Louis Sachar hit it out of the park with his novel Holes.
Accused of a crime he did not commit, Stanley Yelnats is sentenced to Camp Green Lake for rehabilitation. Almost immediately, Stanley realizes digging a large hole each day is not just punishment. The Warden is looking for something special.
While digging Stanley thinks about his family’s history. Through these flashbacks, two additional stories are told. These plots weave together to form a complex and wonderful novel.
If you haven’t read the book Holes, you are in for a real treat!
Teaching Ideas for the Book
#1 Character Trait Booklets
Create each mini-book from a single piece of paper, folded to form a book. The finished books contain 6 pages where students can list character traits for the main characters. This is a valuable tool for a book such as Holes with three story plots taking place and many characters to remember. Just click on the image below to download the free printables for this activity. An answer key is included to make this activity a print and go project.
#2 Figurative Language
The soundtrack for the 2003 movie of Holes contains some incredible songs. Using quotes from the book as well as lyrics from the soundtrack, makes Holes and ideal book for teaching figurative language. Here you will find four PowerPoints to help you:
Click on the image of the PowerPoint Presentation you wish to download. NOTE: If you have difficulty playing the audio clips in the PowerPoints, here is the link to a zipped file containing all four PowerPoint presentations along with the audio files. SECOND NOTE: The student packet referred to in the PowerPoints is part of the Holes Book Unit which can be purchased at Teachers Pay Teachers.
Onomatopoeia, Hyperbole, & Repetition
#3 Character Traits
Assign each student one character from Holes. The student is to write a character description from the first person point of view. Click here to read all character descriptions.
#4 Dig Activity
The bags were placed on the floor in a grid formation. Students read clues to determine which bag they must “dig” into. The bags held objects from the story such as plastic lizards, a mini treasure chest, a can of very old peaches, a golden lipstick tube, an a fish fossil. After collecting the objects, students discussed the significance of each.
# 5 Onion Dip
Onions play an important role in the characters’ lives in the book Holes. In the past Sam, the onion man, cured the townsfolk from all types of ailments with his onion remedies. Even when doctors could not heal the sick, Sam could.
Years later Stanley and Zero eat onions on God’s Thumb to regain their strength after days in the desert. Here again onions had a healing power.
After reading about onions, we made this delicious dip from onions. Here is the recipe we used:
- 8 ounces cream cheese — cubed
- 3 large Vidalia onions — steamed
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon Garlic salt
- 1/4 cup Whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese — grated
- 1/4 teaspoon Thyme
Combine cream cheese and cream in Crock Pot.
Cover and heat until cheese is melted, 30 to 60 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients.
Cover and heat 30 minutes.
Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, or bread pieces.
# 6 Spiced Peaches
Similar to onions, peaches are important to the characters in Holes. Katherine Barlow made delicious spiced peaches. She used these peaches to pay Sam for the work he did on the schoolhouse. Zero found some of these peaches in the boat, the Mary Lou. He was able to survive living in the desert by using the overturned boat as shelter and eating the spiced peaches.
Students enjoyed making spiced peaches. We served them warm over vanilla ice cream. YUM!!
# 7 Additional Teaching Resources
- Story Impressions: Judging a Book by its Key Words
- The Backwards Poem Assignment using paradox or oxymoron as a poetic inspiration
- Educator’s Guide for Holes
- Scholastic’s Treasure Hunt Game
- Storyboard Lesson Plans
- Prereading and Followup Activities for Holes from Random House
- Holes Comprehension Companion
- Holes Activities from Nancy Polette
- Teacher Pages for Holes
- Vocabulary from Louis Sachar’s Holes