6 cool ways teachers are using The Hunger Games in the classroom

Apr 01, 2013
Over the past few years, The Hunger Games trilogy has taken the world by storm, inspiring everything from community discussions, book clubs, and theme parties to jewelry, desserts, and even holiday decorations. With the growing popularity of the series, it’s been amazing to see fans worldwide share their enthusiasm and voice their excitement about reading. One of my favorite parts of Hunger Games-mania, though, is seeing the creative ways in which teachers are using The Hunger Games trilogy in the classroom. After some careful research, I’ve rounded up six standout suggestions here, but we’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you teach The Hunger Games in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet at us using the hashtag #teachingHG! We’ve found that teachers are… Having students read and discuss The Hunger Games for English class. Sure, this may seem obvious, but I’m so impressed by the ways in which teachers use a popular novel as a learning tool. Perhaps the most traditional way of using The Hunger Games books in the classroom, we’ve heard of teachers worldwide using Suzanne Collins’s trilogy to help students understand structure, thematic analysis, symbolism, and literary devices. Reading the books for fun is great– but having a group of peers to discuss it with? Even better. Resources for teaching The Hunger Games trilogy abound online; the Scholastic Teachers website, for example, offers free discussion guides, videos, downloads, printables, and author information. The New York Times‘ “The Learning Network” blog ran a great piece on ideas and resources, as well. Be sure to check it out! Using The Hunger Games to foster a love of reading. Here at Scholastic, we firmly believe in every child’s right to read, and think it’s critically important to Read Every Day. As we say in our Reading Bill of Rights, young people need to read nonfiction for information to understand their world, and literature for imagination to understand themselves. Many teachers agree that what children read doesn’t matter, so long as they’re reading, and it seems that The Hunger Games trilogy is a great way to According to a piece that ran in The Columbus Dispatch last year, “teachers say it’s easier to help students analyze what’s beneath the surface of a story, such as plot, climax and conflict, when they are invested in the story.” Needless to say, with cliff-hanger after cliff-hanger and relatable, lovable characters, The Hunger Games is easy to invest in, and seems to be popular with both boys and girls. Incorporating The Hunger Games into subjects other than English, and in ways that are Common Core-ready. Whether it’s tying The Hunger Games into a math unit on probability or teaching archery in gym class, teachers are building entire semesters around these young adult novels. As this post from “The Learning Network” suggests, science teachers can draw upon The Hunger Games by having students investigate genetically engineered organisms (this science teacher did just that and used The Hunger Games to help his students prepare for a biology test; another teacher had students create silver parachutes like the ones Sponsors send in order to illustrate physics.) Encouraging students to think outside the box with Hunger Games-inspired assignments. Whether encouraging students to draw their interpretations of Panem or design faux Facebook profiles for each of the characters, teachers are finding creative assignments that keep students hooked and engaged in their reading material. One teacher, Mrs. Orman, who runs a blog called Hunger Games Lessons, had her students make Hunger Games-inspired cakes! (So cool–channeling your inner Peeta while using math!) Hosting events modeled after those in the books. From a class reaping and training stations to holding a mock Hunger Games competition, teachers are coming up with dynamic, interactive activities that bring the text to life for students. (For inspiration, check out this series of challenges that took place at Bristol Eastern High School!) Using The Hunger Games to encourage social action and effect change. There was a really interesting article in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy last year about the ways in which The Hunger Games reflects the very real horrors that take place around the world and the ways in which people can, like Katniss, take action in their communities to stand up for injustice. And teaching The Hunger Games isn’t limited to middle and high school. A friend of mine who happens to be a sociology professor is having her first-year college students write their final paper on the trilogy. The assignment? To put themselves in the shoes of a sociologist living in a post-Panem world and explain the sociological reasons behind why the Hunger Games occurred in the first place. Again, teachers– we’d love to hear from you about the ways you’re using The Hunger Games in the classroom!