Students have loved My Side of the Mountains for several generations. The story is timeless. Many tweens have wondered what it would be like to run away from home and live off the land. Sam does just that in this fantastic novel.
My Side of the Mountain Book Summary
My Side of the Mountain is written as a flashback. Sam often makes comments about how he felt or what he didn’t know back then that lets the reader know that Sam is telling about something that happened in his past. He also references notes that he wrote in a journal.
On top of the flashback, the novel has an unusual sequence. The first chapter begins in the middle of the story. The author then backtracks in Chapter 2 to the beginning of the story. In Chapter 17, the story catches up to the events that took place in Chapter 1. “Now I am back where I began. I won’t tell it again, I shall go on now with my relief and the fun and wonderfulness of living on a mountaintop in winter.”
This wonderful sequence lets the reader know from the beginning that Sam is going to survive and do well living in the wilderness. This eases the frustration of wondering if he will make it through the cold winter months living on his own so far from home.
Sam lives in New York City in a small apartment with 8 brothers and sisters plus his parents. His father would often tell his children of their great-grandfather who had a farm in the Catskills. Sam decides he is going to run away from home and live on the family land in the wilderness. He tells his father his plans before leaving. His father agrees with Sam’s decision thinking he will return in a day or two.
On the first night out in the woods, Sam can’t get a fire going. He is cold and hungry and has a sleepless night. The next day he realizes he is close to a house. Sam takes his fish to the nearby cabin and asks Bill if he will cook it for him. Bill teaches Sam how to start a fire with his flint and steel.
Next, Sam goes to the library in Delphi to research where the Gribley farm is located. The kind librarian helps Sam with his research and draws a map for Sam to follow. After reaching the farm, Sam decides to make a home in a very old (6 foot in diameter) hemlock tree. Sam learns to hunt and gather edible plants…
Read My Side of the Mountain to learn how Sam learns how to survive living off the land throughout the cold winter.
Activities for My Side of the Mountain
My Side of the Mountain Book Unit Samples
Grab your free novel study samples including vocabulary, comprehension questions, and constructed response writing prompt here.
My Side of the Mountain Teaching Idea #1 – Synonym Activity
Do your students need some additional practice with synonyms? Check out this free printable that goes with Chapters 1-2 of My Side of the Mountain. Students substitute the bold words in the sentences with their synonyms from the word box in this simple practice.
Teaching Idea #2 – Animal Booklet
This animal book includes 3 writing activities for your students to complete while reading My Side of the Mountain. Detailed instructions are included for students for each activity in the printable.
This is the same handout as Teaching Idea #2.
Activity #1 – Narrative Writing Example
Roger woke up with a growling hunger in his stomach. “Fish for breakfast,” he thought. Roger headed down to the cold, mountain stream. He knew the perfect fishing spot where many logs and branches had fallen into the creek during the last ice storm. This made for deep pools of water and great hiding spots for the brown trout.
Roger approached the stream quietly. He did not want to alert the fish of his presence. The worm-loaded weighted hook lowered into the water. He wanted the hook to go deep into the pool where he knew brook trout liked to hang out.
“There!” The sunlight gleamed off the white stripes on the fish’s fins. Roger had found his breakfast. The fish took the bait. This seven-inch was a little on the small side for breakfast, but others had to be close. A few seconds later, three wet mahogany heads popped out of the water searching for insects. Roger was lucky. He scooped up the fish with his net and wound up with four fish. One was a whopping10 inches long. Now, off to breakfast.
Activity #2 – Figurative Language Examples
Bill was a nervous as a fly facing a fly swatter when he stood up to give his book report.
The sly fox maneuver of the quarterback set up the winning play.
My mother thought I was an angry bear when my stomach began growling.
Activity #3 – Writing Instructions Example
How to Make Bird Suet
Melt 1 cup of crunchy peanut butter and 1 ½ cups of lard in the microwave.
Stir in 2 cups of cornmeal, 2 cups of oatmeal, 1 cup of white flour, 1 cup of raisins, and 1/3 cup of sugar.
Press the mixture into a rectangular cake pan until it is about 1 inch thick.
Allow the mixture to completely cool for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Cut the suet into squares that will fit into your bird feeder.
Special instructions – Do not use suet except in cold weather when it will not melt and become rancid.
Teaching Idea #3 – My Side of the Mountain Movie
Watch the movie trailer for My Side of the Mountain. This film was created in 1969, ten years after the novel was written. The full movie runs for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Teaching Idea #4 – Activities on the Web
Boys’ Life shows how to carve a willow whistle.
Teaching Idea #5 – The Audio Book
Several versions of the audiobook can be found on YouTube. This reader shows the book illustrations as she reads.