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A Closer Look at Setting in Of Mice and Men through Poetry

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by Kristel Lehner, John F. Kennedy High School, Bloomington, Minnesota, 2007


  1. Students will reread a chapter of Of Mice and Men with a critical lens.
  2. Students will see Steinbeck’s use of setting as integral, not simply incidental.
  3. Students will express the importance of the setting in a creative format.

Students should finish reading Of Mice and Men prior to this lesson. On the first reading, students focus on the characters and plot, but a second read (of one chapter) allows them to focus more on the setting. This lesson should take approximately two to three days. Handouts explain the activities clearly to students and there are examples included to show to your class.

Lesson Instructions

Depending on the skill level of your students, you may want to begin with an introduction to setting. See Handout#1 (PDF).

  1. Divide the class into six groups. Each group will be responsible for one chapter of Of Mice and Men.
  2. As a group, students should review and record the major events and conflicts of their assigned chapter.
  3. Individually, students will then reread this chapter and record quotes that describe the setting of the chapter. See Handout #2 (PDF).
  4. Students will then meet as a group and discuss their findings, highlighting setting descriptions that seem most significant.
  5. Students, individually or as a group, will write a found poem using the quotes that describe the setting. See Handout #3 (PDF).
  6. Groups will perform their found poems for the class in a manner that enhances understanding of the book. For example, some groups may use music or art as they read their poems.
  7. After each poem is presented, the class will discuss questions and thoughts they have regarding Steinbeck’s use of setting in the particular chapter. See Handout #4 (PDF).