The Bears on Hemlock Mountain Novel Study {Homeschool}

One of my plans this year, with Ben (third grade) is to start some simple novel studies.  I can remember doing them as early as 4th grade, and I wanted to start one with him.

We chose The Bears on Hemlock Mountain for our first one.  Bears is below his actual reading level, but because I wanted to focus on the elements of a novel, I did not want to choose something that was also a reading challenge.  He read the book the first day, in about 30 minutes, which was perfect as he was going to need to reread parts for our study.

We looked at several different elements of a novel this time--characters, setting (both place and time), and plot.  Next time, we will add more elements to it.


We started with characters, since the story only has one main character to work with.  Ben and I talked about "known characteristics" and "implied characteristics" to help him understand how we learn about a character.  I explained how the author tells us some things about a character for sure and other things that make us discover who the character is without saying a specific word.

I told him a quick story: Ben is an 8 year old boy.  He has brown hair and brown eyes.  He likes to tell jokes and make people laugh.  Then we made a list.  We know Ben is 8 and has brown hair and eyes.  We think Ben is probably funny because of the jokes and laughing, even though we didn't specifically use the words "Ben is funny."

From there, Ben made a T chart about the character of Jonathan with a column for known characteristics and implied characteristics.


We moved on to setting, and how to discover the wheres and the whens in a book.

This was Ben's favorite part.  For place, he wrote out a short description of the places in the book--Jonathan's house, the mountain, Jonathan's aunt's house.  Then for time, we looked through the book and pictures to see if we could figure out when the story took place. The clothes helped, and then we realized Jonathan's mom did have a phone to call his aunt, so that helped us even more.  Ben finally decided that it had to be during the time of Abraham Lincoln.  I'm not 100% sure how he picked that time period, but it seemed reasonable to me!

After that, he spent some time drawing a map of Jonathan's journey, which is why this was his favorite part.  The map is still hanging on my fridge because I was amazed at the details he put in.


Finally we ended with the plot.  Ben could easily narrate the story back to me, so I wanted to focus on the main points of the story.  I printed this 7 box plot flow chart for him and showed him the best way to figure out the flow (first and last, then second and second last, till we got to the middle).  He was very excited to realize we could summarize the story in just seven boxes as his narration was quite a bit longer.


For this novel, we stopped at this point.  We will likely do at least one more novel with an in-depth look at character, setting and plot, before we move on to other elements of the story.  However, it went really well and we're both excited of the possibilities of novel studies in the future!

Linking up to:
Hip Homeschool Hop Button