In The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson, twelve-year-old Matthew suffers from OCD. He is afraid to leave his bedroom where he has complete control over how clean his space is. Matthew spends his days looking out his bedroom window at the neighbors in the cul-de-sac, cleaning his room, and recording what the neighbors are doing in a notebook.
One day two small children come to stay with his next-door neighbor, their granddad, for the summer. The young girl, Casey, calls Matthew the goldfish boy because he stays behind his glass window watching but never interacting with the neighbors.
Matthew is the last person to see the toddler next door before he disappears. The police search for Teddy, but he can’t be found. Will Matthew be able to leave the safety of his room to help find the missing child?
The Goldfish Teaching Activities
Book Unit Samples
You will find the following in this novel study sample:
- Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
- Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
- Constructed Response Question – Inference – The Neighbors
Teaching Idea #1 – Writing Prompts
Classroom Community: Have students discuss ways to create a safe and supportive classroom environment for students with mental health challenges and come up with a plan to put their ideas into action.
Mystery Solving: Have students work in groups to solve the mystery in the story, practicing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Creative Writing: Have students write a journal entry from Matthew’s perspective, exploring his thoughts and feelings about a specific event in the story.
Teaching Idea #2 – Book Trailer
This professional book trailer created by Scholastic is a great way to introduce the book.
Teaching Idea #4 – Learn about OCD
- OCD stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
- When you suffer from OCD, your mind gets stuck on a certain thought or image. The thought plays over and over again. Along with the repeating thoughts, you feel anxious. You want to respond, to react, to do something to protect yourself.
- Approximately 2.3% of the population between the ages of 18 to 54 suffers from OCD. In the United States, this is 3.3 million people.
- In children, OCD is more prevalent in boys. Typically OCD is reported at ages 6-15 for males and 20-29 for females.
- Some common obsessions of OCD include:
- worries about contamination
- fear of hurting others or yourself
- being responsible for causing something terrible to happen such as a fire
Have students research and discuss the themes of anxiety and OCD in the book, reflecting on the impact they can have on a person’s life. Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health.
Have students create a visual representation of the concept of overcoming anxiety and OCD, exploring the importance of self-care and support.
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The Goldfish Boy Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.