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!)
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