25+ fast and engaging lesson plans: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Apr 11, 2022

Are you looking for fun and engaging lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston? Look no further because we have over twenty-five pre-reading, while-reading, after-reading, and whole-unit bundles of teaching activities for Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Pre-reading lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God

If you’re teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school, you probably want some engaging activities that help familiarize your students with the context, characters, and themes in the novel. If so, check out these activities and lesson plans below.

1. Introductory PowerPoint and activity

The first activity we have is this introductory PowerPoint and activity by The Green Light. The PowerPoint covers information about

  • the author Zora Neale Hurston
  • Eatonville history
  • The Harlem Renaissance,
  • racism in the 1930s
  • Hurston’s anthropological work
  • dialect in the novel
  • narrative structure
  • setting background
  • motif guide
  • and more

2. Agree or disagree activity

If you want your students to engage in the themes more, and are less concerned with contextual information, then this agree or disagree activity by The Lit Guy might be more your style.

The activity has ten statements that are reflective of issues in the novel. Students need to choose to stand on the agree or disagree side of the room.

Students then need to defend their position in classroom discussions. The activity also includes tips for implementing the activity in class.

3. Activity mini-bundle

Another great pre-reading activity for Their Eyes Were Watching God is this activity mini-bundle by English Bulldog.

Each of the three activities in the bundle includes Their Eyes Were Watching God lesson plans, common core objectives, preparation steps, a classroom agenda, and assessment strategies.

There are also PowerPoints with student-friendly objectives, student directions, and activity time limits.

The activities included in the bundle are

  • a pre-reading carousel discussion – students walk around the classroom viewing posters with statements, students must leave a statement of agreement or disagreement. Then students get a poster and determine the trend in thinking and discuss it in a debriefing discussion with the class.
  • a themes quote analysis activity – this activity is done after most students have read the novel. Students get a folder of quotations and must decide on a theme that fits the quotations. Students then create a poster with the strongest quote that reflects the theme and an analysis of the quote and language used. Finally, students engage in a carousel discussion and view other students’ posters.
  • a fishbowl debate with an optional essay – a structured classroom discussion with the option to expand into an essay task

4. Zora Neale Hurston and Their Eyes Were Watching God PowerPoint

If you are keen on PowerPoint for introductory lessons, this is another option by Drew Eddins. It gives a brief introduction to Zora Neale Hurston and what influenced her writing. It also previews the novel and gives students tips on what to look for while reading.

5. African American vernacular English PowerPoint

If your students have had little experience with African American Vernacular English this presentation by Dr Broome might be a great way to explain the systematic and grammatical features of the dialect. It explains how AAVE forms verb tenses, pronounces words, uses double negatives, and uses ‘be’. It also explains theories about how AAVE was formed and lists resources for further reading.

6. Introduction activities, notes, and lessons

Another pre-reading activity for teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God is this lesson bundle by Weird Sisters Teach.

The bundle includes introductory information about Zora Neale Hurston’s life, the novel, and the influence on the African American community through reading short passages, notes, and thematic discussion questions.

The bundle includes:

  • a Prezi presentation showing highlights from Hurston’s life, other works, and ideas on identity
  • extracts from her work “Mules and Men” and an activity to help students analyze and discuss the reading
  • Alice Walker’s essay “In Search of Our Mother’s Garden” and an activity to help students analyze the language of the essay
  • thematic questions about human virtues dealing with love, marriage, and society
  • discussion notes and activity ideas for the first three chapters of the novel

7. Pre-reading activity

Another option for a pre-reading lesson plan for Their Eyes Were Watching God is this pre-reading activity by Susan Tigart. In the activity, students do a close reading of the opening paragraphs of the novel and answer four questions. This leads students to focus on one of the main themes in the novel: the differences between men and women.

While-reading lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God

So, your students are excited about reading the novel and have some background information about the author, characters, themes, and context of the novel. Now you need some activities to hold students’ interest (and ensure their accountability) while reading the novel.

We’ve got you covered with novel study booklets, reading quizzes, activity bundles, writing prompts, quote analysis, and worksheets.

1. Digital and printable novel study

If you or your students enjoy using novel study guides, this digital and printable novel study guide by English with Ease may be what you’re after. This product has twenty no-prep lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God. It also has

  • student handouts
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Google Doc to read all 20 chapters of the novel
  • week-long final project
  • movie-viewing activity
  • daily learning focus
  • bell ringer activities
  • reading assignments
  • and vocabulary questions

2. Reading quizzes

If you want some reading quizzes to assess student comprehension and guide class discussion, you might want this bundle of six reading quizzes by Darrick Puffer. Each quiz has ten questions and fits on a single page.

The quiz questions are a mix of multiple-choice, true/false, short response literal questions, and higher-order-thinking questions.

Quiz questions are organized in sections: chapters one through four, chapters five and six, chapters seven through eleven, chapters twelve through fifteen, chapters sixteen through eighteen, and chapters nineteen and twenty.

Each quiz should take an average student seven to eight minutes to complete.

You get an answer key for easy grading, and the quizzes come in both Word and PDF, so you can edit the quizzes to suit your classes.

3. Activities bundle

Another great way to check student comprehension is this activity bundle by Lindsay Anne Learning – Digital English Resources.

Included in the bundle are

  • The Harlem Renaissance digital flipbook to build background knowledge
  • Pre-reading game to preview themes from the novel
  • A second pre-reading/anticipation activity – four-wall discussion
  • Picture prompt digital interactive notebook with creative responses for assessment, journal work, and textual analysis
  • Roll and flip dicussion activity to encourage active reading and textual analysis
  • Chapter two notes to scaffold student reading and note-taking
  • Hexagonal thinking activity to encourage students to make connections, analyze, discuss, and improve writing skills

This is a great way to encourage student-led learning and saves time in a digital teaching environment.

4. Writing prompts

If your students are struggling writers, this bundle of writing prompts by GilTeach has many different activities to help your students practice and improve.

Included are

  • 152 text-specific writing prompts to use as bellringers for each lesson
  • prompts/tasks such as bell ringers, literary analysis essays, and fun historical fiction projects
  • step-by-step instructions to help your students write longer, more independent evidence-based assignments from short, idea-based bellringer prompts
  • rubrics for fast, efficient grading
  • 5 different writing assignments

5. Quotes analysis

If you want to encourage your students to engage in close reading, this quote analysis activity by Teach For Equity might be a good tool. The quote analysis activity scaffolds quote analysis of Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Students can work individually, in small groups, or as a larger group in whole-class discussions with their peers or teacher. Students use critical thinking by using their own interpretations and evaluations.

In doing so, students engage in text-specific analysis of characters and events in the book, but also identify and analyze ideas that exist beyond the text in the real world.

Each organizer is organized so that students analyze a set of chapters for each lesson. The quotes cover the entire novel.

6. Interactive notebook

If your students enjoy using workbooks, you might appreciate this interactive notebook by Ms Kinyon’s English. Students can work at their own pace, or you can lead students in the activities.

The workbook

  • covers the whole text
  • has art-integration activities
  • includes links to helpful resources and videos
  • introduces the novel and author Zora Neale Hurston
  • includes activities for concluding the novel study

7. Cell phone activity

If you’re looking for fun activities to include in your curriculum while teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God, then this cell phone activity by O Some Great Stuff For English Teachers might be exactly what you want.

Students choose a character from the novel and imagine that they live in the current time – what would they have on their phone?

This characterization activity asks students to imagine a character’s phone apps, entertainment, shopping, news, and social media.

Students have to find an image/graphic the character would have on their home screen, as well as apps they would have for entertainment, social media, shopping, news etc.

Students complete the illustration/discussion for each component.

The activity also includes an example cell phone activity is included for a different text so that you can show your students an example of what they have to do.

8. Close reading bundle

Another close reading activity bundle is this one by Weird Sisters Teach. The activities guide students through important sections of the novel and Janie’s journey.

Close reading sections that are included are:

  • Page one close reading
  • Chapter two close reading
  • Chapter nine close reading
  • Discussion notes and activity ideas for the first three chapters of the novel
  • Who is God? Analysis of the significance of the title
  • Student-led close reading group project and template

9. Crash Course Literature video worksheet


Another great activity is watching this free Crash Course Literature YouTube video about Their Eyes Were Watching God and getting students to use this companion worksheet (by me).

The video and worksheet covers

  • biographical information about Zora Neale Hurston
  • genres the text uses
  • the novel’s critical reception and plot
  • various interpretations of the text.

This is a great option to

  • break up reading- or writing-heavy lessons
  • leave for a substitute teacher
  • set for homework
  • cover lots of information quickly

After-reading lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ok, your students have read the novel. Now it’s your job to prepare them for some sort of assessment and then assess them. Keep reading for reading quizzes and exams, AP passage-style exams, a hexagonal thinking activity, self-grading Google quizzes, and a Socratic seminar pack.

1. Reading quizzes and final exam

If you’re after some no-frills reading quizzes and a final exam, then this bundle by Subject Matter Expert might be a good fit. The product includes

  • twelve-question chapter quizzes for chapters one-three, chapters four-six, chapters seven-nine, chapters ten-twelve, chapters thirteen-fifteen, chapters sixteen-eighteen, chapters nineteen-twenty. All quizzes have an answer key.
  • a 90-question final exam with an answer key

2. Passage-based AP style quiz

If you teach AP English, this passage-based AP-style quiz by Innovative English Instruction could help them practice inference-based understanding of the novel.

Based on the final scene of the text (from Chapter 20), the twelve-question assessment has

  • a twelve-question inference-based assessment
  • the accompanying passage with line numbers
  • an answer key
  • teacher tips for supporting students’ critical-thinking skills

3. Hexagonal thinking activity

Also included in a bundle mentioned earlier in this post, this Google Drive hexagonal thinking activity by Lindsay Anne Learning Digital English Resources is a great way for students to practice critical thinking skills.

The retrieval and connection strategy asks students to make connections between characters, themes, etc from the novel. Students use the hexagonal tiles to make generalizations about linked ideas.

Students are given (or create their own) relevant ideas, concepts, feelings, images, and terms to make connections and explain why and how they are connected.

The best part about this activity is that there are no right or wrong answers. As long as students can justify and explain their connections, they can be successful.

You can increase the rigor of the task by asking students to support the connections with citations or quotes.

Students can also “re-shuffle” the hexagons to come up with new connections and ideas.

Included in the resource are

  • 70 digital pre-made hexagons and blank slides with connecting shapes/lines for a first and second round
  • 72 printable hexagonal thinking cards with a page of blank cards so you or your students can add your own ideas
  • gallery walk note sheet
  • re-shuffle and reflect worksheet
  • hexagonal thinking synthesis worksheet
  • write-it-out journal page
  • sentence stems handout
  • teacher notes and digital getting started guide

4. Self-grading Google quizzes

If you use Google Classroom or assign student work through your Google drive, these Google Forms self-grading quizzes by Teacher’s Pet Publication Novel Study Units might be perfect for you.

Included are six different self-grading quizzes, all of which are editable so you can modify them to suit your classes.

The quizzes are divided into sections of the novel, chapters one through four, chapters five and six, chapters seven through eleven, chapters twelve through fifteen, chapters sixteen through eighteen, and chapters nineteen and twenty.

5. Socratic seminar pack

Another great synthesis activity for Their Eyes Were Watching God is this Socratic seminar pack by Erin Smith ELA. The pack helps you structure a Socratic seminar in your class.

The seminar is designed around three ‘big idea’ questions that ask students to think deeply and critically. The pack includes

  • a printable student prep sheet that helps students prepare for the discussion – it can be completed in class or as homework and students can use it during the seminar to participate in the discussion
  • outer circle students printable student handout that helps students in the outer circle focus on the discussion – it can be completed during the discussion or afterward as a follow-up activity
  • Socratic seminar guidelines student handout to explain procedures, outline comment types, explain expectations, and explain point values for student contributions/discussion rubric
  • a teacher guide for grading Socratic seminars explaining how to assign point values, comment types, and codes to speed up grading, as well as a ‘token’ procedure and how to make a Socratic seminar kit with inexpensive, easy-to-find items
  • teacher grading chart that can be printed and used to grade discussion
  • an alternative assignment to give to students who are absent for the discussion – it can also be used to provide students who don’t speak during the discussion a chance to show what they’ve learned

Whole-unit bundles of lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God

Now, if you’ve made it this far (or just scrolled ahead to here) you might not have found what you’re looking for yet – whole-unit bundles. Yep, we know you’re short on time, want more than supplemental activities, and need the whole curriculum.

If that’s the case, we have listed many options to choose from, so take a look at these whole-unit bundles.

1. Whole unit bundle by Simply Novel

First up is this bundle by Simply Novel. Included in the bundle are 96 pages of common core aligned student coursework including activities, quizzes, and tests.

Students can work through the bundle on their own, or you can direct student learning.

The bundle includes

  • author biography and questions
  • pre-reading activity
  • historical context notes about the town of Eatonville, African-Americal oral tradition, post-Civil War segregation, The Great Migration, and The Harlem Renaissance
  • note-taking and summarizing activities
  • vocabulary lists
  • plot maps
  • comprehension checks/study guide questions
  • standards-focused activities about dialect, figurative language, characterization, types of conflict, allusions, imagery, point of view, analyzing poetry, African-American folklore, voice, symbolism, and theme
  • language/vocabulary activities about word roots, vocabulary in context, connotation/denotation, analogies, which word?, and word parts
  • three quizzes and two types of final tests
  • novel summary
  • pre-reading and post-reading activities
  • alternative assessment ideas and activities
  • essay/writing ideas and prompts
  • project and response to literature rubrics
  • an answer key

2. Unit plan and literature guide by Julie Faulkner

Another option for a full-unit bundle for teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God is this bundle by Julie Faulkner. The bundle is created to be five-to-six weeks long; it is low-prep and standards-based.

The bundle includes

  • unit overview with contents and essential questions
  • standards addressed in the unit
  • daily pacing guide and daily opener ideas
  • reading comprehension graphic organizers (editable, answers included)
  • reading quizzes (editable, answers included)
  • grammar worksheets (editable, answers included)
  • journal/discussion/writing prompts (editable)
  • vocabulary list
  • interactive review activities
  • final exam (editable, answers included)
  • final projects (research and presentation media projects)
  • classroom posters
  • characterization worksheets
  • figurative language worksheets
  • fun activities such as a write your own folklore poem activity, plan Janie’s wedding activity, and menu project board
  • analysis activities such as chapter three motif tracking, and a close reading of ‘love lessons’ for each of Janie’s relationships
  • parent permission letter
  • SWBST chapter summary sketch notes
  • additional chapter resources: paired informational texts, paired poetry texts, and a close reading on death with a eulogy activity

3. AP unit plan by Katie Stewart

If you teach AP English, you might prefer this 7-class period (90-minute classes) unit of lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God by Katie Stewart. The unit investigates

  • narrative voice
  • complex characterization
  • setting
  • theme
  • and symbolism

Each class period includes a reading quiz, instruction elements of critical analysis, in-class activities, and discussion questions.

The unit also includes two timed writes from previous AP exams. It also includes some teacher scripts and modeling if this is your first time teaching the text.

4. Whole unit bundle by SJ Brull

Another option for a whole-unit bundle is this one by SJ Brull. The unit is a five-week unit of lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God. The bundle includes

  • pacing guide
  • pre-reading activities – a two-page handout with quotes relating to the themes of the novel that students need to agree or disagree with and provide justification for their opinions
  • film essay – handout and essay graphic organizer so students can focus on specific scenes of the film, take notes, and plan their thesis statement
  • activities
  • reading quizzes and quote analysis
  • notes
  • posters that highlight important themes and quotes from the novel
  • author study including a social media profile activity
  • character analysis packet – students can track key characters and their development through the text, character-theme graffiti table helps students analyze how minor characters support theme development, character development review project using evidence-based writing
  • discussions – including a post-reading Socratic method discussion, a student preparation sheet, and teacher notes on how to facilitate the discussion
  • theme tracking notes – students research themes and track them while reading, including connotation, denotation, and key historical events

5. AP-aligned Unit by Secondary ELA with Ms WIll

Another AP-aligned option is this unit by Secondary ELA with Ms Will. The unit includes

  • a unit overview and calendar
  • one-pager assessment with rubric
  • student reading guide
  • biographical information about Zora Neale Hurston
  • skills and essential knowledge from the SP Lit CED
  • reading strategies and vocabulary for each two-chapter section
  • discussion questions and activities
  • Socratic seminar preparation guidance
  • anticipation guide for the novel
  • close reading activities for chapters six, eight, nine, fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen
  • four reading quizzes identifying quotes

6. Whole unit bundle by Rigorous Resources

If you want your resources to be editable, then this whole-unit bundle by Rigorous Resources might be a good fit.

Included in the 200-page curriculum is

  • daily reading questions and vocabulary quizzes
  • daily discussion questions, with detailed answer key including additional information from scholarly articles
  • literary devices quizzes, including answer key
  • quotation race with 25 key quotations from the text, answer key included
  • poetry pairing with other Harlem Renaissance writers including Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Countee Cullen, includes a homework packet with discussion questions, answer keys, and poetic device quizzes
  • in-class practice essay to practice the AP Q3 essay from the AP Literature and Composition Exam
  • analytical writing assignment including rubric

7. Lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God

Lastly is this bundle of complete lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God by BookRags. The bundle includes

  • 30 daily lessons
  • 20 fun activities
  • 180 multiple-choice questions
  • 60 short essay questions
  • 20 extended essay questions
  • quizzes and homework assignments

That’s all folks . . .

Phew, that’s almost thirty lesson plans, activities, and teaching resources for Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Do you have others you have used and think belong on this list? Let us by connecting with us on Facebook or Instagram.

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