"Where the Wild Things Are" Lesson Plans

"Where the Wild Things Are" lesson plans can help students appreciate the beauty of words and illustrations.

By Cathy Neushul


wild things

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of those books that you can read once, but will remember forever. It's the simple story of a boy who gets sent to bed without his supper because he "made mischief of one kind and another." We all know someone like that. Instead of sulking in his room, Max sails away "through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are." Here he meets with adventure, and friendship, and learns to appreciate what he has at home. It's the kind of tale that resonates with anyone, young and old alike.

Even without the beautiful, poetic language, the story would be memorable because of Sendak's illustrations. The world he created was not one of traditional beauty. The wild things are scary looking with big horns, oddly colored bodies, and long, sharp claws. Even some of the trees in the story are bright with unnatural colors making us believe that we have entered another realm. With a movie based on "Where the Wild Things Are" set to come out October 16th, this might be a terrific time to take another look at this book and delve into the rest of the Sendak library. Sendak wrote several books including In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There. He is known for both his stories and illustrations.

Along with engaging in Where the Wild Things Are activities, you may want to give students a little background on Where the Wild Things Arethe life of the author and illustrator. Sendak was born in New York to Polish immigrants in 1928. He spent a lot of his childhood sick in bed, and this was when he first became interested in drawing. Later, Sendak became a window dresser for a toy store, and, eventually, a children's book illustrator. It didn't take long before Sendak started to tell his own stories using a rich imagination full of poetic language and imagery.

The lesson plans that follow can help you make Where the Wild Things Are lessons come alive.

"Where the Wild Things Are" Lesson Plans:

Maurice Sendak: Imagination and Art

Pupils use the book Where the Wild Things Are to discuss the importance of reading, Maurice Sendak's books, and to write and illustrate a class book in the elementary school grades. For older students, the book can be used as a starting point to writing an opera such as the one created in the eighties.

Wild Things-Texture and Pattern

Learners create their own "wild things" after taking a look at Sendak's illustrations. I would suggest adding a writing activity to this lesson in order to have pupils use their imagination to create their own story.

Wild Thing Illustration Creation!

Scholars learn about Maurice Sendak, listen to the story Where the Wild Things Are, and create their own illustrations. This resource comes with an assessment checklist that could be used to ensure that students' creatures are truly original and imaginative.

Do You Have Character?

Have your class talk about static and dynamic characters through discussing Where the Wild Things Are and the Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. At the end of the lesson, pupils write their own short stories containing dynamic and static characters. Review more Bridge to Terabithia lesson plans.

Beginning, Middle, and Ending

Your class learns about the beginning, middle, and end of a book using Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. They use music to identify the beginning, middle, and end as well.


Writing Guide

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Cathy Neushul