and symbols from the novel to capture its themes and mood.

See the product that inspired this post.

The Indian in the Cupboard Novel Study

The Indian in the Cupboard Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: