Happy New Year! The Best of Hunger Games in 2011

Seeing Josh as Peeta in EW was one of my highlights!

This past year was a whirlwind of news for Hunger Games fans. What was your favorite news for 2011? Many of the admins. from our favorite fan sites weighed-in at Movies.com with their favorites. And I agree with them all!

There is no way I can pick a favorite. I can, however, narrow down a few of mine.

Josh as Peeta
Hearing that Jennifer Lawrence would play Katniss was great, but even better for me was the casting of Peeta. I have been a Josh Hutcherson fan for a long time. When his name was announced, I had complete faith in the rest of the casting. He is perfect for Peeta and the fact that Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross saw that (even though he may not have looked like people thought Peeta should) renewed my excitement for the movie. You see, I've always been a bit leery about my favorite books being made into movies. Too often they never turn out as I thought or they completely changed things. Just knowing Josh was cast as Peeta made me a believer in this movie.

Daily Casting Announcements
The cast announcements of April were exciting for me because I was teaching The Hunger Games at the time. Each day a new character or tribute was announced I put a picture up on my white board for my students. When they came into the room for English class, many would go straight to the board to see the latest casting. We'd discuss the actor choice (most of the tributes I had never heard of, but we talked about their looks and if that was how we pictured them). I even had former students stopping by to see who was cast. It was a holiday-like atmosphere in class, which is always nice when it generates excitement for a BOOK and reading (a rare occurrence for high-schoolers). It was also genius on Lionsgate's part, stringing us along like that. It drove us mad, but we loved it.

The Teaser to the Trailer
I didn't even know there was such a thing (a teaser to a trailer, that is). Or that 30 seconds could be oh, so satisfying. Yes, the teaser generated even more anticipation for the movie, which did add to my anxiousness, but in a good way.

The Full-Length Trailer
What a big, big day this was! Watching this LIVE in my classroom with my first-period English II class was definitely a top moment for me. I have my largest group of students first period and some of them are quite chatty. But when the intro came on, those same chatty students were shushing others and the room went silent. Even after it finished, we were all still in awe. We just sat there for a moment, with "wow" looks on our faces. Then the kids burst out, complaining that it ended at THAT PART. "How could they just stop it right there?" I know. I know! And even some of the most reluctant kids to get into the book said they could not wait to see the movie. It was a happy, happy day!

Listening, Tweeting, and Interacting With My Friends at The Hunger Games Fireside Chat
I have been fortunate enough to get to know so many great people in The Hunger Games fandom. This is due largely to Savanna New and Adam Spunberg, hosts of the weekly Hunger Games Fireside Chat podcast. Through them, I have made so many great friends from sites like Hunger Games Down With the Capitol, Mockingjay, The Hob, Victor's Village, Hunger Games Examiner, Hunger Games Girl on Fire, the music of District Tribute, The Katniss Chronicles, Hunger Games Parody, and so many more. Without this weekly broadcast, I would have never been able to converse with, collaborate with, and share in our love for the series. I know that the insights offered by the guests and regular participants have enhanced my knowledge of The Hunger Games. Thank you all for your fabulous conversations in 2011!

First Edition, First Printing Signed Copies of The Hunger Games Trilogy
My final favorite moment was a private one, but I did share with my Twitter and Facebook friends (OK, maybe "not so private" in that regard!). My husband surprised me on Christmas morning with first-edition, first-printing of all three novels. In addition, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were signed by Suzanne Collins. You have no idea how excited I was. I seriously thought the box contained a portable sweeper for our tile floors (which I was asking for since out last one fizzled out). And I would have been completely happy with a sweeper, by the way. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box. Yes, it was truly the highlight of my year!

What were your favorite Hunger Games moments from 2011? 
Share them below or post a link!


Hunger Games Inspired Valentine Cards

Last year I was inspired by our friends over at Novel Novice and their literature-inspired Valentines, so I created some fun Hunger Games Valentines (shown on right).

This year I've expanded my "collection" into a full-blown download (in higher-quality for better printing).  You can download them in my store {HERE}, or on Scribd {HERE}.

Here's a preview of some of the newer Valentines that you can share with your students. Or, better yet, have them create their own, inspired by any book! You can download a template {HERE}.


Middle and High School Teacher Link Up

Do you teach middle or high school (any subject)? Do you blog or have your own website?

If you answered yes to both of those questions, head over to the Secondary Solutions Link Up for Secondary Teachers. You'll be able to post your blog or website in your field so others can find you. It's a great place to find other teachers in your field!

The Liebster Award!

Thank you to Christina over at Sea Bear's Kindergarten for awarding Hunger Games Lessons/Mrs. Orman's Classroom with the Liebster Award. Here's a little background on the award:
Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
  1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
  3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
  4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.
I am honored to accept this and pass it on the the following blogs:

Make sure you check out those great sites! And thanks, again, Christina, for the award!


Hunger Games Movie Tickets Alert!

If you are anything like me, you're probably extremely excited to see "The Hunger Games" movie, which will debut March 23rd.

If you want to be alerted when advance movie tickets go on sale, sign up by clicking on the "Alert Me!" button to your left. Fandango will let you know where the movie will be playing in your area, movie times, and when you can purchase tickets in advance online. You'll also be able to purchase them right from my site when they go on sale, as well.

And make sure you follow my posts here because I'll also be giving away tickets in March! You won't want to miss that opportunity. Thanks for signing up!


Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...An Early Holiday Gift From Taylor Swift...

Taylor Swift released "Safe and Sound" last night, a single from "The Hunger Games" movie official soundtrack. For this week's "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm..." I'd like to ponder which scene the song may be paired with. (As always, there are spoilers for those who have not read the novel.)

Down With the Capitol posted the song and the lyrics and asked fans which part of the movie/novel they think it goes with. Fans seem to be torn between the "cave" scene where Katniss drugs Peeta before going to the feast and the scene from chapter 18 with Rue (or after...). At least one fan said it reminded them of Katniss saying goodbye to Prim.

I am partial to the scene with Rue because of the lullaby reference and the title itself. Rue asks Katniss to stay with her when she says "Don't go" on page 234 in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Then when Rue asks Katniss to sing, she thinks of the "mountain air" lullaby, or meadow song. "Safe and Sound" by Swift seems to mirror the lyrics in the meadow song, telling listeners that tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will bring hope and peace.
From the meadow song (or Rue's Lullaby):
"Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you." (p. 235)
and from Swift's song, via Theresa at Down With the Capitol:
"Just close your eyes
sun is going down
You’ll be all right
no one can hurt you now
Come morning light
you and I will be safe and sound."

On page 238 Katniss hears a young mockingjay sing Rue's four-note call, "The ones that mean she's safe."
"'Good and safe,' I say...'We don't have to worry about her now.' Good and safe." (p. 238)
I can see this song being played as Katniss walks away from Rue, thinking that now she will be "Good and safe."

Though, I can also see this applying to the cave scene from chapter 21, as well. These lyrics seem to apply to Peeta when he is dying in the cave and Katniss makes the decision to go to the feast to get the life-saving medicine for him:
"Don’t you dare look out your window
Darlin' everything’s on fire
the war outside our door keeps raging on
Hold on to this lullaby
Even when the music's gone
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be all right
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound."

So, here's what I think. I think they'll play some of the song (at least the beginning) after Rue's death. Then I think they'll start the second half of the song just as Katniss is giving Peeta the sleep syrup and continue it through the night as she gets ready for (and is on her way to) the feast. Those alone moments will need music playing in the background and this song seems to fit both scenes. I can see how it applies to Prim, as well. For that matter, it could also play during the re-cap of the Games and the train ride home. Perhaps the song will carry out in several scenes. I think it's a testament to the powerful writing of Suzanne Collins, showing how the theme of hope carries through the entire book. Katniss may seem to lose hope many times, but it's always there: sacrificing herself to give Prim hope for a better life; sharing herself with Rue and giving Rue hope with the lullaby; risking her life to save Peeta, giving him hope. Her intent may not have always seemed sacrificial, but her actions spoke loudly. I love the fact that the songwriters picked up on this theme, even though the song is seemingly so sad (and I know I will cry no matter which part of the movie it is played).

I found the emotion very raw and gripping in the song. I'm not a country music fan, never heard of The Civil Wars, and didn't care all that much for Swift's past music. But I do think this is a fitting piece and it seems to go with the rustic district feel that is portrayed in the trailer. Listening to this, hearing Swift's voice...yes, I just may have to check out what else she has (and even The Civil Wars has) to offer.

What do you think? Which part does it seem to fit the best for you? Share in the comments below!
Listen here: Taylor Swift's "Safe and Sound"

Teachers - have your students analyze the lyrics to the song and decide which part (or parts) of the novel would be most fitting. Then have a classroom debate. Students could work in groups or alone. Allow them to listen to the song, as well. The music itself sets the tone for the lyrics and helps students with analysis.


100 Ways to Pass the Time Before The Hunger Games Movie Premiere

Thanks to Savanna from The Hunger Games Fireside Chat, here's 100 things to do before the premiere of The Hunger Games movie. Watch the video, print out the check list, and start twirling... (#54)
Then comment below with your favorite!

Classroom Connection:
Better yet, have your students come up with their own lists. What are 100 things that are related to the novel that they could do?
Have small groups come up with 10 things and collaborate to make a top 100 as a class.
For 1:1 classes: To make it interactive, create a Google Doc and share; let each student type their suggestion.

100 Things to Do Before 'The Hunger Games' Opens in March


The Katniss Chronicles Brings The Hunger Games to Life

Are you anxiously awaiting "The Hunger Games" movie? Are you excited to see your favorite characters act out scenes from the novel? Well, here's some good news for you all: you don't have to wait. Just listen to The Katniss Chronicles. After one episode (heck, after one minute), you will be hooked.

The Katniss Chronicles is a group of highly talented actors who have adapted the text, giving life to Suzanne Collins' words. Combine their talent with slick sound effects and the beautiful music of Sam Cushion and you have a work of art. Executive Producer Barbra Dillon plays Katniss Everdeen, mastering the Appalachian accent and portraying our girl on fire with the same emotion and humility as the character in the book. I enjoy how Katniss' thoughts are distinguished by an almost dream-like voice, making it very easy to tell the difference between the words she speaks out loud, and her private rumination. The other characters' voices are also spot-on, sounding exactly as I imagined (even better, actually).

Other key players who make The Katniss Chronicles possible are Bryant Dillon (Staff Writer/Executive Producer), who plays Peeta with the perfect amount of boyish charm; Patrick Scott Lewis, who is the gruffy voice of Haymitch; Director/Staff Writer/Editor/Executive Producer Sam Rhodes also takes on the voices of Jayce Meshko, Greasy Sae, and the Voice of the Capitol. Working behind the scenes are Tony Caballero (Head Writer/Executive Producer), who is a professional screenwriter and Rebecca Lear, who is the Producer/Executive Producer. The full list of the cast and crew can be viewed on their website here.

The Katniss Chronicles will be broadcasting their episodes up until the movie premiere on March 23, 2012. You can see the schedule here.

One of the reasons I am gaga over these episodes is because I see the them as being a valuable classroom resource. Students who are reluctant readers and those who have learning disabilities should especially find the episodes helpful for comprehension of the text. While I have always enjoyed reading aloud important parts in the novel for my students, I cannot even come close to nailing the inflections and voices that these talented actors have. And, of course, I don't use all the sound effects, either. The episodes have a balanced mix of the text with background effects, and also bring in voices that would be naturally occurring, but not read in the text, such as the announcements at the train station. These elements will help students visualize the scenes and comprehend the story.

Classroom Connection
Try it out in your class. Play an episode for your students and ask them what they think. Here are ways you can have your students respond:
1. Discuss as a large group how they felt about: the actors who portrayed each character, the sound effects, the adaptation of the novel (was there anything they felt was left out? Anything they particularly found helpful in the adaptation?)
2. Have your students write comments on the webpages of each episode, letting the actors and producers know what they liked and/or didn't like.
3. Split your students into small groups. Have each group listen to a different episode and share with one another their thoughts. Then share with the overall group.
4. Have your students perform an episode in a podcast. Then reflect on the difficulties they faced trying to reproduce the episodes.

Share your thoughts below about The Katniss Chronicles. Have you used them in your classroom? What did you think? Do you have additional ideas for utilizing them? Please share!


Listening to Sam Cushion's Latest Album Will Make Your Students Smarter

Have you ever heard of the claim that playing Mozart in class will make your students smarter? Well, I'm here to say that playing Sam Cushion's (a.k.a. District Tribute's) latest Hunger Games-themed album has the same affect.

OK, so I do not have any hard evidence of my claim, but I will say this: playing Sam's instrumental tracks in class while students are silent reading, during group work, or while students are working on homework or a project does enhance their classroom experience. His music is meant for the novels and is a truly enriching experience for all listeners.

So, if you were looking for the perfect gift for the Hunger Games enthusiast who already seems to have it all, this would be perfect. And if you are a student, maybe you could buy this for your teacher to play in class. ;)

Here's the latest on his newest album and where you can find it:

*Press Release*
Sam Cushion, a.k.a. District Tribute, releases "Music of Panem Part 3: The Rebellion," a Mockingjay unofficial score
Date 12/12/11

Musician and Hunger Games enthusiast Sam Cushion released the third album in his Music of Panem Collection today. The latest album is titled Music of Panem Part 3: The Rebellion and is part of an unofficial score series inspired by The Hunger Games. Part 3 is the follow-up to Music of Panem Part 2: Beginning of a Rebellion, which was released in May 2011.

The new album is a collection of eleven orchestral pieces composed by Sam over the past 7 months. Each song tells a small part of the Mockingjay story. "This is really my attempt at telling the story of Mockingjay the best way I know how, through music. I'm not trying to get any of my music in the movie, I just wanted to share my passion for the books and music with as many fans as I could," says Sam. With tracks like "The Ashes - Visiting District 12" and "The Hanging Tree," Music of Panem Part 3 is sure to be a hit with Hunger Games fans of all ages.

Music of Panem Parts 1-3 are all available on iTunes, Amazon.com, DistrictTribute.com, and other online retailers.

For more information you can go to www.HungerGamesMusic.com


Hunger Games Christmas Tree

Fitting, isn't it?

I have a tiny desktop tree I take out each year in December and it's pretty bare when it comes to decorations.

When I took it out of the cupboard this year, I decided it needed a little Charlie Brown-style makeover (or should I say Cinna-style makeover!?). I made little Hunger Games ornaments (for directions, see below) that can be given away before we leave for Christmas break. I planned to add more garland with various charms, but have been a little busy with teaching. ;) If I do finish it, I'll update the pics.

Are you doing any decorating using Hunger Games as a theme? If so, post a link below. We'd love to see them!

. : * : .  Happy Holidays!  . : * : .

Close up, showing that I even included a little ornament of Seneca Crane's beard. Who doesn't love the beard?
Directions to make your own themed ornaments to give away or keep:

Supplies needed: Cardstock paper, scissors, embroidery thread or thin ribbon, labels or tape, computer & printer 
Step 1: On your computer, design some labels with your message and print. I use circle labels (1 in.) that work perfectly for this purpose. (You can find free downloads for Avery label templates by doing a Google search.) Make sure your label is not to big to stick to the back of your ornament. You can always trim your label, if needed.

Step 2: Design your ornament and print onto cardstock paper. Any shape will work; I use circles for this demonstration, but as you see on my tree, I also used a rectangular shape for the book ornament.

Step 3: Cut a piece of the thread or ribbon in about four-inch increments (longer if your ornaments are larger than three inches); then fold in half and affix to the sticky-side of the label. (If you aren't using labels, just affix to a small piece of tape.)

Step 4: Stick the label (or tape) onto the back of your ornament.

 And there you have it: Ornaments ready to be hung or shared with others!

 You can add glitter for that extra bling (I just use glitter glue and apply a thin line around the edge).
And you can try other themes, as well. 
Try your favorite sports team, show some school spirit, or showcase other books you or your students like.
Let your students choose an ornament from your tree before they leave for break. 
Or give them to students who bring you a gift for the holidays (if you teach high school like me, you won't need to make too many! ha!)
If you aren't allowed to decorate for any specific holiday, just hang the ornaments themselves on a piece of curling ribbon or fishing line and attach each end along your white board.


Things That Make Me Go Hmmm... Is Hunger Still a Factor After Mockingjay?

From Time.com's photo essay, "What the World Eats, Part 1", a German family spends $500 per week on food.
 One of the first lessons I wrote for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was a comparison between what the district citizens ate to the diets of the Capitol citizens in Panem. It's called "What They Ate" and can be found {HERE} for a free download.

When I came across a photo essay called "What the World Eats" posted on Time.com with images from the 2007 book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio, it helped me further make the connection between our world and Katniss's world in Panem. Yes, I know that we live in a world of excess while there are people starving to death every day. But seeing the images of the families from around the world with their week's worth of groceries sends the message loud and clear. It shows the viewer just how excessive some families are and what little we could actually survive on. 

Additionally, the viewer can see how many of the foods have added chemicals for preservation. And on the flip side, how much is grown and harvested by the family or a local farmer?

The viewer also sees the amount of consumer waste each family will produce by eating the prepackaged foods. How much will have to be thrown away? How much of the waste can be recycled? How much is actually organic and can be used as compost?

But probably the most lasting impression I see in the images is this: the smiles and happiness on the faces of those with so little and the frowns on the faces of those with so much. Judging by their surroundings, you would think those with so little would be miserable. But they aren't. Or, they don't look as if they are. What does this tell us about our world? 

Which, of course, leads me back to Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. (Spoiler alert!) After the war, what happens to the citizens of Panem? We know that Plutarch's plan was to form a republic where the citizens can elect representatives (p. 83-84, Mockingjay) and that Paylor was elected shortly after Katniss killed President Coin (p. 378). But what we don't know is what kind of economic system is in place at the end of the trilogy. Is it a capitalist or socialist society? Are people left to fend for themselves, or is aid provided by the government? 
A family from Ecuador who spends just $31.55 each week on food.

What happened to the Capitol citizens? As Plutarch had explained in Mockingjay, many citizens were heavily in debt and signed on to be Peacekeepers to have their debts erased (p. 83). Do they now take on jobs in construction, helping rebuild their city? Will someone like Tigris find work? Will people still purchase the outlandish furs and other fashion statements they once wore in the Capitol? Or will old habits return, and the Capitol citizens go back to their lives of excessive food, parties, and consumer waste? 

What I wonder the most, though, is whether the citizens will realize what it is like to be truly hungry, and if that will be enough to make a real change in their world? But I look at our world and see how easily we forget our past. And our present. How long does it take people to block out the images of the starving children we see on TV and go back to our three-course meals? Probably as long as it took Haymitch to find the bottles of liquor on the hovercraft ride home (p. 380).

As we enter the holiday season, think about those who are less fortunate and don't change the channel. Instead, do something. If you don't know how to help, why not find out if there are food drives in your community that you can donate to; if not, start a food drive at your school for a local food pantry; or volunteer at the food pantry or a homeless shelter. When you help others and see first-hand how others suffer, it is hard to ignore. 

Classroom Connection: 
1. When you are teaching The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, or Mockingjay, take a class period to talk to students about world hunger, and hunger in your own community. Use the "What They Ate" handout as a starting point.

2. Show the "What the World Eats" slideshow from Time.com and discuss the images. Ask students what is most surprising or shocking about each family. Ask them what their family image would look like. They can also find out how much their family spends each week for consumables, as well as how much waste they produce.

3. If your class participates in a class Games competition, have students bring in non-perishables to sponsor a tribute. The tribute with the most food items wins the Games. Then have the class deliver the food to a pantry or shelter.

In Chad, this family eats for just $1.23 per week.

All images are from Time.com.


Seneca Crane's Beard Christmas Ornament Giveaway!

Yes, you read that correctly. There is a giveaway for this ornament featuring the lovely beard of Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane from the highly anticipated Hunger Games movie (March 23rd release) based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, made by yours truly.

To enter the giveaway (winner announced TONIGHT!), head over to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat Facebook page for details. (The "details" are pretty hilarious, so even if you don't enter, it's interesting to "guess"!)

Then listen tonight to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat, episode #36 to hear the winner!

Good luck...Oops! I mean may the odds be ever in your favor!

And thanks to my friends Adam & Savanna over at the Hunger Games Fireside Chat for having this giveaway. They are the best! (Well, tied with my friends at Down With the Capitol, of course!)


Creative Class Projects: The Cherry on Top of Your Completed Unit

A "Minecraft" version of the 74th Hunger Games arena.

There's no better way to end a unit than assigning a creative project. It allows students to loosen up and have some fun with the content they've just learned. Creative projects work for all content areas, grade levels, and subject matter. Students need to practice creative thinking more often; it will help them later in life with problem solving and give them a leg-up in the job market.

So I'd like to share a slideshow of my students' latest creative projects. I'll be adding more to the mix in the next few days. And if you need some help with how to assign the projects, check out my past posts (there are links on the right side of the page to older posts), which have loads of ideas for creative projects. I also have several handouts and bundles in my teacher store.

So the next time you serve up a unit, allow your students 
to put the cherry on top!


Hunger Games Christmas Ornaments

Happy Holidays from Hunger Games Lessons!  
  On my Facebook Page I posted pictures of these Hunger Games-themed Christmas ornaments. I am giving them away to anyone who purchases a shipped product from my teacher store today and tomorrow. Heck, if I have enough left over, I'll just keep giving them away! And, in case you haven't noticed, I am also having a sale on all my digital downloads through Monday! Don't miss out on our big Cyber Monday extravaganza on TeachersPayTeachers! Use code CMS28 on Monday to get an additional 10% discount. (But you can get 15% off right now in my store!)

They were fun to make and you, too, can make them. Just follow Sara Gundell's instructions (on The Hunger Games Examiner). The only difference in mine is that I used a circular paper punch for most of them.

Then, I decided to get a little fancier. Using my own instructions for making charms, I pasted the paper cut outs to plastic blanks. I used jewelry chain and jump rings to make the loop for hanging on the tree (or wherever you wish to hang it). I plan to give these away as gifts to friends and I'll also include one with any purchase of my 3-CD Hunger Games Trilogy teaching units pack. Some of the fancy ones (pictured below) are missing their chain because I haven't completed those yet. I also haven't decided whether to use chain or ribbon on some of them. I'm not sure which I like better. What do you think?

You can have one of these with any purchase of my Hunger Games Trilogy 3-CD pack!

I just had to!

Sorry, Gale fans, but I didn't make any of him. My loyalty lies with Peeta. ;)
Have you made any Hunger Games ornaments? 
If so, add a link below to your pictures! I'd love to see them!


Things That Make Me Go Hmmm... District 12 Traditions & Giving Thanks

Entering the holiday season makes me wonder what kind of holidays or traditions Katniss and Peeta would celebrate in Panem. Would each district have their own distinct holidays? Would there be any holidays celebrated in Panem? What kind of traditions would Katniss and Peeta start after the rebellion?

As we know, the annual Hunger Games is probably the biggest "tradition" for the Capitol citizens, and we sense that the mood in the Capitol is festive and holiday-like during the pre- and post-Games celebrations.

But it's not until we read Catching Fire that learn more in-depth of the traditions that might be specific to the districts or just District 12.

Some examples include (SPOILER ALERT):

District Holiday: A celebration in honor of the winning tribute. "A holiday for the whole district with free food and entertainers brought in from the Capitol" (p. 25 in Catching Fire*). Unfortunately for District 12, they only celebrated this holiday three times in 75 years.
Parcel Day: Once a month, the district of the winning tribute is rewarded with "food packages...delivered to every person in the district" (p. 25). Again, this day was rare in District 12.

The Victory Tour: An annual celebration in each district."Strategically placed almost midway between the annual Games, it is the Capitol's way of keeping the horror fresh and immediate. Not only are we in the districts forced to remember the iron grip of the Capitol's power each year, we are forced to celebrate it" (p. 4). We are to assume the Tour is about five or six months after the Games; the celebration in district 12 will fall during their Harvest Festival, which is always held on the last day of the Tour.

Harvest Festival (District 12): "We always celebrate the Harvest Festival on the final day of the Victory Tour, but usually it means a meal at home or with a few friends if you can afford it" (p. 86). The Harvest Festival sounds very similar to the American Thanksgiving and other harvest festivals from around the world. The time frame would be correct, as well, as it seems to occur in November. Even the decor is reminiscent of our own holiday celebration as houses are adorned with "bunches of brightly colored corn affixed to the front doors as decoration for the upcoming Harvest Festival" (p. 13).

Marriage Toasting (District 12): An informal ceremony for newlyweds in district 12. "...there's always a traditional song we sing as the new couple crosses the threshold of their home. And we have our own little ceremony, where they make their first fire, toast a bit of bread, and share it. Maybe it's old-fashioned, but no one really feels married in District 12 until after the toasting" (p. 249).

The Reading of the Card: Every 25 years, the Capitol requires all citizens of Panem to view the reading of the rules for the Quarter Quell (the 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversary celebrations of the Hunger Games). This occurs in late winter, just before the beginning of Spring.

The Reaping: An annual event held in all the districts to select one male and one female tribute for the annual Hunger Games, with the exception of Quarter Quell years when the reaping selection is altered for a new rule change. This is a one-day event and the start time for each district is staggered so viewers in the Capitol can watch all 12 of the district reaping ceremonies.

Hunger Games: The yearly televised competition of 24 youths (except in Quarter Quell years, when the participants may vary because of special rule changes) to fight to the death, with the winning tribute becoming the Victor. The Victor is awarded a new home in Victor's Village, money for food, assigned (or selects) a hobby in place of working the traditional district industry, and their district is awarded free food 12 times throughout the year on Parcel Day.

Quarter Quell: The 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversary Hunger Games. These Games are held every 25 years, calling "for a  glorified version of the Games to make fresh the memory of those killed by the districts' rebellion" (p. 171).

Opening Ceremony: Following the Reaping, the Opening Ceremony occurs the first night the tributes are in the Capitol. They will kick off the tributes' training and interviews before they enter into the arena for the annual Hunger Games.

Tribute Interviews: Caesar Flickerman interviews each tribute on the eve of the Hunger Games each year. He also conducts an interview of the Victor on their last night in the Capitol before returning home after the Games.

I imagine after the most recent rebellion, the only two events that would still be celebrated would be the Marriage Toasting and perhaps the Harvest Festival 

What do you think? 
• Would the citizens still celebrate the Harvest Festival? 
• What other holidays might they celebrate? 
• Would they mark the anniversary of the end of the war? 
• How would they celebrate such an event?
Feel free to post your answers/comment below. 

Also, you can comment on my post from last November, asking what Katniss and Peeta would be thankful for if they did celebrate Thanksgiving.

I believe they would have a lot to be thankful for, especially after what they have gone through. 
And I'd like to take a moment to thank Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games Trilogy for giving us such a rich series, filled with so many topics, themes, conversation points, and lessons to be learned. Without you, Ms. Collins, this blog would not be possible. You have touched so many people around the world, and brought so many together through your literature. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

*All references to Catching Fire refer to the following edition: Catching Fire By Suzanne Collins - Scholastic Press (2009) - Hardback - 391 pages - ISBN 0439023491


The Hunger Games Movie Trailer Teaching Moment

Screenshot of the Capitol, courtesy of Hunger Games Down With The Capitol

I couldn't resist sharing "The Hunger Games" movie trailer with my students. It was exciting seeing their reactions, sharing in their excitement. Watching movie trailers of your favorite novels can be perfect opportunities for reinforcing the skills your students are already practicing. While they are not quite like comparing the novel to the full-length movie, they can offer shorter opportunities for analysis and comparisons to the text.

To compare the Hunger Games movie trailer to the novel, you can utilize the still shots posted on Down With the Capitol.
Questions that you can present to your students may include:

1. How do the images on the screen compare to your own interpretation of the following places:
  A. District 12
  B. the woods outside District 12
  C. the Capitol
  D. the arena
  the following events:
  A. the Reaping
  B. the Opening Ceremony
  C. training in the Training Center
  D. the Tribute interviews
  the following characters:
  A. Katniss
  B. Gale
  C. Primrose
  D. Peeta
  E. Effie
  F. Cinna
  G. Haymitch
  H. President Snow
  I. Caesar Flickerman
2. What differences do you notice between the novel and the trailer?

3. Why do you think these changes were made?

4. How does the dialogue between characters in the trailer differ from the dialogue in the novel? Which quotes are the same?

5. Which scenes were you hoping to see in the trailer but didn't?

6. Why do you think they were omitted?

7. Which scenes were you pleasantly pleased to see included in the trailer?

8. Do you think the author would be pleased with what she sees on the screen? Why or why not?

9. Does the trailer make you want to see the movie? Why or why not?

You can discuss these questions with your students or have them write their answers. You could even offer it up as an expository writing exercise. If you do a unit on propaganda, critique Lionsgate® on the effectiveness of its advertising and marketing strategies for the movie.

  *You can download a handout to use with ANY novel/movie now! 
Download {HERE}*

Did you show your class the trailer? What was their response?
If you have additional ideas, feel free to share below!


Hunger Games Movie Trailer is Amaaaazing!

So my morning classes and I watched the Good Morning America broadcast of The Hunger Games movie trailer (along with Josh Hutcherson's interview about playing Peeta), and the consensus is two very big thumbs up.

There's so much to talk about, but since I am still at school and need to get some other work done, I promise to write more later. I wanted to let you know you can watch the trailer {HERE} on iTunes and make sure to tune in tonight to The Hunger Games Fireside Chat to talk about the trailer. I am sure the #HeadForTheSquare hashtag will be brought up, as well.

Update (Or, My After-School Comments):
So, there's a few things we discussed in my classes that I thought I would share with you. Feel free to comment below to anything you'd like to share, as well. I've also embedded the trailer, below, for your convenience!

I think everyone agreed that the trailer is amazing and gave viewers even more than we expected. Here are some "critiques" of specifics, but please keep in mind that this is not criticizing the trailer in any way,  just questions/observances that were brought up as we watched it:

1. The district 12 fence:  We pictured it as chain-link electrified fence with barbed wire looped on the top (like you see around prisons). It didn't give the feel of Katniss "sneaking" out to go hunt. Perhaps the imagery of how she had to climb a tree in Catching Fire to get over it is the reason I thought it would be much taller! (And did she already have her weapon when she left the district? She always kept her father's bows/arrows hidden in a hollow tree in the woods.)

2. The hovercraft: Holy smokes! That thing was more massive and military-like than we imagined. But amazing! We also thought it would be quieter. More like a flying saucer. And weren't they hidden in a rocky ledge when they see the Avox girl? Maybe this is a different moment in the movie?

3. Prim crying: It makes sense to have this in the movie. We know Katniss worries inside about her sister, but never really see Prim getting emotional before the Reaping.

4. Reaping: My students did not like Effie's look. They pictured her younger. I actually thought it was a great look. I just imagined her hair pinker. I do love her accent - that is exactly how I imagined her to sound (though I've never pronounced Peeta's last name Ma-lark).

5. Prim's Reaping Slip: Computer printed with her name, rather than handwritten. But what is with the black tag on it? Does that mean that it was rigged? Oh wait...looks like they all have them now that I saw a slow-mo on Tumblr. OK, I take that back!

6. When Katniss volunteers: Oh my...total chills and even choked me up some the first time I saw it. I know I will get emotional at this part in the movie.

7. Peeta: Oh, sweet, sweet Peeta! Love Josh in these scenes. Love Josh as Peeta, period! He truly is perfect!

8. The Capitol: Much darker than I imagined. I thought it would be brighter, more colorful. But I do like this look - goes more with the futuristic dystopian theme.

9. Lenny is awesome! We love Lenny as Cinna.

10. Caesar Flickerman: My students were shocked - they said, "We thought Caesar was old!" But, in the Capitol, you can look ageless, right!? I think Stanley Tucci will be unbelievable in this role. That hair was unexpected! And so, so perfect! ("Why isn't she wearing a jeweled dress? The dress should be jeweled!!" this was heard in each class period. I agree, but...still love!)

11. President Snow: Much bushier beard than I thought he'd have. Thought he would have it more well kept, trimmed. But still love Donald Sutherland in this role!

12. Training center: Why did I always picture this as an actual old-school gymnasium? This training center is so cool! And those stunts. Wow. Just, wow...

13. Where's Haymitch?? Oh, there he is. The 1.2 seconds we get to see him. Really!? Really!? That's all!? We want more Haymitch! We also wonder if he'll fall off the stage at the Reaping and if he'll punch Peeta and Katniss almost stabs his hand on the train. Love those parts!

14. Private session: We truly hope she shoots the apple out of the pig's mouth. We get that glimpse of where the Gamemakers are hanging out, and it will just be perfect!

15. Rue peeking around the corner: Sigh... She looks so sweet and innocent. So sad...

16. Seneca Crane's Beard: This is one of the highlights, or perhaps unexpected bonus, of the trailer (and film): seeing Seneca Crane as Head Gamemaker with that funky Capitol-looking beard. So outrageous, so fitting! The sophomore boys were especially admiring it. Could it be a new trend? What do you think? lol

17. Silent Salute (this is probably out of order): This part gave me complete chills. I love that scene. Katniss must give the district 12 citizens this when she is in the arena?? I do hope the citizens still give it to her at the Reaping, though. And this is nit-picky, but it was the left hand they used in the gesture, not the right. But, it's all good.

18. Katniss going up the tube into the arena: My heart was pounding watching. Breathtaking.

19. Countdown: Does the countdown begin when she is below, or will it begin above ground like in the book? And will it just be 10 seconds or 60? (Sixty is probably too long for a movie, so 10 will probably do.)

20. Where's the Cornucopia? We were hoping to see this 20ft. golden horn.

21. Why are the tributes so close together? We imagined them further apart. This makes it even more...disturbing, almost. How do you get out of that? I guess that's why 11 died in the bloodbath.

22. Not an Orange Backpack: Hmmm....I am sure this will come up in tonight's Fireside Chat!!

23. Wow, Peeta is FAST!

24. What...you can't stop THERE!! Noooooooo...keep going!!! Oh man, we have to wait until March!!??

I am sure there is so much more I am missing here. Which is why I will be tuning in to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat tonight! There's always great conversation and people bring up all those little details the rest of us miss. Make sure you listen at 10 p.m. EST and chat along with us on Twitter using the hashtag #HGFiresideChat.


Things That Make Me Go Hmmm... The "What Ifs"

What if the symbol of the rebellion was an Angry Bird instead of the Mockingjay? 

Yes, this is a silly question, but sometimes those silly questions lead to deep and meaningful debates. I like to ask "What if" questions during class discussions to get my students' creative juices flowing (and engage in some critical thinking, but they don't need to know that's what they're doing).

So for this third installment of "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...," I've decided to share some of the "what ifs" we discussed in class recently about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and see if they have you Hmmm?ing, as well. Feel free to share these with your students for discussions or as journal prompts (warning - some spoilers ahead):

• What if Katniss's dad hadn't died? How would Katniss be different? Would she still be as protective of Prim?

•  What if Katniss's mother hadn't become depressed and was able to take care of her family? Would Peeta have found another way to connect with Katniss (since the bread incident would never have happened)?

• What if Katniss didn't volunteer for Prim? Or if Prim refused to let her volunteer? Would Prim be strong enough to survive the Games? Who would her allies be? Would Peeta die for her?

• What if Gale was chosen as the male tribute instead of Peeta? 

• What if Haymitch didn't drink? Would he have a different strategy for Katniss and Peeta? Would they have more sponsors?
• What if Effie wasn't so annoying? What if she was more like Cinna?

• What if they had to walk to the Capitol? How long would it take to get from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rockies? (Forrest Gump might know...)

• What if Cinna wasn't Katniss's stylist? What would her slogan be?

• What if Madge gave Katniss an Angry Bird pin instead of a Mockingjay pin? Would Rue still want to be Katniss's ally?

• What if District 13 wasn't blown off the map by the Capitol but abducted by aliens instead? What if it was just a massive government cover-up? Would life be better for the District 13 citizens in space or on another planet?  

• What if the citizens of District 12 gave Katniss chocolate cookies instead of the silent salute? (That's from my student Brody.)

• What if Katniss had full water bottles in her orange backpack? Would she have played the Game more offensively?

• What if Rue hadn’t warned Katniss about the tracker jacker nest? What would have happened that morning?

• What if Katniss had given Rue her knife when they split up? Would she have been able to cut herself out of the net and get away from Marvel?

• What if Rue lived and they announced that two tributes could win if they were from the same district; would Rue and Katniss break their alliance? Would Katniss still seek out Peeta? Would the four of them take on the Careers and Foxface? 

• What if the final three tributes alive were Katniss, Peeta, and Rue? Would any of them be able to kill each other? (This question courtesy of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat.)

• What if the arena really was a big cake with frosting?

You can have your students come up with their own "What if..." questions. Have them write them down on a little square of scratch paper and put them in a bowl (or old coffee grounds container; old OxyClean containers also work well) and have other students draw a question from the container to discuss or write about.

And to make your job easier, I've already copied these down (with additional questions) and placed them in a table that can be copied and cut into squares for students to draw. And there's some blank ones so they can make up their own "What if..." questions. Enjoy!

Hunger Games Lessons is not affiliated or associated with author Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Books/Scholastic, Inc., The Hunger Games trilogy, Lionsgate® Movies, Angry Birds, or any of the aforementioned’s affiliates.

Hunger Games Full-Length Trailer to Debut on Good Morning America Monday

So I really won't need to buy tickets to Breaking Dawn now. Good Morning America (GMA) will be debuting the full-length trailer Monday (Nov. 14) morning. To find out more about the trailer and other great Hunger Games news, check in with the ever-awesome fansite The Hunger Games Down With the Capitol to stay in-the-know!


The Hunger Games Full Length Trailer: One Reason to See Breaking Dawn Movie

Photo courtesy of Hunger Games Philippines Tumblr

So, even though I did love reading the Twilight Saga novels, I have to admit that I have NOT been a fan of the movies at all. The acting has completely turned me off and after having to see Twilight right away in the theater, I waited until New Moon and Eclipse were out on DVD before seeing.

But...with the news that The Hunger Games full-length trailer WILL debut with the Breaking Dawn, part 1, movie, well, I think I might just have to suck it up and go see it.

What do you think? Would you go to a movie just to see a trailer? Kind of crazy, huh? But, it's The Hunger Games, so it's all good...


The Hunger Games Teaching Unit Updates

Do you teach The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins? If so, you'll want to check out my newly-updated teaching unit!

My best-selling Hunger Games Teaching Unit digital download now includes the following files:
• Common Core Standards chart with alignment to my lessons
• Added even more to my discussion questions
• Updated my Settings, Theme, Symbolism, and Map of Panem file to include new information provided by TheCapitol.pn
• Included a separate Teacher's Guide to the Setting file
• New organization/structure and pages added to the Student Survival Pack
• Newly updated Teacher's Guide to the Student Survival Pack
• Included a sneak peek at some of my new Katniss Character Analysis handouts
• Added the Additional Symbolism file

Those who order the CD will automatically have these updates. Those who purchased my digital unit will want to re-download the file (free) by logging on to their TpT purchases page and reactivating the file. Then you have 24 hours to download it again.

I have appreciated everyone's feedback on my unit; your suggestions have helped me make some great improvements and I love hearing of your success stories! Remember to send me any links to stories, pictures, or websites that show your students/class/school (or student work) so I can showcase them on my page. :)

Thanks so much for your continued support of your fellow teachers on TeachersPayTeachers.com! It's such a wonderful way to help one another in a profession that gets more demanding each year.


Things That Make Me Go Hmmm... The Feast Backpacks

This post does contain spoilers to the later chapters of the novel, so please wait to read if you haven't finished through chapter 25.
For the second installment of "Things that make me go hmmm..." I wanted to bring up the feast at the Cornucopia in chapter 21 of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

In that chapter, Katniss goes to the feast to get the small pack that contains the life-saving medicine for Peeta. She sees the two large black packs, medium-sized green pack, and the one meant for her. We later learn in chapter 25 that the District 2 pack probably contained body armor to protect from Katniss' arrows (and other weapons). Although, since Thresh took both packs, it could have been in either one. And we already know what was inside the tiny District 12 pack. So, what did Foxface's (District 5) and Thresh's (District 11) contain?

We know that Thresh's was a large one just like the District 2's. Did it also contain body armor to protect Thresh from Cato and Clove's knives and swords (Clove was still alive when the packs appeared near the Cornucopia)? He didn't need food (Katniss remarks he looked better fed than when the Games started) and he wasn't injured.
Katniss also comments that perhaps one of the tributes needs a blanket. Did Thresh's contain a blanket, or was that what Foxface's contained? When Foxface dies, her body was so thin, so that could be an indication that she didn't get food in her pack. But, it also indicates that it might be the one thing she needed the most. But if it was, then why was she stealing food from Peeta? 
We never learn what those two packs contained, so I asked my students what they thought. There's no wrong answers, of course. (Unless we find out in the movie what they contain, but that's not until March.) So here are some of their replies:

Thresh's District 11 Pack: battle armor just like Cato's, a weapon to protect himself from Cato, food, a battle ax, vanishing cream so no one could find him (it obviously didn't work), something to keep him warm, a tent, more rocks (his favorite weapon), a weapon and armor (because he killed Clove with a rock, he obviously didn't have one or get one at the Cornucopia), and my favorite answer: his pack had the armor and Cato's had food because he and Clove probably didn't know how to feed themselves (then Cato stole the pack of armor after he killed Thresh).

Foxface's District 5 Pack: a new pair of light sneakers so she can continue to sneak around unheard, sleeping bag to keep warm, a weapon to defend herself, night-vision glasses so she could steal food at night, "slippers of silence," food, and my favorite answer: a heat-reflecting sleeping bag and warm gloves and hat to keep from dying from hypothermia.

So what do YOU think was in the other packs at the feast? 

Take it one step further: why do you think the two larger packs are black, the medium green, and the smallest orange? Is there any significance to the colors of the packs? Why not have them all the same color since they are already labeled with their district numbers? Certainly the Capitol would be able to find packs all the same color, right? What do you think?


Hunger Games Classroom Training Games, vol. 2

Hunger Games Mock Reaping Classroom Games
Camouflaging the orange backpack...

If you head over to the Hunger Games Lessons Facebook page, you can see the photos I uploaded of our classroom training Games. These were the training challenges the Gamemakers came up with to assess each Tribute and rank them from the 1-12 scale like the real Tributes from the novel are ranked.

Each Tribute had three activities in which they were assessed. My first period Gamemakers came up with target shooting (Nerf gun), agility (obstacle course with a sword-fighting challenge thrown in at the end), and speed (running a 40-yard sprint). Second period Gamemakers had target shooting, camouflage (camouflaging the orange backpack!), and agility by dodging fireballs (nerf-like balls). And my sixth period Gamemakers came up with speed (running a down & back for a total of about 50 yards), knot tying, and camouflage.
Hunger Games Lessons: The Hunger Games Mock Reaping Classroom Games www.hungergameslessons.com
Tributes could use anything in nature to help camouflage their "backpack."
For the final Games, they'll be playing Gamemaker-selected Wii games in which they can compete against one another (without actually causing anyone physical harm). We'll set up the "arena" in the library where they have a lot of room to compete. I am sure after all the Tributes are done the Mentors/Escorts, Stylists, and Gamemakers will want to have their own challenge. Maybe President Snow will even make an appearance for a little Wii boxing!? We'll see...

Hunger Games Lessons: The Hunger Games Mock Reaping Classroom Games www.hungergameslessons.com
Dodging fireballs...
This is the second year we've had the class "Games," and the students have enjoyed it so far. It's a great way to get them physically involved and collaborate with a "team" (each district & the Gamemakers comprised teams of 4 students each). Plus, I happen to love letting them be creative, so this is one of the many ways they can express it in class.

Sponsor a Tribute Example for The Hunger Games Class Mock Reaping & Training
Mentors made propaganda posters for their Tributes. Later, sponsors will have the chance to place bets or sponsor the Tributes of their choice. To earn $$$, citizens must excel at various evil things like tests, reviews, and other assessments President Snow has decided for them. They'll also earn Panem cash just for being citizens, of course. And citizens from other sectors of Panem (aka the rest of the school community) will have the option of sponsoring a tribute, as well.

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