Written in 1961 by Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach still thrills children with its outlandish tale of an orphaned boy raised by wicked aunts who has a cross-world adventure with a group of insects inside a giant peach. It’s a story full of fun and also full of potential side-excursions into various subject areas. We’re excited for you to join us in this James and the Giant Peach – Lesson Plan.
Below are some ideas to explore and a list of resources, a vocabulary worksheet, and a comprehension quiz all centered around this James and the Giant Peach.
James and the Giant Peach – Lesson Plan
Ideas to Explore
In the book, the peach starts out near the Cliffs of Dover and ends up on the Empire State Building. Take some time to explore the places mentioned along the way. You may also want to have students make a travel brochure about James’ trip or design postcards to send from each location.
- White Cliffs of Dover
- The Azores
- Empire State Building
- Central Park
- Fruit and seeds – Bring in different kinds of fruit. Dissect them and analyze each part. How do the skins differ? What’s different about a seed and a pit? Be sure and eat some of the fruit.
- Buoyancy – In the book, the peach floats in the Atlantic Ocean. What makes some things sink and other things float? Try a “Mythbusters” approach where you design an experiment to try to determine whether a peach floating in salt water is fantasy or reality (never mind about the talking insects!). Use this “Sink or Swim” simple physics experiment to demonstrate buoyancy.
- Insects – There are many insects (and an arachnid as well) in this story that you could spend time learning about. Is earthworm right – do centipedes really have 100 legs? You can learn about centipedes, earthworms, spiders, glowworms, silkworms, grasshoppers, ladybugs, etc.
You may want to consider raising silkworms as a class project. There are silkworm kits available.
- Clouds – The Cloud-Men figure heavily in the plot of James and the Giant Peach. This would be a great time to study the different types of clouds and or/the rainbow.
- Similes – Roald Dahl uses lots of similes in his book. Talk about the difference between similes and metaphors and point out some of the similes as you read the book. Here are a some all within a page or two:
- “They were like a couple of hunters who had just shot an elephant and were not quite sure whether it was dead or alive.”
- “ . . .they looked like midgets from another world beside it”
- “helicopters were landing like wasps all over the hill”
- Vocabulary – James and the Giant Peach contains a rich vocabulary of words such as imbecile, insidiously, luminous, pandemonium, perambulator, tether and aghast. Have your students use index cards to make a set of vocabulary cards to go with this book. Or use the attached vocabulary worksheet to practice your some definitions.
Have a peach party with all kinds of peach desserts and peach decorations and watch the 1996 animated movie based on this wonderful book.