Are you wondering how to teach Huck Finn? The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of those American classics that are taught the world over.
If you’re looking for teaching resources, lesson plans, or activities for how to teach Huck Finn, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll look at pre-reading activities, while-reading activities, after-reading activities, and whole unit bundles for Mark Twain’s classic novel.
Pre-reading activities to teach Huck Finn
Before you start reading Twain’s classic novel, you probably want to engage your students in the characters, setting, and themes of the novel using pre-reading activities. If so, read on.
1. Agree or disagree activity
The first activity for how to teach Huck Finn is this pre-reading agree or disagree activity by The Lit Guy.
In the activity, students choose to either agree or disagree with ten statements on various issues raised in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. After taking a side, students must be prepared to speak and defend their position.
The activity includes teacher tips on how to run the activity in class.
2. Introduction PowerPoint
If you’re looking for something to introduce the novel and Mark Twain with, this PowerPoint presentation by Darrick Puffer might be what you’re after.
Using the twenty-six slide presentation, you can introduce the novel. Other topics included in the presentation are
- key facts
- conflict and climax
- famous quotes
- and critical reception
3. Anticipation guide
Another way to get started is by using this anticipation guide by SJ Brull. In the activity, students read through a two-page handout of quotes relating to the text’s theme. Students need to state whether they agree or disagree with the statement and explain their reasoning.
The guide also has some teacher’s notes on how to build this task into a wider class discussion.
4. TeachNovel’s list of pre-reading activities
Another great tool when trying to find pre-reading activities for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is this blog post by TeachNovels.
The blog post details several approaches to beginning a study of Twain’s novel, including looking at the historical context of the Jim Crow Era, exploring the genre of satire, and investigating Mark Twain as an author.
Other approaches listed include engaging with the controversy over the novel, using artwork to preview the text, using an anticipation guide, investigating the power of words, and comparing Romanticism with Realism.
Finally, you could approach the novel by looking at dialects, the historical context of slavery, and exploring narratives written by enslaved people.
The blog post has many links to outside sources, including videos, worksheets, news articles, and other relevant information. TeachNovels also includes links to other posts on the blog with tips for teaching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the pros/cons of teaching Twain’s classic.
While-reading activities to teach Huck Finn
Once your students are up to speed on the context, setting, and characters in the novel, they are ready to read. But you want some way to keep them engaged while reading or to hold them accountable for getting the work done. If so, the teaching activities for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn below are perfect.
1. Reading check one questions chapter quizzers
If you’re looking for a fast, easy way to ensure that ALL of your students do the reading, these chapter quizzers by Laura Randazzo are what you need.
The one-question quizzers are a set of one-question chapter quizzes to help you identify who has actually read the book and who has read CliffNote or Spark Notes. There are three versions of questions for each chapter so it’s hard for you students to cheat.
2. Map activity
Another Huckleberry Finn activity is this one, also by Laura Randazzo. In the activity, students chart Huck Finn’s adventures along the Mississippi River on a map, starting in his hometown of St Petersburg, Missouri, and finishing at the Phelps’ family farm in southern Arkansas.
3. Mid-novel review
Another way to break up the reading in your class is this mid-novel review by Laura Randazzo. This short review activity covers the first half of the novel, from chapters one through twenty-seven.
4. Comprehension and analysis bundle
Another possibility for activities for Huckleberry Finn is this common core-aligned comprehension and analysis bundle of graphic organizers by Lit Charts. Included in the bundle are
- character analysis organizers
- symbol analysis organizers
- theme analysis organizers
- close reading organizers
- quote analysis organizers
- and a theme wheel visualization poster and project
4. Anytime activities bundle
If you’re looking for fun activities for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to supplement your curriculum, this bundle of anytime activities by Spark Creativity is great.
You can use these as in-class activities or send them home for homework. You can also get students to complete these tasks individually, in pairs, or in small groups.
The activities included in the bundle are:
- the food truck – if the characters from Huckleberry decided to start a food truck, what would be on the menu?
- I’ve got tickets – if the characters from Huckleberry had a ticket to an event now, what would it be?
- on the road – where would Huck go on a modern-day road trip?
- favorite kids’ book – what would Huck or Jim’s favorite contemporary kids’ book be?
- the start-up – imagine Tom, Jim, or Huck create a start-up, what would it be?
- crowdfunded – what project would Huck want to be crowdfunded?
- the t-shirt version
- snapshots – imagine Huck had a Polaroid camera and could keep two photos from his journey, what would he keep?
- and download the app – what app would characters have on their phones?
5. Character graphic organizers
If you’re wanting a characterization activity for Huckleberry Finn, then this set of graphic organizers by The Daring English Teacher covers almost every character in the novel.
The common core-aligned character analysis/character sketch graphic organizers come in two parts. The first part asks students to analyze the characters based on whether they are
- and what the character’s main conflict is
Students then need to find and provide textual evidence for their decisions, as well as an explanation. Students also have to illustrate the character based on textual details.
The second organizer asks students to trace a character’s emotions and motivations from the beginning to the end of the novel. Both of the organizers are differentiated for ESL students and struggling readers.
6. Wordsearch puzzle
Another fun activity to round out your activities when you’re wondering how to teach Huck Finn is this word search and puzzle activity by Puzzles to Print. In the worksheet, students review characters and plot themes from the novel. A great activity for homework, early finishers, or to break up heavy lessons.
Words in the puzzle include adventure, Arkansas, Aunt Polly, Aunt Sally, childhood, civilization, Dauphin, Duke, feud, fog, freedom, friendship, Grangerfords, Huck Finn, hypocrisy, Illinois, Jim, Mark Twain, Miss Watson, Mississippi, Missouri, morality, Pap, racism, raft, river, satire, Silas Phelps, slavery, superstition, The South, Tom Sawyer, Widow Douglas, and Wilks.
7. Crossword puzzle
Another fun puzzle-based activity for Huckleberry Finn is this crossword puzzle by Word-Wise Language Arts Resources. The ‘clues’ section of the puzzle is written in Huck’s dialect and the answer is a translation of that word into ‘proper’ English.
8. Worksheets and assignments
This bundle of worksheets and assignments by Jessica’s Resources is designed to add to your established curriculum. Included in the bundle of teaching resources for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are
- chapters 1-5 comprehension questions and vocabulary
- student-generated questions template (you can use it for ANY chapter to help guide and assess comprehension!)
- chapter 41 comprehension questions
- worksheet involving dialect and non-standard English
- writing task where students write a three-paragraph response about the positive and negative qualities of Huck Finn
- homework and/or journal writing prompt on students’ final thoughts about the novel (watching a movie version of this novel is recommended for this assignment, although there is an alternative prompting question if it is not possible to do so)
- character analysis chart for students to fill out as they read
9. Chapter quizzes
If chapter quizzes are how you like to keep students on task, this bunch of chapter quizzes by Selena Smith might be exactly what you want. Most of the questions are designed to identify if students are doing the reading, but some require analysis.
Included are eight quizzes divided into chapters 1-5, chapters 6-10, chapters 11-15, chapters 16-20, chapters 21-25, chapters 26-30, chapters 31-35, and chapters 36-43.
All of the questions with multiple-choice or true/false answers come in two versions to deter cheating. There is also a version with 10 short-answer questions for all quizzes.
Answer keys are provided and the PowerPoint is editable so you can alter it to suit your classes.
10. Crash Course Literature video worksheets
If you love the Crash Course Literature free YouTube videos then this worksheet (by me) to accompany them will be a timesaver.
Designed to accompany the Crash Course videos about Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (see here for the first video and here for the second), the worksheets guide student note-taking while still encouraging creativity.
The videos and worksheets cover biographical information about Mark Twain, the provenance of the text, the plot of the text, the language of the text, and the reasons for the text’s enduring legacy. The videos also cover major symbols of the novel and the problematic ending of the novel.
These worksheets are a great way to break up reading- and writing-heavy lessons, to use for a substitute lesson, or to give yourself a bit of a break while still ensuring your students are engaged in a meaningful learning activity.
11. Homework hashtag annotation bundle
If you want your students to annotate The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, this hashtag annotation strategy by English Gamechangers approach to annotation might work well with your class.
The homework hashtag annotation activity encourages students to read closely and actively. Using the digital download, you can learn how to run a hashtag annotation project while teaching Huckleberry Finn. Including examples of student work, scoring tools, and tips to grade faster, this download will show you how to easily engage students in the novel.
Included in the bundle are
- 100+ slide Huckleberry Finn Prezi with more than 100 slides, activities, and discussion prompts
- samples of student work, video testimonials, and screenshots of student homework annotations
- how to set up the project and parent consent forms/FAQs
- tips to boost your social media sharing score
- twitter scoring rubric for students
- time-saving scoring hacks for teachers
- an end-of-unit essay planner/graphic organizer for students
- questions and technical support information
After-reading activities to teach Huck Finn
Ok, your students have finished reading Huck Finn and now you want revision and assessment activities. Yes? Then check out the activities for teaching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn below.
1. Escape room review
If you want fun revision activities for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, then check out this escape room review by English Gamechangers. In a race against the clock, students have to use their knowledge of the plot, characters, settings, and events of Huckleberry Finn to expose Duke and The King’s fraud.
There are five different puzzles in the game, which students can unlock by correctly solving 46 clues about the following concepts
- Jackson’s Island firewood hung (close reading activity)
- Secret symbols of Tom Sawyer’s gang (plot activity with cipher)
- St Petersburg map puzzle (setting activity with cipher)
- The secret of Miss Watson’s will (quote identification with two ciphers)
- Iconic river adventure timeline (chronology and symbolism with cipher)
You can also use these same interactive puzzles as stand-alone activities to be completed in small groups throughout the unit. The download includes a step-by-step explanation of all the solutions to all of the game puzzles.
2. Final test
If you want an easy-to-mark final test for Huckleberry Finn, you might want this one by UnCommon Core. Formatted for use on a scantron machine, it will be quick and easy to mark.
Aligned with common core state standards, this one hundred-question test has the following questions to assess
- close reading skills of passages from the book
- context-based vocabulary skills
- explicit and implicit understanding of the text
- ability to decide central ideas or themes
- ability to recognize the authorial tone and other literary devices
- analysis of character
- comprehension of the entire book
There are two versions of the test, including an advanced learning option with a ‘none of the above’ response. Answer keys included.
3. One-week essay task
If you’d prefer your students to write an essay on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you might prefer this one-week essay task by Love and Let Lit.
In the task, students write a literary analysis essay using the Reader’s Writer’s Workshop format. The five days of lesson plans for Huckleberry Finn include skills such as
- topic development
- pre-writing tasks
- essay drafting
- peer review
- essay presentations
- incorporating textual evidence
- thesis development
You also get a literary analysis-specific rubric, activities to help students develop theses, a peer review checklist, a whole-class feedback activity, and general literary analysis tips and reminders.
There is also a link to a student version in Google Drive so you can easily share the activities in Google Classroom.
4. Group research project
If your students are sick of literary analysis, they might prefer this group research assignment by The Daring English Teacher.
Aligned to common core standards, students work together to create a research project, including a five-paragraph research paper written and cited in MLA format. Along with that, students create a PowerPoint presentation and present it to the class.
In the download, you get the project research assignment, research topics and websites for students to visit, group member evaluation forms, an editable example PowerPoint template, and a teacher rubric with customizable point values.
5. Final test
Another option for a final test is this one by Selena Smith. The test includes multiple-choice, true/false, explanation, and essay questions. There are two versions of the test to deter cheating.
Also included are a detailed answer key, a simple answer key, and an editable PowerPoint in case you want to make changes to the test.
Whole-unit bundles to teach Huck Finn
Now we come to the real time savers. No more staring at your planners and wondering how to teach Huck Finn – these whole unit bundles have it all planned out for you.
We know teachers are pressed for time, and often they need more than a few supplemental activities to round out their curriculum. Sometimes you need the whole curriculum from start to finish. Below we have four different options to check out.
1. Full unit bundle by Simply Novel
The first option is this common core-aligned bundle by Simply Novel. Designed to be as student- or teacher-directed as you wish, the packet has many activities so you can pick which ones you want to do depending on your goals and time restrictions.
Included in the bundle are
- anticipation guide and reflection
- comprehension and analysis questions
- reading and vocabulary quizzes
- list of essay and writing prompts
- series of pre-reading ideas and activities
- list of post-reading alternative assessment ideas
- common core-aligned articles based on the reading standard for informational focus articles, with articles about the historical fiction genre, slavery throughout history, slavery in America from the 1500s to the early 1800s, and reconstruction and the Gilded Age
- articles based on the common core reading standard for informational focus biography (of Mark Twain)
- common core-aligned literature-focus lessons on identifying motifs, comparing nineteenth-century works with similar topics, Bildungsroman, satire, romantic poetry, allusion and unique terms, figurative language, imagery, and mood, analyzing the significance of setting, and recognizing allusions to Shakespeare
- writing focus lessons that align with common core standards for introducing and developing your claim, writing an essay or argumentation, organizing your argumentative essay, finishing your argumentative essay, writing a descriptive paragraph in a narrative, establishing the mood in narrative writing, writing vivid descriptions, using dialect in writing, personal narrative, and writing a response to literature
- common core-aligned lessons focusing on language standards such as a glossary of terms, vocabulary lists, understanding clauses, consulting digital references to define historical terms, hyphens, using dashes, identifying rhetorical devices, dialect, word origins, figurative language, imagery, and mood
- two final test options – one multiple-choice exam and one aligned to common core standards
- a teacher guide including a sample agenda, notes to the teacher, supplemental resources, project rubrics, an answer key, and common core alignment information
2. Full unit digital and printable novel study by English with Ease
If you prefer digital-ready unit bundles, you might prefer this novel study for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by English with Ease. Like the Simply Novel unit, you can make this as student- or teacher-led as you wish.
Included in the bundle are student handouts, PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans, and Google Docs for all 43 chapters of Huckleberry Finn.
In each lesson, there is a
- common core-aligned learning focus
- adaptable lesson plan for you to use
- bellringer activity
- chapter reading assignment
- during-reading vocabulary words
- after-reading response questions
3. AP Language and Composition full unit bundle by LitMonster
If you teach AP Language and Composition and are wondering how to teach Huck Finn, then you may prefer this full unit bundle by LitMonster. The unit uses The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as its core text for exploring the genre of satire.
Included in the bundle are
- pre-reading activities based on texts “A Modest Proposal,” “Damned Human Race,” “Advice to Youth,” satirical cartoons, with students learning to identify, analyze and apply satirical techniques
- while-reading activities focusing on satirical targets in Huck Finn, using activities such as double-entry journals, analysis of satire through characters, exploration of Huck’s moral development, and realism vs romanticism in the text
- essential questions with context, warm-up activities with small passages and model analysis, and larger passage analysis for all sections of reading
- reference resources for analysis of satire including sentence stems for assertions and commentary, useful verbs for analysis of satire, satirical techniques with examples, and adjectives to describe diction and language
4. Special education novel study by Special Needs for Special Kids
Finally, if you teach students with special needs, this special needs novel study by Special Needs for Special Kids might suit you better.
Designed for students with autism and other learning needs such as significant disabilities, the unit is designed for teaching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to emerging or non-reading students.
In the unit, you read the classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to students. Students can complete many different activities after each chapter, with most activities having more than one version for differentiation, as well as tips for differentiating for multiple levels of learning.
You get color and black/white versions of the download. Included in the unit are
- 205 pages of differentiated activities for varying levels of learning
- table of contents to help you find what you need
- teacher tips for use and suggestions for differentiation of activities
- 45 activities for each chapter (plus a few bonus activities)
- 5 multiple-choice questions for every 2 chapters and an answer key
Want more English Language Arts activities?
Now that you’re finished teaching Huckleberry Finn, you might want to check out these blog posts for more ELA activities, lesson plans, and teaching resources:
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- Fun, engaging, and easy Shakespearean insults lesson you have to try
- 13 easy, engaging lessons for Romeo and Juliet
- 19 activities for teaching The Odyssey: a comprehensive list
- Teaching Oedipus Rex: 14 fun and engaging activities
- 20 exciting and engaging lessons for To Kill a Mockingbird
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