Bridge to Terabithia: 7 Creative Classroom Activities
1. Unlikely Friendships
“Sometimes seemingly different people form friendships or alliances that balance each other out. One person may have qualities or strengths that the other person lacks, and vice versa. In Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson has created a unique friendship between two unlikely friends.” In this activity, students will explore what it means to “balance one another out,” by analyzing both Jess and Leslie’s friendship and a real life friendship.
2. Foreshadowing, Flashbacks, & Imaginary Places
Though Leslie’s death comes as a tragic shock to Jess, the author foreshadows her death throughout the book. In this activity, the class is divided into two groups. The teacher takes turn reading passages from the book and the teams must identify whether the passage is foreshadowing or a flashback. If they are correct, they can place an “o” or an “x” on the board. The game continues until one of them wins tic-tac-toe. In the second activity students will explore the setting of Terabithia and compare/contrast it to imaginative settings from other series.
When Jess builds the wooden bridge to Terabithia at the conclusion of the story, it symbolizes his ability to build bridges with several family members and friends. Throughout the story there are characters with remarkable differences that, through shared experiences and communication, learn to respect and relate to one another. In this activity, students focus on discussing the relationship between Jess and his father. They then engage in a bridge building activity to emulate the links that eventually form between characters.
4. Vivid Imagery
The author uses vivid imagery and descriptions in giving life to Terabithia. Supply your class with art materials and spread them around the room so they cannot see anyone else’s work. Read a passage out loud to the class. As you read have students paint/draw the images that are brought to mind. After reading is done, have the class compare what they have created? How do words bring unique images to the student’s imagination?
5. Reader’s Theater
Imagine four characters (other than Leslie) sharing their memories of Leslie and telling about how she changed their lives or what they remember about her. Write a reader’s theater script in which the four characters talk about Leslie. Each of the characters should speak at least three or four times.
Have students use this interactive tool to create a trading card for either Jess or Leslie, capturing information that highlights each character’s search for friendship and role as a friend to the other. Then have them create cards for other characters in the novel. Have students work in groups to trade their cards, highlighting each character’s relationship to the other as they do so.
7. Creating Literature Circles & Response Journals
Use the guidelines here to create LITERATURE CIRCLES made up of 3-5 students each. Within these small discussion groups, students will share their questions, thoughts, and interpretations. Students will also keep LITERATURE RESPONSE JOURNALS, in which they will make predictions and record their reactions, observations, questions, and connections.