Download a plot graph for Jerry Spinelli’s Milkweed. The three-page download includes a cover page, labeled plot graph, and blank plot graph.
This download is also available in our Milkweed zip folder bundle along with:
• A packet of 55 common-core based questions separated by chapter
• Our exclusive “Find Four” game using quotes containing simile and metaphor from the book with page numbers. Super-fun!
• A book cover project detailing how to create new front, back, and inside covers of Milkweed
• A set of argument prompts for essay writing
I like to study Milkweed because Jerry Spinelli does not sugarcoat one of the most horrific episodes in our recent history. Spinelli masterfully takes the students one step forward, sort of shakes them up, takes one step back, and then moves forward again. As the chapters progress, the shake-ups become more frequent while remaining realistically based. This book also aligns well with Common Core since it is easy to augment the book with historical documents and other WWII era non-fiction.
Milkweed has been a part of my curriculum for about seven years. I am not a history teacher, however, I usually begin the book by walking the students through a quick study of WWI, the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler’s hatred of Jews and his rise to power. There are also many video clips of Hitler that I will show the kids especially a clip of one of his early speeches (circa 1933), a clip of German soldiers (Jackboots) marching, and clip of Hitler speaking circa 1940. It is also helpful to find an image of Himmler while explaining Himmler’s role in establishing the Ghettos and camps.
Maps play a big part of our study of Milkweed as well. I copy off a WWII era map of Europe depicting ghettos and concentration camps. I also copy off a map of the Warsaw Ghetto so that students can see how the Ghetto was situated near the railroad station. The Warsaw Ghetto map should indicate the location of Dr. Korczak’s orphanage. It is helpful to show students photos of Dr. Korczak and briefly discuss his biographical information.
As we read through the book, I usually introduce the concept of resistance. This will happen around chapter 30 – ish. There are many examples of resistance in the book that are worth pointing out to the students. I also teach students about the Warsaw Ghetto milk cans and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
I don’t have questions about re-curing objects like bread, pickles, hazelnut buttercreams, and oranges but I do bring them up as discussion points. One thing I added last year was to pick up a pair of girl’s black patent leather shoes at a thrift store. I took a marker and wrote, “Janina’s” on one and “Shoes” on the other. I draw attention to the shoes as we read the story because the gradual degradation of Janina’s shoes mirror the degradation of Janina the character. I will also bring in big loafs of French bread (the symbolism of bread=life is clear when they are munching on bread), oranges, chocolate creams, and a couple of those huge deli pickles that are sometimes hard to find (otherwise, students don’t realize the size of the pickle Uri steals).
Depending on what else is happening in my school and my district, I usually spend around five weeks on the novel. Have some tissue on hand for the last chapter! I usually have one box just for me – Poppynoodle gets me every single time!
Milkweed Plot Graph by Melissa Detrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attibution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp