Lessons & Units :: Bridge to Terabithia 5th Grade Unit

Lesson 3: Analyzing Relationships

Lesson Plan

Bridge to Terabithia | 810L

Bridge to Terabithia
Learning Goal
Analyze character relationships.
Approximately 2 Days (40-45 minutes for each class)
Necessary Materials
Provided: Relationships Sociogram; Relationship Chart (Save for use with Lesson 5), Relationship Roster (Student Packet, page 18), Friendship Bridge Example (Student Packet, page 19)
Not Provided: Photograph of a friend or family member, chart paper, markers, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • Before the Lesson

    Read Chapters 7-9; Complete Student Packet Worksheets for Chapters 7-9; Bring in a photograph of a friend or family member.

  • Activation & Motivation

    Have students sit in a circle and share the photographs they brought in of a friend or family member. Each student should answer the following questions: Who is this relationship with? How do you both feel about each other? Why do you and this person need each other? Describe the relationship. Is it positive or negative? 

    After each student has had a chance to present his or her photograph, engage the class in a discussion about relationships. What do relationships have in common? How are they different? What purpose do relationships serve in our lives?

  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain that it is important to examine relationships in a work of Realistic Fiction. Relationships in this genre help us understand individual characters more deeply. Examining character relationships is also another way to predict what can happen in the rest of the story. We can also track a relationship and see how the relationship and the characters change in a story.

    On chart paper, I will create a Relationships Sociogram of the relationships in the book. Jess will be in the middle of the sociogram because he is our protagonist. Stemming from Jess, I will create additional circles with other characters whom Jess has a direct relationship. We will create circles for Leslie Burke, May Belle, Mrs. Aarons, Mr. Aarons, Miss Edmunds, Janice Avery, Joyce Ann, and Gary Fulcher. Note: See Relationships Sociogram in this unit for an example.

    Now, I will examine one relationship in the book. I will focus on the relationship between Jess and his father. On my Relationship Chart, I will answer the following questions:

    Who is this relationship between? Jess and his father, Mr. Aarons
    How are the characters alike and different? They both seem to be stubborn and don’t tell each other how they really feel. Jess seems to like creative things, while Mr. Aarons has a set way that he thinks boys should act.

    How do the characters feel about each other? Jess resents that his father does not appreciate his art. He wishes that his dad could spend more time with him. Mr. Aarons does not think it is appropriate for boys to be artists.

    Why do the characters need each other? Jess needs his father to serve as a role model. He also craves the male attention since his father is the only other male in the Aarons' home. Mr. Aarons needs Jess to make him realize that it is OK to express your feelings, whether it be through words or art.

    Describe the relationship. Is it positive or negative? Both? Explain. The relationship is negative because both characters seem dissatisfied with how things are, but do not do anything about it.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How can I draw a conclusion about the relationship between characters in a book?" Students should respond that you can identify who the relationship is between, how the characters feel about each other, how the characters need each other, how the relationship changes over time, and if the relationship is a positive or negative one. By evaluating the features or details of a relationship, readers can connect with characters, understand the plot, and predict what will happen later in the story.

  • Guided Practice

    will continue filling out the Relationships Sociogram to make sure we have all of the characters and relationships within the book. For characters that are connected to one another through another relationship, we will draw a connection in the shape of a bridge between the characters. This bridge will show the connection between the characters it links.

    We will choose another relationship to focus on: Jess and his sister May Belle. We will answer the questions about this relationship on our Relationship Chart:

    Who is this relationship between? Jess and May Belle
    How are the characters alike and different? Jess and May Belle are siblings. They both seem to wish they had more friends. They both do not seem to try to make attempts to make friends. They are different because of their age difference. May Belle cannot do the same things that Jess does.

    How do the characters feel about each other?May Belle looks up to Jess and wants to spend time with him. Jess feels that his sister is pesty and he wants to do things on his own.

    Why do the characters need each other? May Belle needs Jess because he is a role model to her. She also needs him to defend her against Janice Avery. Jess needs May Belle for companionship at home.

    Describe the relationship. Is it positive or negative? Both? Explain. The relationship is both positive and negative. It is positive when Jess gives in and decides to help defend May Belle against Janice Avery.

    Note: Continue to use the Relationship Chart started in the Direct Teaching. See Relationship Chart in this unit for specific examples. Save the Relationship Chart for use with Lesson 5.

  • Independent Practice

    will examine the main relationship in the book between Jess and Leslie. You will answer the questions for this relationship and record your answers on your Relationship Roster in your Student Packet. (See page 18 in the Student Packet.) 

    When you have finished answering the questions for Jess and Leslie, you will use your answers to create a Friendship Bridge on chart paper for the two characters. You will use the Friendship Bridge Example as a start, and you will add information about this relationship as support structures on the bridge. (See page 19 in the Student Packet.) Note: The Friendship Bridge Example can be used as a model for your students to design their own bridge. On your Friendship Bridge, make sure to include as much detail as possible about the characters, how they feel about each other, how the relationship has changed over time, and a description of the relationship. You may use colored pencils, markers, and other materials to decorate your Friendship Bridge.

  • Reflective Practice

    will come together as a class to share our Friendship Bridges. Each pair will show their bridge to the class and discuss the details they included in the bridge for Jess and Leslie’s relationship. We will start to brainstorm how this strong relationship between Jess and Leslie might impact other relationships and characters in the book. Note: This question will prompt students to think about an upcoming lesson on how one character impacts other characters or events in the book.

Build Student Vocabulary obliged

Tier 2 Word: obliged
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story Leslie is watching Jess while he milks his cow when his father says, “I’d be obliged if you’d finish milking and come on back to the house.”
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) Obliged means thankful and grateful. When Jess’s father says to him that he would be obliged if Jess finished milking the cow and went back to the house, it means that he would be grateful if Jess would do those things.
Students repeat the word Say the word obliged with me: obliged.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts I was obliged when the man helped me fix the flat tire on my car. I felt obliged when she helped me to cross the street. I was obliged to say thank you after my mother cooked me a nutritious meal.
Students provide examples When have you felt obliged? Start by saying, “I felt obliged when ____________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? obliged
Additional Vocabulary Words garish, vile, sanctuary, gunnysack, conspiring, sporadically

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)

User Comments

This is an interesting activity to try, with some tweeking, at all levels. The questions can be prepared and bagged for each or group of students as a variation.
Answers to these questions may also be used as a quick write activity.

Great ! Very timely and just what I needed!