With its recent domination of the box office and the bestseller lists, “The Hunger Games” offers teachers a timely opportunity to incorporate elements of popular culture into daily lesson plans to help grab students’ attention.
A tale of a dystopian future in which teens must fight for survival, the young adult novels and the first installment in the planned movie trilogy contain numerous themes and issues ripe for discussion and study in a classroom setting. Teachers of subjects ranging from English to geography can find elements to investigate in “The Hunger Games.”
English: A Discussion of Human Struggles
Common human struggles relating to oppression, politics, humanity, equality and empowerment are themes found throughout the novels and in the movie. Studying the characters and the challenges they face could provide a framework for students to begin in-depth discussions and develop compassion for those suffering from injustice. Students can write essays about their opinions.
Art: An Expression of Emotion
Allow students to express themselves through themed art after reading one or more of the novels or viewing the movie. For example, students could create a sculpture of the most exciting moment in the storyline or create a model or painting of how the people of District 12 looked on Reaping Day. Have students discuss their completed artwork in order to strengthen their public speaking and presentation skills.
Health: Nourishment is Essential for Survival
“The Hunger Games” is a classic study in the necessity of providing nourishment in order to ensure survival. Students can research the characters living in outlying districts of Panem, as well as the contestants in the games, to determine their appearance, what they ate and their overall health.
Math: ‘And May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor!’
Have students analyze statistics and compute the odds of the characters’ names being chosen to compete in the Hunger Games. Hold a mock Reaping Day for the name drawing in class to further illustrate this concept.
Music: ‘Sounds From District 12 and Beyond’
Students can listen to the movie soundtrack and then discuss what they liked or disliked about their chosen musical pieces. Create a forum in which they can make their own recommendations for alternate selections and defend their choice.
Science: Botany at its Best
Examine the plants that are mentioned throughout the novels. Pose questions for investigation: Which plants might be harmful to the characters and which might be helpful during times of hardship? What are the distinguishing characteristics of these plants? Are there plants that grow in your local environment that can help or harm you?
Drama: Lights, Camera, Action!
Assign students the task of acting out nonviolent scenes from the novels or movie, either solo or in groups. Take a field trip to see the movie in order to evaluate and discuss the acting and the development of the characters and storyline. Ask students to compare and contrast the book and the movie.
Social Studies: Social Issues
Pose nonbiased questions such as, “How could propaganda be used in the media to manipulate public perception?” or, “Does this occur in the world today?” Split students into small discussion groups and have them present their conclusions to the class.
Geography: Map It
Provide a map and discuss the geographical layout of the fictional nation of Panem and its districts. Have students create maps illustrating which districts produced which goods for the entire nation or have them build 3-D models of Panem.
By taking advantage of material that already captures the interest of many youngsters – such as “The Hunger Games” books and movie – teachers can gain an advantage in ensuring students’ time on-task and attention levels.
Students who are excited about the classroom material and associated activities are likely to learn the concepts at a higher level – and that equates to great teaching.
This is a guest post from University Alliance on behalf of the online programs from Dominican University. The Master of Arts in Education degrees from Dominican University give certified teachers the skills and credentials to advance their teaching career.