Lesson: Because of Winn Dixie Unit Plan

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Lesson Objective

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Lesson Plan

Unit 3 Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo

4 weeks: October-November

Standards to be covered during Reading Mini-Lesson: 

Review from Despereaux Unit:

  • LRA 3.2 identify the main problem or conflict of the plot and how it is resolved (2)
  • LRA 3.3 contrast the actions, motives (loyalty, selfishness, conscientiousness), and appearances of characters in a work of fiction and discuss the importance of the contrasts to the plot or theme (2)

New to this Unit:

  • LRA 3.4 understand that theme refers to the meaning or moral of a selection and recognize themes (whether implied or stated directly) in sample works (2)
  • LRA 3.5 describe the function and effect of common literary devices (e.g., imagery, metaphor, symbolism) (2)
  • LRA 3.7 evaluate the author’s use of various techniques (e.g., appeal of characters in a picture book, logic and credibility of plots and settings, use of figurative language) to influence readers’ perspectives (2)

Sample Questions:

  • LRA 3.4

-Which statement is a theme of the story?

  • LRA 3.5

-For Jamal, the baseball at the end of the story will most likely be a symbol of…

-When the music box plays again, it is a symbol of

  • LRA 3.7

-The author uses details like “creaky stairs” to show that the house…

-In P.3, why does the author tell about Mr. Toga’s false teeth?

Reading standards to be covered during Word Work:

  • WA 1.3 understand and explain frequently used synonyms, antonyms and homographs (5)

Sample Questions:

  • WA 1.3 Which of the words in the sentence above could have another pronunciation and meaning in a different sentence?

Essential Questions:

  • What are common themes in literature?
  • What is the difference between a theme and a moral or lesson? (see sample question)
  • How/why do authors use symbolism/imagery/metaphor and how does that tie into the theme?
  • What are effective techniques the author uses to reach the reader/serve their purpose?


Gloria Dump’s bottles: symbolism

Theme: friendship, community

Assign talking partners for entire book

Book poster w/ title, author, copyright, genre, narrator, main characters, theme

Story mountain w/ problem, main events, solution, (add 1 main events each chapter and each week cross of the less important ones…or at end of book highlight the most important events?)



Lessons Ideas


Week 12

Oct. 24-28


LRA 3.2, 3.7

WA 1.3


(Chapters 1-5)

M – Making Predictions

As a class we will define homograph using word parts, start a poster to collect examples from the book, and add at least 2 homographs from chapter 1.


Students will make 3 predictions about what will happen in Because of Winn Dixie.

Word Work: We will be focusing on homographs. Draw line btwn word parts. Any ideas about what a homograph is? (use word parts)

Also known as MMWords. Keep your eyes out for them. We will add them to our class poster. We will have to use context clues to determine which meaning is appropriate.

Introduce book: same author as Despereaux. Book walk.

What were important themes/lessons in Despereaux? What will they be in this book? What is the genre? How do we know? (list evidence) What is the purpose of this book?

Read chapter 1

Discuss fictional patterns (problem, climax, resolution)àuse to inform predictions

Write 3 predictions for book

Partner Share

-Start book poster w/:

title, author, copyright, genre, narrator, main characters


-class poster with homographs/MMW started


-student written predictions & partner share


guided reading questions

Tu – Homographs

Students will choose the appropriate definition for each of 5 homographs based on the context the word is used in within chapters 2 & 3 with 80% accuracy.

Intro: Review book poster & add any info. we know. Summarize chapter 1 in 1-2 sentences. Share predications for chapters today.

Read chapters 2 & 3

Word Work: review definition of homographs.  Do first 4 of homograph mpc definitions together to model

Independent: Students use books to reread homographs in context and select proper definition. (Do #5-9)

Teacher created worksheet


Class posters expanding


Guided reading questions

W – Homographs & Figurative Language

Students will find at least 2 homographs in this chapter.


Students will tell a partner what one of two figures of speech means (and state what type of figurative lang. it is)


Read chapter 4

Word Work: Lots of homographs!!  Look back and see which ones you can find. (There are at least 8. How many can you find in 2 min?...white boards?) Add to class list.

Review what is figurative language? People use it all the time without even thinking about it. This is narrated by Opal so when the author uses fig. lang, we are hearing Opal’s voice and how she thinks.

Partner Talk: Analyze the following two figures of speech the author used. What do they mean? (take turns being first partner to share)

White boards for homographs


Guided reading questions


Partner talk


Written exit ticket with analysis & classification

Th – Story Mountain

The class will begin a story mountain (a la Lucy Calkins) to show Opal’s problems and the main events in Because of Winn Dixie.

Set a purpose: Fictional stories have problems. As we read, think about what the big problem is in this book. What does Opal struggle with? Do any of the other characters have problems?

Read chapter 5

List problems that have arisen in the text (dog loose in grocery store, Opal misses mom, Winn Dixie noisy in church, Opal lonely) and decide which is the central problem for the novel

Create a story mountain

Guided reading questions


Partners find problems that have arisen in past chapters: post it?


Start a story mountain for Opal w/main problem (lonely)

Week 13

Oct. 31-Nov. 4




(Chapters 6-12)

M – Homographs

Students will correctly choose the sentence that uses the homograph in the same way it is used in the sample sentence from the text in 4/5 instances.

Review: What is a homograph? We will be looking for homographs as we read today. What has happened so far in the story? What is Opal’s main problem?

Read chapters 6 & 7

Summarize anything to add to our story mountain?

Ind. Word Work: handout with 5 sentences from text…find matching sentence. Give students an example on the board first using a diff. homograph from our list.

Guided reading questions


Student handout w/homograph sentences

T – Shared Inquiry Protocol

Students will participate in the “Mingle Mingle Mingle” student discourse protocol to work with a partner and find the answer to the 6 guided questions from chapter 8.

Set a purpose There are some new characters introduced in this chapter and Opal finds a new problem but works on solving that problem and she gets closer to getting over her loneliness. Follow along because we are going to be answer some questions in a game after we read to see how well everyone understood.

Read Chapter 8

Discourse: Play “Mingle, Mingle Mingle Q & A”à students mill around to music or chanting “mingle mingle mingle” until teacher says freeze. Then T. asks question and students work with nearest partner to find the answer in the book. Volunteers share out answer before next round. (give page number too)

Add new characters to book poster. Update story mountain

Variation of shared inquiry protocol: Mingle Mingle Mingle (ch. 8)


Guided reading questions for ch. 9

W – Theme

Students will identify the theme of Because of Winn Dixie in a single word and construct a logical sentence that expresses it. (e.g. Friendship: Good friends make life better.)

Mini-Lesson novels have many different themes. Introduce theme cards (friendship, honesty, courage, etc). What was the biggest theme in Tale of Despereaux? (Discuss)Think about which theme(s) might be central to this book.

Read Chapters 9 &10

Write Which theme is biggest in this story? defend

Share Different student answers. Can there be more than one theme?

**See Next Steps in Guided Reading for a good theme definition. Theme could be a word or a sentence. Practice selecting a single word and then constructing a sentence that explains the theme.

Discussion of theme in Desperaux


Written sentence



Th – Theme

By the end of the period, students will be able to identify the message/moral of four different popular songs and support their choice with evidence with at least 75% accuracy.

Read Chapters 11 & 12

Review theme cards

Activity Listen to songs, read lyrics, discuss themes.

Alternate activity: identify theme in paragraphs (in reading folder)

Guided reading questions


Song theme choices and justifications (oral)

Week 14

Nov. 7-10


(Chapters 13-19)


M – Homographs

Students will work with partners to find at least 3 different homographs in Chapter 14, list at least two definitions for each and circle the one that is appropriate for that context.

Review: homographs. Keep an eye out as we read. Practice finding them because you are going to look for them in your own reading today

Read: Chapter 14-15

Independent: Students read & search for homographs w/partner. Look for 3 more in independent reading.

“homograph hunt”

T – Symbolism

Students will respond to the following question with 3-5 sentences:

What would eating a Littmus Lozenge make you think of?


Before Reading: Symbolism______________________


Read: ch. 16-17

Students will respond to the following question with 3-5 sentences:

What would eating a Littmus Lozenge make you think of?


Student writing

Symbolism lesson from Buckle Down

W –




Read: chapter 18


t-charts (class constructed)

student written resposne

Th – Summarizing

Students will title Chapter 19 with a title that represents the main events of the chapter


Lesson: Summarize the most important events of the week in a few sentences together.

Divide up the chapters 14-17: partners work together to title the chapter. Aim for just a couple of words

Read: chapter 19

Independent Response: Students title chapter 19.

Chapter summary organizer (from guided reading resources) w/space for picture/sentence & spot for title

Week 15

Nov. 14-18


(Chapters 20-26)

M – Homograph Quiz

Students will correctly answer 3/3 mpc homograph questions.

Read: chapter 20

Guided questions

Tu – Character Analysis Writing

The class will create t-charts highlighting the negative and positive characteristics of Opal, Otis, Gloria Dump.

Students will respond to the following question in 3 sentences or more: Which character has faced the biggest obstacle in life? Explain your opinion.


Read: chapters 21-23

Question to think about during reading: Kate DiCamillo presents characters that have negative and positive characteristics. Does this make her writing more or less realistic? How?

As a class: create t-charts for the major characters noting their positive and negative characteristics.

Otis: good with animals, kind, was in jail

Gloria Dump: alcoholic, good listener, wise words

The Preacher, Sweetie Pie, Miss Franny, Opal


Students ind. Writeàshare responses with partneràgo back and revise writing Problems facing characters: Which character has faced the largest obstacle or problem in life? Why?

t-charts in notes

written response

partner share

guided questions

W – Character Analysis

Students will write 3 sentences using the format to the right to summarize the evolution of 3 different characters in Because of Winn Dixie. Students should use list of character trait vocabulary in their writing.

Read: chapters 24-26

As a class, refer to list of main characters, add any we may have missed

Use Opal as example of character evolving

A look at how the different characters changed

At first Opal _________, but by the end she ____________

Use character trait vocabulary from Next Steps in Guided Reading

Written response

Guided questions

Th – Theme

The class will select the theme that best represents this book, brainstorm examples and discuss possible other themes during a class discussion/shared inquiry.

Which is the strongest theme (in a word?) Support choice with a paragraph defense.

Class discussion

Lesson Resources



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