Where the Red Fern Grows tells the story of Billy growing up in the Ozark Mountains during the Great Depression. Billy longs for a coon dog. He earns money by doing extra chores for two years to earn enough to buy not one but two dogs. Grandfather orders the pups. They are shipped to the nearby town where Billy must pick them up. Billy is afraid his Papa won’t allow him to go off on his own, so he sneaks off to town to get the dogs.
A little foreshadowing takes place as Billy makes his way home. Mountain lions howl near the cave that Billy sleeps in overnight on his return trip.
After reaching home, Billy begins training his coons with a raccoon hide he is able to get using a special trap. The story is full of many adventures Billy has with his dogs as they trap coons throughout the mountains.
Activities for Where the Red Fern Grows
Where the Red Fern Grows Samples
Check out Where the Red Fern Grows Book Unit with these free samples including:
- Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
- Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
- Constructed Response Question – Flashback
- Language Arts Sample Lesson on Sentence Fragments
You can get the free book unit sample by clicking the button.
A Summarizing Lesson
Teach students a little about summarizing using these two organizers. The first explains the Somebody Wanted But So strategy and the second goes over Who What Where When Why and How strategy. After students understand the basics of these two summarizing methods, go to the “Summarizing Activity.” This activity uses Where the Red Fern Grows to practice summarizing skills.
Students complete two foldable graphic organizers. The first organizer includes four basic steps for summarizing. The second organizer briefly explains two methods for summarizing (Somebody Wanted But So and Who What Where When Why and How). Use these organizers to explain the basics of summarizing before having students tackle the project.
This handout also includes the pieces needed to create the craftivity.
This craftivity was originally created as part of a blog link-up from the Reading Crew. The reading specialists each selected one winter-related book to create a lesson on. When thinking about a winter-related book to use as a mentor text, I immediately thought of Where the Red Fern Grows. In the novel, Billy has to battle the winter weather in life and death situations twice.
In Chapter 10, Little Ann falls into the mostly ice-covered river. Billy must save her as she hangs onto the ice shelf. The second catastrophe occurs in Chapters 17-18 when a blizzard blows in during the big coon hunt. First, Grandpa falls on the ice and injuries his ankle. Then, Little Ann and Old Dan become lost in whiteout conditions only to be found the next morning nearly frozen solid with thick coats of ice covering their bodies.
Even if you do not have time for your class to read the full novel, you can use this activity as the events from Chapter 10 tell a complete mini-story. Because of this, I have placed a three-page excerpt from the book on my website for those who do not have a set of novels. The excerpt can also be used for students to highlight.
You can find it here:
Students read the excerpt, highlight details, and complete a timeline organizer. Students then use the details from the timeline organizer to write a summary in paragraph form.
See the product that inspired this post.
Where the Red Fern Grows Book Unit includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.