A Year Down Yonder Extension Activity
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
1. Pretend that you are Mary Alice and write a diary entry that tells how you would have reacted to the news that you, "a city girl," had to attend a "hick-town" school and live below a spooky attic in a house that had no phone, a privy, and a Grandma even your mother fears.
At the beginning of the book, Mary Alice explains she has spent time at her Grandma's house, but only for a week over the summer with her brother there, too. It's a very different proposition to live there, attend school, and really be a part of the community. The moment Mary Alice steps off the train, her Grandma enrolls her in school. Her Grandma continues to surprise her, but perhaps the biggest surprise is how Mary Alice begins to fall into life with her Grandma and enjoy her time "down yonder."
2. With a partner, dramatize one of the scenes in the story or write and perform an advertisement for one of Grandma's products, such as Dowdel's Super Glue.
In the book, there are many scenes that lend themselves to dramatic interpretation, including the Halloween scene and when Augie accidentally shoots out the Legionnaire's car tire during the turkey shoot on Armistice Day.
Additionally, there are several opportunities for original advertisements; including Grandma's pies (Old Man Nyquist's Pecan and Pensingers' Pumpkin) and tarts (cherry for Presidents' Day, of course). As well as the burgoo that Grandma squeezes every penny out of. (pp. 44-48)
3. In A Year Down Yonder, the author creates larger-than-life characters. Look for their descriptions in the novel. Then choose one of the characters and draw a caricature of him or her based on the description in the book. Beneath your caricature, write the name of the character and the quotation from the novel that inspired the drawing.
Some examples of larger-than-life characters are Grandma when "Moonlight struck her snow-white hair and she looked eight feet tall" during the Halloween incident. (p. 26) Ina-Rae is described as "a starved-looking girl with big eyes." (p. 12) Grandma points out Mildred Burdock as "that big girl with the dirty hair." (p. 10)