15+ easy and engaging activities for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five

Jun 20, 2022

Teaching Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut? Looking for easy and engaging activities to use in class? We’ve got you covered with a bunch of pre-reading, while-reading, after-reading, and whole-unit bundles of lesson plans for Slaughterhouse-Five.

Pre-reading activities for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five

Before you get started with the reading, you likely want to introduce your students to the context, characters, and important themes in the novel. If that’s the case, check out the activities below.

1. Anticipation guide

The first pre-reading activity we have for Slaughterhouse-Five is this anticipation guide by SJ Brull. The handout includes quotes that relate to the text’s themes and students must respond by saying they agree or disagree with a statement. They must then explain their opinion.

There are also notes included on how to build this activity into a whole-class discussion.


2. Agree or disagree

If your students would rather talk than write, you might prefer this agree or disagree activity by The Lit Guy. Similar to the activity above, students must respond to whether they agree or disagree with a statement by choosing which side of the room they would like to stand on.

Once students have chosen a side, they must be prepared to defend their ideas during class discussion. The activity also includes tips for how to use the activity in your class.

3. Introductory PowerPoint

IF you want to provide your students a bit more context before reading, you might want this introductory PowerPoint by Jessica Jackson. The PowerPoint covers

  • background information on the author
  • the historical context of Dresden’s firebombing
  • a brief analysis of Billy Pilgrim
  • information about science fiction and metafiction as it relates to the novel
  • sources for further reading

While-reading activities for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five

Once your students have some knowledge about the context, characters, and themes of Slaughterhouse-Five, you probably want some activities to keep them engaged and on-task while reading. Check out the workbooks, cell phone activity, worksheets, bookmarks, and graphic novel activities below.

1. Student study guide workbook

If your students like to work independently, you might like this student study guide workbook by Bradley Thompson. The workbook provides questions of varying difficulty, from simple recall to inferential questions about Vonnegut’s style.

The workbook also covers literary concepts such as

  • allusions
  • character archetypes
  • indirect characterization,
  • conflict
  • costume
  • figurative language
  • foreshadowing
  • imagery
  • irony
  • juxtaposition
  • mood
  • motifs
  • setting
  • point of view
  • symbolism
  • themes
  • and tone

2. Cell phone characterization activity

If you’re after a fun activity for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five, you might like this cell phone characterization activity by O Some Great Stuff for English Teachers.

In the activity, students show their understanding of the character by imagining what a character would have on their phone.

Students need to decide on a home screen graphic, apps related to entertainment, social media, shopping, news, and others. Students also need to include an illustration and discussion for each item they choose to show their understanding of the character.

Included in the resource is an example of a completed cell phone using a character from a different text so you can show students what your expectations are.


3. Slaughterhouse-five reading bookmark

If you want to help your students while reading, you might like this reading bookmark by Word-Wise Language Resources.

The bookmark provides students with important information about the book, such as

  • author information
  • publication date
  • genre
  • story premise
  • main character descriptions
  • themes or topics
  • setting
  • words to know

The bookmarks are designed five to a page, so you can print many without using up your photocopy budget. Color and black and white versions are included.

4. Graphic novel

If your students are into graphic novels, you might like to try this graphic novel bundle of lesson plans for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five by We Are Graphic Novels. The bundle of lesson activities includes

  • Warm-up paper dance party
  • Vocabulary worksheet
  • Two graphic organizers
  • PowerPoint presentation for graphic organizers
  • Questions for reading graphically
  • Graphics
  • Activities
  • Reading comprehension
  • Purpose of reading questions
  • One-pager theme assignment
  • 6-panel storyboard assignment
  • Roll the dice activity
  • Character worksheet
  • Narrative short story
  • Teacher notes/keys

5. Crash Course Literature video worksheet


If you want a fun plug-and-play lesson, you might like these worksheets (by me). The worksheets are made to accompany the free YouTube videos about Slaughterhouse-FIve made by Crash Course. See here for the first video and here for the second.

The videos and worksheets cover

  • the protagonist’s motivations
  • biographical information about the author
  • literary devices used in the text and the effect they have
  • the themes of war and violence
  • the protagonist’s traumatic war and alien abduction experiences
  • the relationships between free will and moral responsibility
  • features of Tralfamadorian literature
  • and why aspects of the text deliberately shock readers

The worksheets are black and white and include teacher notes for the videos. They’re great to set for homework, to leave for a substitute, or to give yourself a break.

You could also use them for a flipped classroom lesson, where students watch the videos and complete their notes, and then come to class prepared to discuss the novel.

6. Activities snd handouts

If you’re looking for a variety of activities, including quizzes, movie handouts, a test, and a project list, you might want this bundle of activities for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five by Juggling ELA. The bundle includes

  • study guide questions and answers
  • characterization webs
  • venn diagrams
  • quizzes for each chapter
  • a unit test and answer key
  • movie handouts
  • and a project list with presentation rubric

After-reading activities for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five

So, your students have read Slaughterhouse-Five and you need to help them review and revise, as well a prepare them for some kind of assessment. If that’s what you’re after, we’ve got you covered with revision quizzes, final tests, revision escape rooms and more.

1. Final test, quizzes, and worksheet

If you are wanting your students to do a test for their final assessment, you might like this final test by Adam Kershaw. The download includes a final test, as well as two reading quizzes for the novel and two review worksheets.

The final test is 70 questions long, and includes

  • 15 character matching questions
  • 35 multiple-choice questions
  • 10 fill-in-the-blank terms
  • and 10 True/False questions.
  • a written section with three short answer questions and an essay response

2. Escape room review game

IF your students hate revision quizzes, you might prefer this escape room review game by Nouvelle ELA. The revision game helps students revise the novel Slaughterhouse-Five in a fun way, with questions covering topics such as

  • characters and quotes
  • motifs
  • close readings
  • teacher’s guide (set-up, printing checklist, differentiation)
  • extension activities
  • an answer key

The review game takes between 40-50 minutes for most students. It can be completed as either a breakout box where students work at their desks or as an escape room where students move around the room completing the clues.


3. Clinical research paper

If you’re looking for a written assessment, you might like this clinical research paper by English Elixir. In the task, students get a case study of someone who is experiencing PTSD.

Students must analyze the case study and apply research to write an essay about PTSD and how it applies to the novel. The assignment sheet, case studies, and rubric are all included.

4. Expository essay writing task

If you are wanting your students to write an expository essay, you might like this expository essay writing task by Write On with Jamie.

The lesson can be run in-class, for homework, as a flipped classroom lesson, or independently during distance learning as it can be uploaded to most learning management systems.

In the no-prep activity, students watch a video with an expository writing tutorial that shows students the process of writing an expository essay using supporting evidence from the novel. Aspects of writing an expository essay covered in the lesson plan for Slaughterhouse-Five include

  • brainstorming ideas
  • creating a thesis
  • introducing supporting evidence
  • writing hooks, leads, and conclusions
  • using appropriate transitions
  • and incorporating the six traits of writing.

The common core-aligned Slaughterhouse-Five lesson plan has what you need to implement the lesson, including instructional procedures, lesson objectives, direct instruction, guided practice, enrichment, differentiation strategies, and essential questions.

Students also get worksheets to prompt their writing, brainstorm their ideas, develop their thesis, and take notes on how to write an expository essay. Students also use an interactive PowerPoint to identify key vocabulary, list essay ideas, develop their thesis, and identify what their essay needs using a checklist.

Finally, an essay rubric and graphic organizer are included in this Google Slides-ready lesson plan.


5. Assessment task bundle

Another option if you’re wanting to assess your students using a test is this assessment task bundle by Juggling ELA. The bundle includes five quizzes and a unit test for Slaughterhouse-Five.

Each of the quizzes/tests are editable and have answer keys. They also use a variety of question types including true/false, fill in the blanks, character matching, short answer, and essay response questions.

6. Socratic seminar questions

Another option, if your students prefer to speak instead of write, is this list of Socratic seminar questions by Bradley Thompson.

In the download, there are thirteen open-ended, high-level questions that students use to critically analyze Slaughterhouse-Five. The questions cover topics such as

  • character archetypes
  • characterization
  • comic relif
  • genre
  • irony
  • plot
  • point of view
  • sociocultural context
  • themes
  • and the significance of the title

Whole-unit bundles for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five

Now, if you’ve read or scrolled this far, you probably are wanting more then a one-off lesson plan for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five.

You’re probably looking for a whole unit bundle so that you can spend time with your family/friends/passion project/book instead of lesson planning on the weekend. If so, we’ve got a couple of choices for you down below.

1. Whole unit bundle by Candace Horner

The first whole-unit bundle of activities for teaching Slaughterhouse-Five is this one by Candace Horner. The bundle includes

  • a background PowerPoint with essays about Kurt Vonnegut
  • chapter questions PowerPoint with a basic introduction to the plot, characters, setting, theme and style of the novel, as well as chapter questions for every chapter
  • two creative writing and analytical writing assignments
  • ten short stories by Vonnegut
  • vocabulary and literary devices quizzes
  • a digital board game to review the novel, with over two hundred and fifty questions
  • a final exam with an answer key

2.Full unit bundle by SJ Brull


The second option we have today is this five-week unit plan by SJ Brull. Included in the plan are

  • an anticipation and reflection guide – a two-page handout with quotes relating to the text’s themes. Students need to respond whether they agree or disagree with the statement and then explain their opinion. There are teacher notes on how to turn this into a class discussion.
  • quote analysis and reading quizzes – the reading quizzes help you gauge student comprehension and the quote analysis helps students learn to read for a deeper understanding of themes
  • theme tracking notes – students research themes and track them while reading. They use this later to create an author’s theme statement.
  • film and text essay – an elements of film handout, essay graphic organizer, grading rubric, and notes for the teacher that you can use while showing an adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five.
  • character analysis packet with three activities – firstly, a guided space for students to illustrate, describe, record, and analyze evidence about character development in the novel. Secondly, a character-theme graffiti table to help students understand how minor characters support the theme development. Lastly, a creative character review project that encourages abstract thinking and evidence-based writing
  • post-reading discussion in the Socratic method: a semi-structured approach to class discussions with a 20-slide PowerPoint that explains the Socratic method. Students get a preparation worksheet and reflection. You also get instructions on how to hold a class discussion.
  • author study – students create a Facebook profile, Facebook newsfeed, Facebook exit tickets, and Twitter exit tickets about Kurt Vonnegut. There is also extra information on how you can use these in different ways throughout the unit.
  • theme and quote poster – two different styles of printable posters that highlight key themes from the novel

3. Unit teaching materials by English Elixir


Another option for a whole unit to use while teaching Slaughterhouse-Five is this one by English Elixir. The bundle includes many activities, including the clinical research paper already mentioned.

Other activities included in the bundle are

  • a mini-literary analysis prompts with rubric
  • gallery walk
  • create your own alien race project
  • alien sightings webquest
  • write, create, present final project
  • subject/theme group activity
  • build your own paideia instruction and paideia materials
  • reading questions and teaching activities
  • teacher tips and suggested calendar
  • figurative language chart
  • motif chart
  • vocabulary
  • Vietnam poetry analysis
  • alien drawing and poem

That’s all for today . . .

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