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Sparking Curiosity with The Widow's Broom Activities for the Classroom

Are you searching for fun and engaging The Widow’s Broom activities to use with your students to help them practice character analysis, inference, or sequencing skills? Scroll down for some literacy activity ideas. The Widow’s Broom book is also great for classroom discussions focusing on fear of the unknown, intolerance, and the courage to stand against biases. You can find some read-aloud questions to use with your students today.

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The Widow's Broom Summary

In The Widow’s Broom book by Chris Van Allsburg, we’re introduced to a story about a witch’s broom losing its flying power and falling into Widow Minna Shaw’s garden. She quickly discovers this is no ordinary broom; it can chop wood, fetch water, play music, and even perform housework!

However, the Spivey family, her neighbors, are wary of the broom’s magical abilities. The Spivey boys, in particular, are frightened and spread rumors about the broom, causing fear throughout the community.

This leads to an attempt to seize it. Widow Shaw, who has become fond of the broom, hatches a clever plan to protect her unique friend from those who misunderstand its powers.

The Widow's Broom Activities

The following The Widow’s Broom activities can lead to discussions about the fear of the unknown, intolerance, and how to stand up against baseless prejudices. 

By engaging with The Widow’s Broom activities and the book itself, students can delve into a world where magic meets reality and learn lessons about acceptance, courage, and the importance of standing up for your beliefs.

These activities are designed to complement the themes found in The Widow’s Broom book, focusing on problem and solution, character analysis, and making inferences.

The Widow's Broom Read-Aloud Questions

Engage your students with these The Widow’s Broom questions to encourage critical thinking about the story, character development, plot progression, and underlying themes. 

Questions such as the significance of the broom in the story, why the Spivey boys fear the broom, and how Chris Van Allsburg uses illustrations to deepen the narrative are perfect for discussion.

  • What is the significance of the broom in the story?
  • Why do the Spivey boys fear the broom, and how does their fear influence the plot?
  • How does Chris Van Allsburg use illustrations to add depth to the story?
  • How does the community react to the broom’s actions? Why do they react this way?
  • What role does superstition play in the story, and how does it affect the characters’ decisions?
  • How does the story’s ending resolve the conflict between the widow and the villagers?
  • If you were in the story, how would you react to the widow’s broom and why?
  • How do Minna’s neighbors react to the broom’s magic, and why? How does their reaction contribute to the problem in the story?
  • What solution does Minna come up with to protect the broom?
  • Why do you think the author chose a broom as the magical object in the story?


This
set of over 120 questions related to The Widow’s Broom book is perfect for sparking deep conversations before, during, and after reading.

The Widow's Broom Problem and Solution Activities

The Widow’s Broom book presents a clear problem centered around Minna’s neighbors’ fear and misunderstanding of the broom’s magic. It explores various solutions and ultimately provides a resolution.

Problem Identification: The main problem in the story arises when Minna’s neighbors become fearful of the broom’s magic. Identifying this problem is essential as it forms the crux of the conflict in the story. 
Activity: Involve students in writing or discussing what they perceive to be the story’s main problem and why they think so.

Solution Exploration: Minna devises a clever solution to keep the broom safe from her suspicious neighbors. This provides an opportunity to discuss possible solutions. 
Activity: Students can brainstorm ways Minna could appease her neighbors or protect the broom, promoting problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

Understanding Consequences: The story shows the consequences of fear and misunderstanding escalating the problem. Understanding these consequences is important for students to grasp the complexity of the problem. 
Activity: Students could list or discuss the consequences of the neighbors’ fear and how Minna could appease them.

Resolution Recognition: The resolution occurs when Minna successfully hides the broom’s magic powers, convincing her neighbors that it is harmless. Recognizing resolutions helps students understand how problems can be solved.
Activity: Students could write a short paragraph explaining how Minna resolved the problem They can also compare their own solutions to Minna’s.

The Widow's Broom Inference Activities

The Widow’s Broom book offers rich opportunities for students to practice inference skills by analyzing textual clues, illustrations, character reactions, and themes.

Textual Clues: The author provides several textual clues that can be interpreted differently, encouraging students to infer meaning beyond the literal text.
Activity: Have students highlight or note down parts of the text that aren’t explicitly explained and discuss what they infer from these sections. This activity encourages students to look beyond the surface level of the text, enhancing their understanding of implicit meanings.

Illustrations: The illustrations in The Widow’s Broom are detailed and nuanced, allowing readers to infer additional information about the story.
Activity: Ask students to study the illustrations and write down any additional details they infer about the characters or plot that aren’t specifically mentioned in the text.

Character Reactions: Understanding characters’ reactions to events can help students infer their feelings and motivations.
Activity: Have students pick a character and infer their feelings or motivations based on their reactions to events in the story. Discuss these inferences as a class.

Theme and Message: Inferring a story’s underlying theme or message is a key reading comprehension skill.
Activity: Ask students to write a paragraph explaining what they infer as the underlying theme or message of The Widow’s Broom.

The Widow's Broom Character Traits Activities

Through its richly developed characters, The Widow’s Broom book is ideal for teaching about character traits. Activities may involve analyzing characters’ actions, dialogues, reactions, and relationships to infer traits and understand their development throughout the story.

Actions: Characters’ actions often reveal their traits. In The Widow’s Broom, Minna’s actions demonstrate kindness and courage, while the neighbors reveal fear and prejudice.
Activity: Have students choose a character and list their actions throughout the story. Ask them to infer character traits based on these actions.

Dialogue: Dialogue can reveal much about a character’s personality and feelings. In this story, what the characters say (or don’t say) provides important insights into their traits.
Activity: Ask students to find examples of dialogue that reveal something about a character’s traits. Discuss these examples in class. This activity encourages critical thinking by making students analyze dialogue in the context of character traits, and it promotes literacy by focusing on understanding and interpreting dialogue.

Reactions: How a character reacts to situations can tell us about their personality. For instance, Minna’s reactions reveal her resourcefulness and resilience.
Activity: Have students identify key events in the story and describe how various characters react to them. Discuss what these reactions tell us about the character’s traits and connect plot events with character development.

Relationships: The relationships between characters can also shed light on their traits. For instance, Minna’s relationship with the broom reveals her open-mindedness and compassion.
Activity: Ask students to describe a relationship between two characters in the story and explain what it reveals about their traits. This encourages students to analyze characters, enhancing their understanding of character dynamics.

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