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Fiction Elements in Hatchet

Subject: Arts & Humanities: Language Arts
Grades: 6-8, 9-12

Brief Description

Lesson includes reading a story, identifying elements of fiction, creating a project about survival, and making a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate student comprehension.



  • identify elements of fiction.
  • improve listening skills by reading and listening to a story.
  • develop writing, thinking, and organizing skills.
  • learn new technology skills.


comprehension, fiction, hatchet, Gary Paulsen, plot, PowerPoint, survival, survive

Materials Needed

  • a copy of Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen -- optional: audio version of the story
  • computers with Internet access and PowerPoint software. This activity teaches technology skills, but it could be adapted for use without computers; students could create pages of a book instead of PowerPoint slides.

Lesson Plan

Notes About The Lesson: This lesson was developed for use with special education students, but it could be adapted for use with any group of students. I teach block schedule, which means that the class meets every other day; my students needed time in each class session to review and remember details of the plot that took place in our reading the day before. I have done the lesson by reading the story aloud ; I have also used the audiotape version.


  1. Introduce the unit by asking "How well could you survive a disaster or an emergency? What special skills or knowledge would you need? Have you had a personal survival experience you'd like to share?" Explain to students that they are about to read a story about a boy who has to depend on himself to survive.
  2. Introduce the concepts of setting, characters, plot, climax, resolution, and theme. Relate those concepts to something familiar to the students; you might use a children's story, such as "Three Little Pigs," "Cinderella," or "The Emperor's New Clothes," or a TV show. Explain that students will look for literary elements as they read the story.
  3. Each day, read a section of the story. After reading, pose a simple five-question, short-answer listening quiz.
  4. Each day, have students create PowerPoint slides relating to the day's reading. Allow about 30 minutes for students or groups of students to prepare slides and save them. Some examples of the slides students might create are
    • Title-author slide (including student's name)
    • Character slide: Includes an image of Brian Robeson, the story's main character.
    • Plot slide: Depicts elements of the plot that occurred in the daily reading. For example, after reading the section of the story about the plane crash, some students created a slide to tell about it; they incorporated airplane clip art into their slides.
    • Resources slide: Depicts the resources Brian has to help him, such as a hatchet, himself.
    • Problems of survival: Illustrates a problem from the story, such as finding food or shelter, recognizing poisonous berries, confronting a skunk, or killing a bird
    • Resolution: Depicts Brian's rescue.
  5. To review what was read previously, begin each class meeting by showing some of the presentations made the day before.
  6. When students finish reading the book, ask them to write about one of a handful of essay topics, such as "A Country Boy Can Survive" or "How School Helped Brian Survive." Students complete the assignment for a writing grade.
  7. Students work on their final projects: First, they choose a "survival" scenario -- for example, how to survive in a cold climate, a desert, a forest; how to survive if the automobile broke down; if they were stuck at home without electricity; if a tornado or flood hit. Then they research, or work from their own knowledge, to create a "survival kit" related to the scenario they chose. Some students create PowerPoint survival kits; others draw survival kits or use pictures cut out of magazines.
  8. Students present their projects to the class. PowerPoint presentations are viewed and applauded by classmates.
  9. To check comprehension, give students a test covering the entire story.
Another possible activity: Have students create a time line. Each day, they add significant events that happen in the story.

More Notes About the Lesson: Employing technology (PowerPoint) helped motivate students and kept them focused on the story as we read. Following are notes that relate some things I learned from doing this unit:

  • At the start of the unit, I am very specific about the information students should include on their slides; I give the topic, and we discuss what information they might include. As the unit progresses, I give them less direction and allow them to be more creative.
  • I limit the clip art resources that students can use. Searching for clip art can be time consuming. Choosing seems to be difficult for my students, and looking is fun.
  • I assign 1 to 3 slides each day, depending on the student. (As the students become more comfortable with PowerPoint, they gain speed in working with it.) From time to time, I introduce a new PowerPoint feature, such as color, animation and, last of all, the dreaded sound effects and transitions!


Give five-question quizzes for daily grades. Grade PowerPoint presentations and writing according to your guidelines.

Submitted By

Iylene Dew, Hughes Springs High School, Hughes Springs, Texas

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