Lesson Plans for “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak
Preview the Book
Before you begin using these “Where the Wild Things Are” lesson plans, show them the cover of the book and read them the title and author. Ask them what they think the book will be about based on the title and the cover picture. They will probably focus on the monster in the picture, and they may notice that the monster has human-looking feet. Encourage them to look at the rest of the cover, especially the surrounding trees and the boat. Ask them whether the setting of the book seems like a real place or an imaginary place, and have them support their responses.
Then ask students to discuss if there was ever a time when they were sad, and used their imaginations to pretend that they were somewhere else. Encourage students to share their experiences. Then tell students that the book is about a little boy who used his imagination to do something similar.
Read the Book
Read through the book, making sure to leave enough time for the students to examine the detailed pictures on each page. As you read, periodically encourage students to make predictions about the text.
Connect to Real Life
After you have finished reading, ask students basic questions about the book. For example, make sure they understand what the word “mischief” means, as well as what type of “mischief” Max did. Discuss with them how Max’s mother reacted to the mischief, and how this made Max feel. Then let students describe the wild land that Max visited, and ask them to identify what Max did there to the monsters.
Make sure that students understand that Max sent the monsters to bed without any dinner just like his mother sent him to bed without any dinner. Remind them how Max dealt with the monsters. Ask them why they think that Max gave the monsters the same punishment that his mother gave him. Then have them draw connections between this idea and their own lives.
Make Your Own Monster
Have all of the students arrange their desks or tables so that they are sitting in large groups. In the center of each group of tables or desks, put a large box or pile of art supplies, including ribbon, yarn, construction paper, scissors, glue, buttons, crayons, markers, beads, sequins, feathers, fabric scraps, and any other interesting materials you can find. Instruct students to make their own monsters by gluing these materials to a piece of paper. Encourage them to use their creativity, adding wings, multiple eyes, or any other details they would like. When they finish, have them think of a name and a story to go along with each of their monsters, and encourage them to write the story down to the best of their abilities. Some students may want to share their stories with the class.
These “Where the Wild Things Are” lesson plans will enable your students to connect what they have read to their own lives and to use their imaginations just like Max did.