Reading Activities and Language Arts Activities for Huckleberry Finn
- Cause and Effect: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a great novel for doing reading activities about cause and effect. For students to do one of the easiest activities with this reading skill, they need index cards, a pencil, a partner, and their Huckleberry Finn novels.
- Students pair up and decide who will write the first cause.
- The first student writes any cause from Mark Twain's book on an index card. She includes the chapter and the page number for easy reference. For example, she would write: "Cause: Huckleberry Finn wants people to think he is dead (page #)."
- She gives the card to her partner, and the partner reads the cause. Then her partner writes the effect on another index card. For example, the second student would write: "Effect: Huckleberry Finn shot a pig and made it look like he had been killed."
- The first student reads this effect. Then the first student writes another cause on her index card from anywhere in the story.
- Once the students have written three causes and effects, they switch roles and write three more.
- Students can save these index cards, mix them up, and trade with another pair of students who have finished their six pairs of cause and effects. Then each pair of students can match the cause and effects together (from the other group).
- Character Motivation: Reading activities about character motivation and feelings can also be assigned while reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. When doing these reading activities, it is easiest for students to focus on Huckleberry Finn and Jim since they appear in the novel more often. To challenge students, you could focus on some minor characters' motivations such as the King, the Duke, Pap, and Tom Sawyer. Here is an example of a reading lesson for Huckleberry Finn's motivation.
- Pick an event in the novel where it is fairly easy to see why Huckleberry Finn acts the way he does. A great event to start with would be when Huck Finn fakes his own death. Present this event to students--maybe even read it again from the novel.
- Explain to students what the word "motivation" means, and use a simple example from their own lives. For example, you could say: "What is your motivation for going to basketball practice every day?" or "What is your motivation for getting an after school job?" and so on.
- Now continue with the reading activities and discuss with students Huck Finn's motivation for faking his own death in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. What motivated him to take such drastic actions for his freedom? Why did he feel like he had to convince people he was dead?
- Once students seem to understand character motivation, you can read them more events from the story, and they can write about the motivations in their reading journals.
Lanugage Arts Activities
Language arts activities can also be assigned to students while reading the novel.
- Voice and Letter Writing: As Mark Twain tells us in the "Explanatory" at the beginning of Huckleberry Finn's book, he has written this book with several dialects. In most novels, characters have their own voice. In this novel, they have their own voice and their own dialect. So, a great language arts activity to do with students is to assign them to pick a character from the novel and write a letter in his or her voice. If you have studied the 6 traits of writing, then students will be familiar with the term, "voice." If not, then you will need to explain how voice is the personality of the character, what the character sounds like to the reader--not just how the character talks.
- Students should pick a character whom they want to pretend to be when writing their letters.
- Students write a letter, using very little dialect, but trying to match the character's voice. You can give them examples such as: Miss Watson would say, "Dear Huckleberry Finn: It is extremely important for you to attend your lessons each day." Huckleberry Finn would say: "Dear Miss Watson: I ain't comin' to no stupid lessons."
- To continue the language arts activities, once students have written a letter that meets your expectations using very little dialect, ask them to try it using the same dialect as Mark Twain does in his novel. As Mark Twain points out in the beginning of Huckleberry Finn's novel, he wrote these dialects painstakingly. Explain to students that they need to take their time, and use the book to help them. These language arts activities should be for fun and to show how difficult it is to write in dialect.
- Writing a sequel: Since The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, students will be familiar with the way sequels work (not to mention all the sequels with today's movies and books). Mark Twain leaves an open ending at the end of Huckleberry Finn's novel. For language arts activities with sequels, you can ask students to write the first chapter of another Huck Finn book or assign them to summarize the plot of another Huck Finn story. They can add new characters or use the ones in the book.