The Hunger Games
Enjoy this exciting novel with your students, and safely bring the games to life in your classroom!
By Jenna Loeser
The literary phenomena known as The Hunger Games is a science-fiction trilogy by Suzanne Collins that is taking the country by storm. Stealing the hearts of adults and children alike, it is a must-read for you and your students. From the very beginning, the all-consuming storyline will capture your attention and leave you wanting more until the very last page. Luckily, two more books follow in its place, continuing the adventures of the main characters Katniss and Peeta.
Create Your Own Hunger Games
Once your students have read The Hunger Games, you can bring the events of the novel to life in your classroom. Due to the violence in the book, it probably isn't the best idea to specifically recreate your own "Hunger Games." However, you can still come up with many variations that follow the general purpose and meaning behind the games. One way to do this is to divide your class into multiple districts, just as the people of Panem were separated. Assign each district their own specialty, such as science, math, English, or focus on a subtopics of a certain subject. For example, if your class is studying astronomy, have each group be an expert on a different planet. Allow your students to choose a team name that best represents their topic. Once each group has had time to research and study their planet, set up opportunities for each expert group to share their knowledge with other groups, giving students time to mingle and visit the other districts. One way to motivate students to learn about each other's groups is to set up a trivia challenge. Stress the importance of learning as much as possible from other districts so that when the competition starts, every team will have some knowledge of each specialty and the types of questions that will be asked. Create the trivia questions yourself, or allow students 15 minutes to talk amongst themselves and write questions pertaining to their district's specialty.
Always Room for Art
Before the games begin, allow some class time for this fabulous art project: team flags! Students can creatively decorate the large construction-paper flags that will represent their district. To make this an academic activity, require that each flag contain facts, images, and symbols that accurately represent their expertise area. If you have enough time, you could conduct an opening ceremony before the games begin and have a representative from each team carry their flag around the room.
Let the Games Begin!
At this point, everyone should be ready for the games to start. As the teacher, you will ask the questions and keep score. Every student will get an opportunity to answer one or more questions, depending upon the time allotted. You can add a level of surprise to the games by announcing that, although the class is divided into teams, each individual must now fend for themselves, mimicking the experience of the Hunger Games participants. By doing this, your classroom competition will more accurately mimic the games from the novel, since there can only be one winner. Award the student who answers the most questions correctly with a fake gold medal, a free-homework pass, or any other reward you dream up, and assign a "penalty" to the rest of the class, like having them take a lap around your school. In the novel, the losers of the games faced death, so you can explain to your students that running a lap is a far smaller consequence.
Taking it Home
Following this activity, assign your students a take-home essay where they must express their opinions of the novel and the classroom competition they just took part in. You can create a prompt for them to follow or allow their creative thoughts to flow naturally. Encourage them to consider how it must have felt for Katniss or Peeta to have participated in the games with their lives on the line. Also, ask your class to give their opinion as to whether they would have preferred to have a partner or small team to fight with in the games. With thought-provoking questions like these, your students will think critically about the novel and will hopefully walk away excited to read the next two books.