‘Of Mice and Men’ Revision: Quotation Hunt

As I’ve said in previous posts, students waste a fair amount of time, in the exam, searching through the book for a quotation to use in their essay (the evils of open-book examinations). The quicker students can navigate their way around the text the better and the following activitiy can serve as a quick, competitive starter to help achieve this.

How you want to arrange this is up to you – students in pairs, in teams or a few standing up with the winner staying on but the ‘Quotation Hunt’ is simple: you shout out an event from the book or a key quotation and the first person to find the page it’s on wins e.g. the first person to find the page where Curley’s Wife tells Lennie about her dreams.

Hopefully this will build up students’ confidence with navigating their way around the text and reinforce the idea that the better they know the text the easier it will be to find useful  quotations in the exam.



I decided to begin teaching this poem using a starter that I have adapted from an approach I picked up after taking my year 9s to The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The course was called ‘Wordscapes’ and encouraged students to use art as a stimulus for creative writing. If you teach in the area I would definitely recommend considering taking students on ‘Wordscapes’. They thoroughly enjoyed it and it can be used as an introduction to Original Writing Coursework.


  • Begin by asking students to identify all the things they can see in the painting. Push them beyond the obvious (girl, head, platter) and ask them to pick out some of the smaller details.
  • Ask students to select four of these that they think are the most important. They need to write these down the centre of a page with room enough to write around them.
  • Now ask students to think of as many adjectives as they can for each of their four items. For example: sullen/smug/triumphant Salome; severed/gruesome/isolated head.
  • Encourage them to select the adjective they think is the most powerful. I think it’s probably a good idea to model the writing process with them as you go along and discuss why you’ve made the decisions you have.
  • Now they have an 8 word poem. For each adjective and noun, they now need to add a verb. Again, ask them to put down as many as they can to begin with. For example: Salome gloats/smiles/presents; Head stares/glares/gapes. Again, ask them to select the one that they think is the most powerful.
  • Now they have a 12 word poem. I would encourage them to think about the structure of their poem. Perhaps it may be more effective if they have a particular line first rather than last etc. Once they have finished drafting their piece they can share it with their partner/group/the class.

Here is an example, written by a year 9, following the ‘Wordscapes’ trip. They were using a painting called Human Frailty by Salvator Rosa:


I think that you can either decide to discuss the character of Salome when you are talking about the poem but you could decide to do this a bit later if you think it’s more appropriate.

After they finish their poetry, tell them that Carol Ann Duffy has taken this biblical character and has written about her as if she is a modern woman. 


I thought that this was a fantastic poem to unroll (see post below). Duffy leads us towards the revelation at the end of the poem and begs us to question the character of Salome. Therefore, I decided to reveal the poem a line at the time and consider the tone of the poem, what we thought about Salome as a character and talk about the way in which it has been written. You can access the rather plain PowerPoint using the link below. It may well need some beautifying.


After looking at the poem I gave students responsibility for an individual line or lines. Using our discussion and building upon their skills from having studied poems before, they had to say as much as they could about their particular line. (You may want to give sections to small groups or differentiate by giving the more tricky lines to more able students) The line could be as short as ‘I’d done it before’ but it is amazing how much students can say about a line if that’s all they have to concentrate on (and they will be able to draw upon the discussions you had when you unrolled the poem).


Finally, I asked students to peer teach one another. This could be done in small groups and then jigsawing or whole class if you prefer.

Starters: Dictionary Game


 Again, this is not a game of my invention but I think it’s a brilliant little starter to get students learning new words and having fun with them. The rules can be a bit tricky to begin with but after a few goes they sould get the hang of it and become more confident. Here’s the instructions:

Object of the game

To learn new words, trick people and hopefully have fun!

How to play

1. Decide who is going first. That person is ‘The Reader’ for the first round and they will open the dictionary up to a random page and will have 1 minute to pick a word from that page (the most unusual are the best).

2. The Reader will read out the word and spell it out but will not read the definition. Everyone secretly writes down what they think the definition of the word is. The more the definition sounds like a dictionary definition, the better chance you have of fooling everyone! If you really don’t know what the definition could be just have a go at making something up that could convince the others. The Reader writes down the real meaning of the word on his/her own piece of paper.

3. When everyone has finished writing The Reader collects the definitions from everybody else. The Reader mixes them all up (including the real one) and reads them out. The rest of the group then vote for his/her choice of the real meaning of the word.


The Reader reveals the real definition of the word and points are as follows:

Each player who chooses the correct meaning of the word gets 2 points.

Each player gets a point for every vote for his/her made up definition.

If no one votes for the real definition, the Reader gets 2 points.

The Reader then gives the dictionary to the next player, and the next round starts.

The first to 10 points is the winner.