Mother's Day in Panem?

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How would the characters in The Hunger Games trilogy celebrate Mother's Day?

When you think about it, not many of the characters have great relationships with their mothers. As Mother's Day nears, this is a good time to talk about those strained relationships because chances are we have students who may not have the greatest relationships with a parent, as well. Because of that, it's also important to discuss what the characters could do to help patch their relationships.

Does this seem silly? Many teens may not want to discuss their own personal feelings, but they will talk about a fictional character's feelings. And perhaps it will help them deal better with what's going on in their lives knowing that others may be experiencing the same thing.

Using the handout, found here, have students work in small groups to discuss (and/or record) the relationships each character has with her/his mother. Have them describe the relationship, then use evidence from the text to support those claims. Working together, students should be able to find particular passages that show or infer the type of relationship.

Finally, have them brainstorm ways that character could initiate a reconciliation with their mother. In Catching Fire and Mockingjay, a further discussion of mental illness would be appropriate. Start with asking students how people today cope with mental illness and the services that are available. Then have students think of what services the characters have available to them and what they could do to get help. It's important for students to realize that it is an illness--just like Katniss doesn't understand why her mother mentally abandoned her, students may be feeling the same about a loved one. If they can get past the bitterness they feel toward that person and see that their loved one can not help the way they act, perhaps they can begin to come to terms with it.

Students can also discuss abusive relationships and what options the character(s) have to get away from the abuse. Many of the services we have today are probably not available to the citizens of Panem (it is mentioned that physical abuse is present at the group/community home in District 12, which would be an even worse alternative). What options do they have in Panem? Start with the options available to children today and see if any of those would apply or work for the character(s). 

Though these are heavy topics, hopefully students will appreciate the relationships they have with their mothers, or if they need help, they will seek it.

Download the FREE packet: Hunger Games Mother's Day Writing & Discussion Prompts


Which Poems Would Katniss and Peeta Carry for Poem in Your Pocket Day?

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A "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm..." Post

Update: National Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 18th for 2013. This original post was written in 2012.

April 26th is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. To celebrate poetry and spread literacy, every one is encouraged to carry their favorite poem with them tomorrow. So, of course, this got me to thinking...which poems would the characters of The Hunger Games carry?

I've decided that Peeta would carry one of my favorite ee cummings poems: [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
To me it fits him (and his feelings for Katniss) perfectly. He would do anything for her and even professes in Catching Fire that his nightmares are about losing her. I think you can look at the line "here is the deepest secret nobody knows" two different ways: that the secret is that the speaker carries the heart in his heart or that the secret is something that keeps them apart. Either translation works for Peeta: his love is a secret until revealed. And there are a number of things throughout the trilogy that keeps them apart, making the second translation of that line work.

What do you think about this poem for Peeta?

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                 i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Poem source: Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179622

Now on to Katniss...she is much harder to pinpoint. She has such a defensive nature and does not like to express her emotions. She feels bitter toward her mother and misses her father profusely. She's not the sappy type, so I chose a very somber poem titled "Eulogy" by Kevin Young. Why this poem? First, it reminded me of [spoiler alert!] Katniss in her old training room in Mockingjay while her trial is going on. I think she would express these words after she kills herself by starvation. And yet, she fails to allow the darkness to swallow her. She turns inward, just like her mother as we learned in the beginning of The Hunger Games, and the circle has come full. Just as the circle of life closes around us all.

I think "Eulogy" is perfect in its seeming simplicity (I love shorter poems that have these hidden layers of complexity). I could imagine Katniss not wanting people to mourn too long over her death. And I thought literally of the lightness of her casket--in her emaciated state. But, there's so much more than literal translation in those lines. Has the weight of the nation been lifted finally? Is that why she wouldn't want them to startle? OK...I know I'm getting too deep here because obviously Mr. Young did not write this about Katniss. But this is what I love about poetry: we can all find connections to these beautiful words. And at different points in our lives, we'll find different meanings, even in our old favorites.

by Kevin Young

To allow silence
To admit it in us

always moving
Just past

senses, the darkness
What swallows us

and we live amongst
What lives amongst us


These grim anchors
That brief sanctity

the sea
Cast quite far

when you seek
—in your hats black

and kerchiefs—
to bury me


Do not weep
but once, and a long

time then
Thereafter eat till

your stomach spills over
No more! you'll cry

too full for your eyes
to leak


The words will wait


Place me in a plain
pine box I have been

for years building
It is splinters

not silver
It is filled of hair


Even the tongues
of bells shall still


You who will bear
my body along

Spirit me into the six
Do not startle

at its lack of weight
How light

Poem source: Poets.org http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/22169
Kevin Young's official website:  http://www.kevinyoungpoetry.com/


Have your students discuss which poems they think the characters would carry in their pocket and why. This can be done for any piece of literature.

Why is this a great activity? First, they have to read a lot of poems. Second, they have to be familiar with the literature to make a connection. Third, it allows them to be creative. And fourth, there are no wrong answers.

Enjoy Poem in Your Pocket Day; and enjoy poetry EVERY DAY! :)


Pinterest Makes Possible a Potpourri of Resources & Examples for Teachers

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Last summer my good friend Amy from Science Stuff introduced me to Pinterest. At first, I didn't really understand why people were making a big deal over it. Now, I'm hooked. It's one of the first places I go to find visual examples for class. In addition, teachers are using it to share their resources and materials with one another. You can find tons of freebies, tips, helpful websites, and student/classroom examples.

Hunger Games Related Boards

Check out fellow Hunger Games teacher Carla's Pinterest board of student projects here: The Hunger Games
Didn't her students do a fabulous job? The arena replicas are amazing. I love the attention to detail.

As I previously pointed out, you can find my Pinterest board for freebies here (and by clicking the button to the right): Hunger Games Freebies

I also have a board with links to any website or activity that I think would be helpful when teaching The Hunger Games. Some of the items are priced and some are just great websites you may find helpful: Teaching The Hunger Games

Classroom Pics is self-explanatory; you'll find my students' work and displays from my classroom.

Bookish News & Fun isn't solely related to The Hunger Games, but it's a great collaborative board started by Penelope from The Reading Fever. You'll find some great book-related sites and examples.

Do you have a Hunger Games-related board you'd like to share? If so, post it in the comments below.

Collaborative Teaching Boards

If you are looking exclusively for resources for high school, check out High School Herd, which is a collaborative board created by Charity Preston of the Organized Classroom Blog. You'll find all subjects here.

Middle School Maestros is the middle-school collaborative board for resources in the middle/intermediate grades.

For language arts exclusive lessons/activities from TeachersPayTeachers, check out Victoria Leon's (from The Best of TeachersPayTeachers) collaborative board: TpT Language Arts

For FREE lessons from TeachersPayTeachers, here's the collaborative freebie board, also started by Victoria: TPT FREE Lessons

Victoria started the collaborative blogs for every subject area. You can find them all here: The Best of TpT

Pinterest is also great to get some creative ideas, like Picture Writing Prompts. Use these prompts for journaling and creative, persuasive, expository, and narrative writing practice.

The Creative Classroom by Teachers is pinned by teachers who love to inspire creativity in others.

Do you belong to any collaborative Hunger Games-, teaching-, book-, or education-related boards? If so, post a link in the comments below.


Comparing "The Hunger Games" to Boccioni's "States of Mind" Art Series

Classroom Connections: Comparing The Hunger Games trilogy to Boccioni's "States of Mind" Art Series on www.hungergameslessons.com

After I read The Hunger Games, I was thinking of artwork that would connect with and depict some of the images and feelings portrayed in Suzanne Collins’ novel. I like to incorporate artwork into lessons when I can; so much of the humanities is related, yet we teach our subjects separately so students often don't see these connections between history, art, music, and literature.

Classroom Connections: Comparing The Hunger Games trilogy to Boccioni's "States of Mind" Art Series on www.hungergameslessons.com
"The Farewells" by Boccioni; Photo courtesy of http://www.quailhollow365.com/
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One artist who always stood out for me was Umberto Boccioni, part of the Futurist art movement of the early 20th century. I used to teach art history as a nine-week course for freshmen; I would show them Boccioni’s sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913). After a brief discussion, we moved on to Picasso and the Cubists, so we never got to explore Boccioni’s paintings.

Looking at his States of Mind series, I cannot help but think of Katniss and Peeta’s trip to the Capitol and how it affected not only them, but those who were left behind. Even the title of the series conveys differing emotions and "states of mind."

Umberto Boccioni’s States of Mind series (1911) begins with “The Farewells” depicting subjects boarding a train--which in Boccioni’s time was modern transportation. For Katniss and Peeta, the train ride is also a new experience for them.
Classroom Connections: Comparing The Hunger Games trilogy to Boccioni's "States of Mind" Art Series on www.hungergameslessons.com
"Those Who Go" by Boccioni (1911); courtesy of http://www.quailhollow365.com/
The second piece is “Those Who Go.” The colors turn darker, the faces more sinister. I can’t help but think of the paradox that is the Capitol: a world of modern technology and seemingly perfect life, but also a place where these Tributes spend their last days, rather than with their families.

Classroom Connections: Comparing The Hunger Games trilogy to Boccioni's "States of Mind" Art Series on www.hungergameslessons.com
"Those Who Stay" by Boccioni (1911); courtesy of http://www.quailhollow365.com/
“Those Who Stay” is the darkest of the series, showing muted colors with vertical lines. It conveys a depressed feeling. I am sure many of the families of the Tributes feel depressed after their children have left for the Games.

In context, Boccioni might be making a statement about World War I and those who go to fight the war and never return home, much like the Tributes.

Do you see a connection between Boccioni's art and The Hunger Games? What other artworks relate to the series?
I do remember Adam Spunberg mentioning Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights as a connection on one of The Hunger Games Fireside Chat episodes.  That's another piece of work that we covered in my Humanities class that would definitely lend itself to comparison--not to mention some interesting class discussions.

Classroom Connection:
• Ask your students how the Tributes compare to soldiers leaving home for war.
• Have your students find other pieces of artwork to connect to the literature you are reading. 
• Download my resource for handouts and additional creative activities using artwork and poetry:

Helpful Resources:


Celebrate Poetry Hunger Games Style!

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I started working on a Hunger Games-themed poetry freebie and figured I would finish it over spring break. Oops... Since this is already April 12, I thought I better post some of the pages I HAVE completed so you can use them during poetry month! Of course, you can (and should) incorporate creative writing exercises any time throughout the year. It allows your students to think freely and differently than they normally do.

UPDATED: I completed the packet! You can download it here free:
The Hunger Games Creative Writing Exercises

Here's some Acrostic poetry-writing exercises you can use with your students. The first letter of each line will begin with a letter in the character's name. The content should relate to the character. Lines can be as simple as one-word, or full sentences, or a mixture of both. The "speaker" of the poem can be the character or written in third person.

Here's an example of one I wrote as if I were Katniss:
Knowing I will most
Assuredly die
Tomorrow, I toss aside the
Notion of hope I've recklessly
Instilled in my
Sister. But hope has a way of
Sneaking back.

Here's a more simple poem for Peeta with adjectives Katniss may use to describe him during the Games:

I have many more pages coming, so stay tuned for additional ones. You can download them {HERE}.


It's Official: Gary Ross Won't Direct "Catching Fire" Movie

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Director Gary Ross
Photo credit: 
Getty Images via www.HungerGamesExaminer.com
According to several fan sites and Entertainment Weekly Online, director Gary Ross won't be signing on for "Catching Fire," the sequel to "The Hunger Games" due to the tight production schedule. "Catching Fire" is set to begin filming this fall and actress Jennifer Lawrence is committed to begin filming on an X-Men sequel in January.

How do you feel about the news? Personally, I think he did a great job and his involvement with casting was wonderful. If they can find someone committed to the books like he was, I'm OK with it. My husband says he hopes the new director won't use the shaky cam effect that was starting to make him a little sick while watching.

Overall, I'm not going to be depressed that he's not coming back. Lionsgate® did a remarkable job with all the other choices, I am sure they will find another person just as good, if not better.


Free Printables for 'The Hunger Games' Movie

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Are you looking for some free resources for teaching The Hunger Games? I added a new button on the right of the page that will link to my Pinterest board of free Hunger Games resources. These are always free to download.

Recently, I created these Hunger Games graphic organizers and worksheets to compare the movie to the novel.  Some, however, do not require viewing of the movie to complete.

You can download each here:
Most Anticipated Scenes from the Novel
The Hunger Games Setting - District 12
The Hunger Games Character Comparison: Peeta Mellark
The Hunger Games Top Scenes Graphic Organizer

For additional activities, you can download the complete 30 pages of activities found here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Hunger-Games-Book-vs-Movie-Activities


More Violence in Coming Attractions Than in The Hunger Games...a "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm" post

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Warning: This post does contain spoilers.

As we waited to see the movie "The Hunger Games" (my second viewing), we were entertained with the customary coming attractions: new movie trailers to temp us back into the theater to see similar shows.

Of those attractions, three stood out: "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter," "G.I. Joe Retaliation," and "Dark Shadows." Not because I particulary enjoyed them. I wouldn't pay money to go see any of those. What struck me was the amount of violent acts shown in just the trailers. (In all fairness, "Dark Shadows" had the least, but the sexual references made up for the lack of them.)

I'm a mom of a 13-year-old boy who went through the Buzz Lightyear, Spiderman, Hulk, Star Wars, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles phases. We had the themed birthday parties, Halloween costumes, and VHS cassettes of the movies and cartoons. I am well aware of the violence shown in those movies and TV shows and had an open dialogue about it with my son while he was growing up. I would say something like, "You know, there's a much better way to solve problems than using violence." Said often enough and modeling it in real life, he got it.

Of course, it didn't stop him from role-playing that he was Spiderman, jumping from building to building and "shooting" the bad guys with his invisible web. When he pointed his "web" fingers at me one time when he was mad, I took away all his toys and grounded him from watching TV. It didn't take him long to realize that there's a difference between "pretend" play and real-life violent gestures.

I am a pacifist. I don't believe in using violence to problem-solve. However, I also understand human nature and the need to use violence for survival. For example, hunting and fishing for food is necessary. And if someone is attacked, obviously self-defense warrants the need to use force for protection.

Playing defense is one thing; it's playing offense--and the reasoning behind it--that I usually question.

That said, I sat there in the theater and wondered why so many people are voicing their concern about the violence in "The Hunger Games" movie, when the message of the book (and movie) is an opposition to violence? There is no glory in the Games. When they are through, you are not cheering for the Victors, you are sobbing for those who died. And for those who had to kill because they will never forget the acts of evil they were forced to commit. The characters are broken, depressed. There is no fanfare except that which is forced upon the Victors and citizens (by the Capitol/President Snow) in the Victory Tour.

Yet, these other movies encourage you to applaud and cheer when they blow up the enemies. That is the wrong message. I didn't hear any outrage or opposition when the "Spiderman," "Batman," "G.I. Joe," "Incredible Hulk," or "Transformers" movies came out. Did you? Were these same people up in arms over those movies that glorify violence?

While watching these coming attractions, I noticed there were more acts of violence in just the trailer from "G.I. Joe" than in the ENTIRE movie "The Hunger Games." Heck, probably more than in the entire book The Hunger Games. And what, exactly, is G.I. Joe's message? Is it one of wanting peace through non-violence? I'm pretty sure it's not.

And yet, that is the message of Suzanne Collins' trilogy.

Katniss chooses NOT to kill Peeta in the end. Peeta chooses NOT to kill Katniss. Both characters chose to act with humanity toward their fellow tributes. Both take a stand against the Capitol, sending the message that this--the Hunger Games--is wrong. Katniss and Peeta are the true role models here.

What do you think?

To read more about my thoughts on the PG-13 rating and message of The Hunger Games, see these posts:
Defense for Teaching The Hunger Games
Connecting The Hunger Games to The Holocaust
Why is the Rating of "The Hunger Games" Movie Questionable?
Photo sources:
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" image courtesy of IGN: Image 3574963

"G.I. Joe Retaliation" image courtesy of bigshinyrobot.com

"Dark Shadows" image courtesy of teenspot.com

Your Catching Fire and Mockingjay Casting Picks?

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Now that "The Hunger Games" movie has brought in enough dough to secure the filming of the sequels, who would you cast in the roles for the "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay" movies?

SPOILERS BELOW!  Yes, even the list of characters can be spoilers. If you haven't read Catching Fire or Mockingjay, STOP reading this and go read the books! ;) OK, you've been warned...

The characters up for grabs include:
Catching Fire
Plutarch Heavensbee
Hazelle Hawthorne
Rory Hawthorne
Vick Hawthorne
Posy Hawthorne
Darius (or Lavinia?? We saw her in "The Hunger Games", but was it her?)
Romulus Thread
Mrs. Undersee - With no Madge, or even Mayor Undersee, will his ill wife make the cut? Doubtful.
Maysilee Donner - Wishful thinking???
Bonnie & Twill
Others: Tax, Purnia, Leevy, Bristel, Thom - seems highly unlikely that these characters will make the cut, either.

Catching Fire Tributes
D1: Cashmere & Gloss
D2: Brutus & Enobaria
D3: Beetee & Wiress
D4: Finnick & Mags (who volunteers for Annie)
D5: Unnamed
D6: Morphlings
D7: Blight & Johanna
D8: Woof & Cecelia
D9: Unnamed
D10: Unnamed
D11: Chaff & Seeder
D12: Well, these are already cast, aren't they!?

Pinned from Savanna-without-an-h: http://snew.tumblr.com/
Alma Coin
Commander Paylor
Castor & Pollux
Jackson, Mitchell, Homes, Leeg 1 & Leeg 2, York
Delly Cartright - since the mention of her was cut, doubtful she'll make it to the movie.
Dr. Aurelius
Others: Dalton, Eddy, Leevy, Thom, Darius, Lavinia (if they don't make the cut to CF, highly unlikely they'll make MJ)

So, who would you pick for each? I am partial to Alec Baldwin for Plutarch, and Savanna from The Hunger Games Fireside Chat had posted (or reblogged?) that Sigourney Weaver would be a perfect Alma Coin. I agree!! Other than those two, I have no other picks. I know, kind of boring, huh!? Help me out by commenting below!
Part of Plutarch Watch 2012 :)


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