Setting the Scene – Diving into a Novel Through Its Setting

The end of the year is in sight; testing is finished.  But, with weeks of school still to go, it’s the perfect time for a novel study – at least from a teacher’s perspective. Kids, on the other hand might need some convincing!  One way to do that is with plenty of activities leading up to the novel itself. Activities about settings in the novel can pique kids’ interest.

Setting the Scene - Introducing a novel through its setting


To begin exploring settings, start with settings that the kids are already interested in – fun vacation settings.  Explore for pictures, maps, and fun facts about some favorite places, and discuss what makes a great vacation setting.

Now that the kids are into the idea of “places,” move into an exploration of settings from the novel.  Search for pictures, maps, and facts.  Discuss what is unique about these settings.  Talk about how a place can be very different for different people, tourists versus local residents for example.  Brainstorm ideas about what it might be like to live there – what occupations would people have, what would daily life be like?

For exploring real locations in the world, you can’t beat these two sites:


For example, if you’re getting ready to read Theodore Taylor’s The Cay, start with island vacation locations.  A fun activity at this point might be a vocabulary game like Scattergories, in which the category is “things you would find on an island.”  Then move on to imagining how it would be different for people who live and work on an island rather than just going there for vacation.


To introduce the idea of “time” as an element of setting, you could begin with a fun topic – time travel.  Expanding on the idea of future and past times, students could look into a science museum site about future space travel or a site from a historical location.

EXAMPLE – Schooled

For example, to prepare students to enjoy Gordon Korman’s novel Schooled, research all kinds of fun sixties stuff – peace signs, VW busses, and so on.

Ready to Read?

Ready to read?  Check out these novel studies in my store which now include the “I Have . . . Who Has . . Games, and there is also a free resource available separately to augment your study of each of these novels.

The Cay Novel Study cover

Because of Winn- Dixie Novel Study - cover

Schooled Novel Study

Number the Stars novel study

Related Posts

Reading a Play with Close Reading     Story Elements Step by Step Chart

Happy reading!

Setting the Scene - Introducing a Novel through Its Setting

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