The Birchbark House


About the story

Omakayas is a seven-year-old Ojibwa girl, the only survivor of a smallpox epidemic on an island in Lake Superior. Adopted and raised on another island, she gives us a child’s-eye view of Ojibwa life, culture, and skills. We’re right there with her for four seasons as she builds The Birchbark House, harvests rice, befriends bears, tans hides, picks berries, moves into the cedar log house, and collects maple sugar—and discovers her own unique talent and role in the world.  

About the LitWits Explorer’s Guide

Experience The Birchbark House with your students in hands-on, meaningful ways! Your kids can build their own birchbark houses, trade with an overstocked shopkeeper, grow a native resource, hear Ojibwa music, make a “blended cultures” memento, and so much more! ! 

LitWits Explorer’s Guides are private web pages that include creative and academic downloadables. This lesson planning resource is ideal for ages 8-12, but it’s highly adaptable. Scroll down to get more details and a free idea with template.



Product Description

The LitWits Explorer’s Guide for The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich

Everything in this “experience guide” comes from our unique sensory workshops on The Birchbark House. It’s packed with hands-on ways to get into the characters’ shoes. When kids see, feel, hear, taste, smell, and DO what the characters did, they understand more. Better yet, they want to read more.

LitWits Explorer’s Guides are web pages packed with downloadables—templates, activity aids, academic handouts, and more. (Here’s a sample, for a different book.) Because our guides live online, we can link you to useful info and audiovisuals. And you’ll always have the very latest updates!

The LitWits Explorer’s Guide for The Birchbark House includes:

  • sensory prop suggestions, with photos
  • creative project and activity ideas, with photos
  • printable templates, excerpts, and activity prompts
  • takeaway topics, to fuel meaningful conversations
  • printable handouts for creative writing, the narrative arc, setting, and more
  • research and audiovisual links, for one-stop prep and homework help
  • great quotes from the book, where copyright allows
  • a PDF version, for clean and easy printing

This guide is adaptable to a wide range of ages. (See the Ways to Use tab for classroom and homeschool uses.) We find 8-12-year-olds consistently “ready to LitWit,” but you know best what your kids are ready for, interested in, and capable of.

Common Core Alignment
The LitWits experience of this book is jam-packed with carefully integrated lessons — but they’re embedded in FUN, so kids don’t feel “taught.”  At a bare minimum, the use of this guide helps meet these Common Core goals:

THIRD GRADE Common Core Alignment
FOURTH GRADE Common Core Alignment
FIFTH GRADE Common Core Alignment
SIXTH GRADE Common Core Alignment

Please note that LitWits® is a registered trademark of LitWits Workshops, LLC.  All LitWits Explorer’s Guides are copyrighted and may be used for non-commercial educational purposes only.

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