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Teaching Holes by Louis Sachar

By Margo Dill

Your students will love Holes by Louis Sachar. It's an entertaining book where you and your students will root for the underdog, Stanley Yelnats, while your students learn about themes and new vocabulary words and practice reading and writing skills. Here are some lesson ideas!

Before You Read

Before you start reading the novel, introduce the novel to students by asking them to write about this question in their reading response journals:

  • What would you do if you were wrongly accused and convicted of a crime, and you were sentenced to a cruel and unusual punishment? How would you try to prove you were innocent?

You will get some interesting and sometimes fantastical answers, but it will open up a discussion about Stanley Yelnats and what happens to him in Holes by Louis Sachar. If you discuss this question and talk to students about what they could realistically do, they begin reading the book with more sympathy for Stanley and the bad luck that follows him around.

*For Fun: Before teaching your lesson plans for Holes by Louis Sachar, put "Stanley Yelnats" on the board and see if any of your students notice that his last name is his first name spelled backwards.

While Reading

holes by louis sachar Here is one of the lesson plans for Holes by Louis Sachar to use while you are reading the book with your students:

Keep a chart of what happens in each chapter--in the present and in the past. Use two different columns (or even two separate sheets of chart paper) for the events and characters in each time period. Because the "past story" is such an integral part of Stanley's life and what happens to him at "camp," it is important for students to keep track of events in both time periods.

You can do this in a couple ways, depending on what works best for you and your students when you are teaching Holes by Louis Sachar:

  1. Students can take turns writing important points from each chapter in the correct column after reading assigned pages.
  2. During a classroom discussion,students can dictate what you should write under each column after reading a chapter.
  3. Students can work in small groups and turn in summaries for the past and present events. You can use these to create the classroom chart, recording all the novel's events.

With this chart, you can also keep track of new vocabulary for Holes that either you or your students record.

After Reading

Here is one of the lesson plans for Holes by Louis Sachar to use after you've finished the novel:

Discuss the themes in Holes by Louis Sachar. As a whole class activity once you've made a list of the themes--such as loyalty, friendship, and fate vs. free will--put students in small groups and assign them a theme. Ask students to find and record three scenes or events in the novel that exemplify their theme. Once you've checked their scenes and approved that they do exemplify the theme, ask students to create a project to share their theme with the class. They can make a poster, a skit, a powerpoint, or come up with their own ideas.