Monday, October 11, 2010

Brian's Winter- Gary Paulsen

Paulsen, Gary. Brian's Winter. Reissue ed. New York: Laurel Leaf, 1998. Print.

Do you think you have what it takes to survive on your own in the wild, in the dead of winter no less? Thirteen year old Brian Robeson is doing just that. Stranded in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash, Brian relies on his intelligence and his instincts to survive. He uses his prized tool, a hatchet, to help him hunt for food and build a shelter. As most readers know, Brian is rescued at the end of Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, but this book takes on the perspective if he didn't get rescued. Tugging at heartstrings everywhere, this book is epitome of survival.

Key Vocabulary
  • Flint
  • Lance
  • Hatchet
  • Venison
  • Foolbird
Electronic Resources

Literature Unit
This is a complete literature unit for students in grades 5-8 on Brian's Winter. Each chapter is broken down into vocabulary lessons, quizzes, writing prompts, extended activities, review, and multiple other activities, such as word searches, crossword puzzles, etc... There is also a section with premade journal entries so students can respond to the book in their own writer's journal.

Wilderness Survival Guide for Kids
This is a complete guide for kids on what to do in order to survive in the wilderness. If students ever go camping, this site will tell them all they need to know. There are lists on what to pack, how to find water, how to build a fire, how to signal for help, and how to plan with unpredictable weather. Unlike Brian, who had to survive with nothing, this site will help kids be prepared for anything! There are also quizzes at the end to see what kids know after learning about wilderness survival.

Teaching Suggestions

Before reading: Key vocabulary should be taught before reading the novel. A word wall would be perfect for displaying the content vocabulary. Students may also create lists of what they believe would be necessary for a survival pack. Afterwards, students can share their ideas, determine which ideas they had in common, and then vote to decide what supplies are the most important. They will really be able to see how important these things are when they read the book and see how Brian survived without them.

During reading: As students are reading, they can make a character sketch for Brian. They will be able to see, with the help of the sketch, how Brian changes throughout the story and what is responsible for these changes. They can make notes of the decisions Brian makes and decide whether or not they agree with what he did. What would they do differently?

After reading: Students can respond to several writing prompts after reading the novel. They can write from the perspective of Brian and decide what they would do if they were left stranded in the wilderness. What would they do to survive? What would they miss the most? Since the main character is roughly around their age, it is easier to empathize with him. Students can make text-to-text connections and think about what characters from other books they have read does Brian compare to. The responses are endless when it comes to Brian's Winter by, Gary Paulsen.

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