After reading the short story "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, use this lesson plan to implement fun and educational challenges into your classroom.
Team Charlie vs. Team Algernon
Students love to compete as a team and thrive on educational games. After reading the short story, "Flowers for Algernon", randomly divide your classes in to two teams: Team Charlie and Team Algernon. Remind the students that throughout the short story, Charlie and Algernon competed with one another. Both characters progress (and eventual regression) paralleled one another. These activities and challenges will mimic the competition between Algernon and Charlie. Over a week-long period (or two weeks if you are on a block schedule) Cut large pieces of butcher paper for each team and have them create a team banner that you will tally points on throughout the week. Encourage students to use symbolic pictures on their banners that represent the plot of the story or characters in the story. Instruct them to leave room at the bottom of the banner for you to add points. Survey the banners and give a point to the team you think has the most creative banner. Let the games begin!
Team Challenge #1
Using the vocabulary from the short story, this vocabulary race is a fun challenge for students and a great way to review the words before the actual vocabulary test. What you will need for the challenge:
- A stack of note cards for each team
- A marker for each team, being sure to give each team a different color
- 2 baskets, buckets or trashcans
- List of words without definitions for each team
- List of words with definitions and sample sentences for the teacher
The game is very simple. Give each team their supplies (stack of note cards, marker, and a list of the words without definitions) and set up your game in an area with plenty of running room. I usually play this game in our school's main foyer or in the hallway. Here are the instructions for the game:
- Each team will assign a "writer" for each word race. The writer can remain the same for each word.
- Each team will assign a "runner" for each word. Unless students are unable to compete physically, encourage every team member to have a turn delivering the note card.
- The teacher will inform the students of the method of delivery before reading the synonyms and definitions of a vocabulary word aloud to the teams. Using their list of words, students will confer with one another and decide which word best fits the clues given by the teacher.
- Students will write the word on the note card and the first team to deliver the note card to their team basket (placed next to the teacher and about fifteen feet from the teams ) will win the challenge. At the end of the race, the team with the most correctly placed cards in the baskets wins! Even if a team is first putting their card in the bucket, they do not get points if they do not have the correct word on the card!
- You can spice up the race by having the runners deliver the card in various ways: crab crawl, bunny hop, frog hop, skipping, etc.)