based on Runt
by Marion Dane Bauer
About the Book
Runt is a wonderful story about a young wolf pup that is born quite a bit smaller than the others in his litter. Although he looks like his father, King, he is named Runt. As he grows and becomes familiar with this new world, he can't seem to do anything right. His adventures are exciting as he is learning more and more about different animals, including humans, and the perils a young wolf must face as they grow. He is out to prove to his father and the other members of his pack that he doesn't deserve his given name.
The author winds a story around real behaviors of wolves in the wild. Included at the end of the story is an Afterword which explains to the reader more about wolves, intended to educate and hopefully increase empathy toward these animals. Also included is a bibliography for young readers and adult readers, alike
Set the Stage
Talk about the cover. Ask the students what a runt is. Record their responses on a KWL chart or another graphic organizer. Also discuss what the animal might be. Explain that it is a wolf and that a runt is any animal who is born very much smaller than an average sized animal of the same species. Sometimes sickly, they don't survive very long. Ask for information about wolves to record on the KWL chart. Start a prediction notebook. Let the students predict what they think the story will be about.
After reading the story, discuss with these questions:
- Why did King give Runt the new name of Singer?
- Do you think this is a good name for Runt? Why or why not?
- In what ways do wolves work together to support the pack?
- Why did the pack keep Bider when he really should have left after losing the first challenge to King? What do you think will happen now that Bider is gone?
- How do you think the story would be different if Bider was the leader of the pack?
- Raven was a frequent character in the story. He even helped the wolves find food and kept Runt from eating the poison meat. Why would a raven help wolves?
This reproducible will allow students to practice finding synonyms using resources such as a dictionary or thesaurus.
Try one of these activities to extend the lesson:
- Whats Your Prediction?: Have students continue to write in the prediction notebook that they began as a pre-reading activity. Allow students to read a chapter and then record their prediction for the next chapter. After reading Chapter One, students can follow up by recording whether or not their prediction is correct and why. Follow this pattern for each chapter. This is a good way to check for reading comprehension.
- Homes & Habitats: Students can work together to draw a mural of the wolves habitat. Use the book as a resource to gather information for the habitat, for what kind of trees, bodies of water and animals to draw. Use a large sheet of bulletin board paper to draw the scenery. The students can research the animals mentioned (striped chipmunk, raven, porcupine, skunk, green frog, grouse, red belly snake, deer, moose, weasel, pileated woodpecker, rabbit, owl, swallowtail butterfly, etc.) as well as the wolf, and draw those on separate paper. They can be easily cut out and glued on to the mural. Books on wolves listed in the bibliography can also be a great resource for this project.
- Become a Poet: Students can write Haiku or Cinquain poetry about wolves or another animal from the story. Haiku poems are three lines long with 5, 7, and 5 syllables in each consecutive line. Here is an example:
Runt was a young wolfA Cinquain poem has five lines. Each line has a different number of words and purpose. Line one is the title and has two words. Line two is a description and has four words. Line three has six words and describes action. Line four has eight words and describes feeling. Line five is a synonym of the title and has two words. Here is an example of a Cinquain poem:
who wanted to impress King
and help the pack survive
Moves swiftly to hunt
Running, searching, sniffing, following, tracking, finding
To keep the pack fed, healthy, and strong
- Surfing for Wolves: There are many good Web sites about wolves for children on the internet. They can be bookmarked or marked in some way for safe Web researching. Some examples are: www.wolf.org; www.nwf.org/wildlife/graywolf; www.zoobooks.com. Students can research facts, play games and even hear what a wolf sounds like.