Of Mice and Men - Ranch Life

Download "Ranch Life" as a Word file (71KB)

Discipline

Language Arts, History, Art

Grade Level 

7-12

Type of Activity 

Small Group, Individual, Entire Class, Pre-Reading, Research, Writing, Art, Performing Arts

Objectives

  • Students will understand the nature of ranch life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • Students will gain an understanding of migrant ranch life at the turn of the century vs. current migrant ranch life.
  • Students will be able to analyze and understand (through discussion and writing) secondary documents.

Overview

As in all of Steinbeck’s books, setting is very important and always plays an integral role in the understanding of his novels, and Of Mice and Men is no exception. The ranch in Of Mice and Men is important and functions almost as a character would.

Understanding ranch life at the turn of the century and the migrant ranch experience from that period, and today, are both essential for understanding the novel. This topic should be not only informative but entertaining for the students.

Materials Needed/Preparation

Estimated Time

  • 2 periods to discuss the articles in “Materials Needed/Preparation.” Teachers should assign the articles below and the above Internet articles (one about migrant ranches at the turn of the century and two about current migrant farm life). 
  • 1-2 class periods for skit preparation and presentation. (See “Procedures” below.)
  • 1 class period for the creation of posters.

Procedures

  • Discussion starter/journal entry:
    • What do you think life was like on a ranch around the year 1900?
    • How do you think life on a ranch around the year 1900 was different from your life? From life on a farm or ranch today?
  • Before reading Of Mice and Men, students should understand the context of life on a rural ranch in the 1890s and early 1900s. Setting is important in all of Steinbeck’s books, and students should break into small groups to write a brief skit (dressing up in costume if they wish) of what they think life on a rural ranch in Salinas Valley at the turn of the century was like. Be sure they have no preconceived notions of what ranch life would be like. This should lead to a class discussion.
  • Have student groups write a brief skit about ranch life at the turn of the century and then perform for the class.
  • Have students read the following two articles. Even though they are taken from the Steinbeck Young Authors’ Curriculum Guide—The Red Pony, they also apply to life on a ranch in Of Mice and Men. The reading can be done entirely in class, or partially, and then finished as homework.
  • Have students complete the worksheet (found after the two articles) as homework and discuss in class the next day.
  • Have students read the three Internet articles—see “Materials Needed/Preparation.”
  • Have the students discuss the differences between migrant ranch workers at the turn of the century and today’s migrant ranch workers.
  • Have students write a short paper comparing/contrasting the Internet articles (see Short Writing Prompts).
  • In small groups, have students create posters detailing the benefits of late nineteenth/early twentieth century migrant ranches and current ones.

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up

  • Post Activity
    • Have student groups hang their posters around the classroom and answer questions of other groups.
  • Follow-up
    • Have students write an evaluation of the project and what they have learned.
    • In groups, have students summarize ranch life in the 1920s/1930s and now. Other students will take notes.

Assessment

Teachers can give brief quizzes on ranch life to ensure students have a basic understanding of the ranch setting in Of Mice and Men and in more current times.

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
    • Craft and Structure: 4, 5, 6
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity: 10
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2, 3
    • Craft and Structure:  4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:  8, 9
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:  10
  • Writing Standards 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes: 1, 2, 3
    • Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge:  7, 8
    • Range of Writing:  10
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
    • Comprehension and Collaboration:  1, 2
  • Language Standards 6-12
    • Conventions of Standard English: 1, 2
    • Knowledge of Language: 3
    • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
    • Key Ideas and Details: 1, 2
    • Craft and Structure:  4, 5, 6
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:  8
    • Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:  10
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
    • Text Types and Purposes:  1, 2
    • Production and Distribution of Writing:  4, 5
    • Research to Build and Present Knowledge:  7, 9
    • Range of Writing:  10