I am always in search of the perfect novels to share with my upper elementary students. I find myself scanning book shelves everywhere I go in order to find those “best fit” books that impact how my students read, think, and feel. When I read Wonder by RJ Palacio, so many ideas were bursting out of my head for how I could teach this incredible novel. I created a Wonder novel study unit and the companion activities featured here.
If you haven’t read this incredible story, here is a quick summary…Wonder is about an extraordinary ten-year old boy named Auggie Pullman who was born with a cleft palate and Mandibular dysostosis. Due to the twenty seven surgeries he has been forced to endure, he has been home-schooled by his mother. Auggie and five other narrators share the story of his start of the school year at Beecher Prep and the challenges faced because he doesn’t look “ordinary” like everyone else he encounters. Wonder is a story that encourages readers to consider the interactions and relationships we form in our lives.
Novels that help my students and work to be more empathetic of one another will always be snatched up for my classroom bookshelves. Empathy is a skill that is tricky to teach, but one that is essential to helping a classroom full of adolescents relate more thoughtfully to one another. I need teaching tools that help me communicate the importance of how our words and actions directly impact others, so we need to be thoughtful and considerate of EVERYONE we come into contact with. In addition, we need to realize that we have no idea what experiences another person has had throughout the course of their life, so we need to be understanding of their needs and life experiences.
Wonder is the perfect novel to share with your students, and this is the perfect activity to have students complete at the end of the novel to better understand the thoughts of each narrator and to better understand that there is always more than one side to every story. Within this well-written, attention-holding novel, there are six narrators that share their perspective on their relationship with Auggie and their personal growth throughout the story.
I created this Character Thoughts from Wonder activity to encourage my students to think outside of themselves and reflect on the characters from the story. We can get very self-centered and self-focused, while forgetting about how words and actions can both positively and negatively impact others. We need to be considerate and understanding with one another.
Complete this activity as a whole class, small group, in partners, or independently. You will just need to make copies accordingly.
1. Print out the Character Heads and Thoughts in…Head Cards. Each student will need their own set of Character Heads.
2. Read the Thoughts in… Cards that corresponds to each character.
3. Allow students to use markers, colored pencils, or any writing tool to record their ideas in the designated space.
4. Fill in the thoughts that would be going through each character’s head after reading each Thoughts in…Head Card.
5. Use as few or as many Thoughts in… Head Cards as you choose.
6. Once students have completed the thoughts in each characters’ head, they can cut, staple, and create a flip book.
7. Students can add as little or as much color and detail as the teacher determines. See the sample for ideas.
8. The goal is for students to reflect on how our words and our actions can impact others in relation to this story.
If you are looking for the perfect book to help students work on character analysis and feel empathy toward the characters in this story and one another, grab this Wonder Character Analysis resource by clicking on the image below!
Here are two other resources to help you implement Wonder in your classroom…