Hatchet by Gary Paulsen Teaching Ideas

Activities to do with the Novel Hatchet

Are you looking for a great novel to read with your students? Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is a winner. At the end of each school year, I have my students do a survey called The Top Five. Students list their top favorites or dislikes depending on the questions…What are your top favorite projects?… Which activities did you enjoy the most or the least?… I always include the question…List your top five favorite novels of the school year. Hatchet is always in the top five and averages number 1 in most classes.

So, why do students love Hatchet?

  • First and most importantly, fast action created by sentence fragments and enhanced by figurative language builds suspense.
  • Gary Paulsen uses incredible detail. Students learn how to survive in the wilderness by Paulsen’s almost step-by-step descriptions. Students can explain how to construct a bow and arrow, build a fire, or even make a fishing spear after reading Hatchet. I once read a newspaper article about a teen who was lost in the woods for several days. He was able to use what he learned in the book Hatchet to help him survive. How incredible is that!
  • Details of Brian’s life and his back story ensure an understanding of Brian’s motives and emotions.
  • Vivid imagery paints a picture of each scene in the reader’s mind.


Do you want to give Hatchet a try? Below are some activities including a free printable to enhance your Hatchet novel study.

Activities for Hatchet

Activities to do with the Novel Hatchet

Hatchet Unit Samples

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen Novel Study

Grab a free sample of the Hatchet Novel Study. This download includes the printable version for Chapters 1-2.

Raspberry Hot Chocolate

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen Teaching Ideas

One of Brian’s biggest challenges in Hatchet is finding food. First, he discovers chokecherries. Brian knows these berries are not poisonous because the birds eat them. They are extremely bitter, but with pangs of hunger, Brian is forced to eat them. Later in Chapter 7, Brian locates a raspberry patch. What a find! Even with the threat of a bear who also likes raspberries, Brian gathers enough berries to eat some and save some for later. After reading about Brian’s discovery, my students made raspberry hot chocolate.

Click for the recipe.

Jackdaw Projects for the Novel Hatchet

Jackdaw Projects for the Novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

The term jackdaw comes from the British name for a relative of the crow that picks up brightly colored objects and carries them off to its nest. Our ‘jackdaw’ is a collection of artifacts from the story Hatchet.

Photos of Jackdaw Projects

Here is the PDF – Letter Explaining the Project and Grading Rubric.

Flip Organizer – What did Brian do to Survive?

Organizer for the Novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

This staggered flip organizer requires students to list details, reasons, and evidence (proof from text)  of what Brian must do to survive. An answer key with 9 examples is also included.

You can download the printable organizer here.

Cloze Writing Exercise

Cloze Writing Activity

This writing prompt says that Brian finds a small package of Hershey Kisses in his pocket. Students add adjectives and verbs to the cloze story to create a descriptive paragraph about Brian’s discovery and consumption of chocolate. The finished product can be printed.

Click here to go to this webpage.

Boom Learning Decks
Free Novel Study Samples for Hatchet by Gary Paulsen Novel Study

I hope your students enjoy Hatchet as much as my students!

See the product that inspired this post.

Hatchet Novel Study

With the full version, you will receive not only the Boom Learning Decks but activities for Google Slides and Forms. Boom Learning is used for multiple-choice, short answer, and matching questions. Google Slides contain open-ended questions such as the constructed response questions.  In addition to digital files, the full printable resource is also included with the full novel study.

Gay Miller

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