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Understanding Needs vs. Wants Through Those Shoes Activities

Those Shoes promotes themes of empathy, generosity, and the struggle between wants and needs through Jeremy’s experiences. The Those Shoes activities explore Jeremy’s journey with a pair of much-coveted black shoes through character analysis, making connections and inference.

A book titled "those shoes" displayed on a stand with a caption about teaching the difference between needs and wants through activities.

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Those Shoes Summary

In the Those Shoes book, Jeremy wants a pair of trendy black shoes that all his classmates own.

Despite his grandmother’s claim that he needs new winter boots, Jeremy’s desire remains. 

When his old shoes break at school, he is given a pair of unfashionable replacements, which embarrasses him. 

Jeremy spots the coveted shoes at a thrift store on a shopping trip with his grandmother. Although they are too small, he buys them with his own money.

When he sees his friend Antonio’s taped-up shoes, Jeremy gives them to him, realizing that Antonio’s need is greater than his wants.

Those Shoes Activities

The Those Shoes book promotes fairness, generosity, and thankfulness, encouraging readers to reflect on the difference between wants and needs. 

This post delves into Those Shoes activities designed for character analysis, inference, and making connections.

Those Shoes Read-Aloud Questions

To enhance understanding of the “Those Shoes” book, these read-aloud questions prompt students to think critically about the story, character development, and underlying themes. 

  1. Why does Jeremy want the shoes so badly?
  2. Why did Jeremy want the same shoes as everyone else? Have you ever felt like this about something your friends have?
  3. Have you ever saved money as Grandma did for Jeremy’s new boots? How did it feel to buy the thing you saved up for?
  4. Grandma says there is no room for “want,” there is only room for “need.” What do you think she means? 
  5. Why does Grandma let Jeremy decide to buy the shoes?
  6. What do you think of Jeremy’s decision to buy the shoes? What would you have done?
  7. Why was it so difficult for Jeremy to give his shoes to Antonio?
  8. What does Jeremy’s decision to give the shoes to Antonio tell us about Jeremy’s character?
  9. How does Jeremy feel after he gives his shoes to Antonio? How do you know?
  10. What lesson do you think Jeremy learns by the end of the story?

In this activity pack, I have over 110 questions to use before, during, and after reading Those Shoes. Here are some questions you can ask before reading the book.

A promotional poster for a children's library program featuring a book discussion titled "those shoes," with various discussion questions to encourage deeper thinking about the story's themes.
Click on the images for Those Shoes read-aloud questions

Those Shoes Character Analysis Activities

Engaging with Jeremy’s character helps students understand how characters drive the plot, develop over time, and can be understood through their traits and motivations.

Character Development: Jeremy’s transformation from being envious to understanding empathy and generosity allows students to examine how characters evolve in response to their experiences. 
Activity: Create a ‘Character Growth Chart’ for Jeremy, noting key events and how they impact his thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Character Motivation: Understanding why a character behaves in a certain way is a crucial aspect of character analysis. Jeremy’s actions are driven by his desire to fit in with his peers. 
Activity: Write diary entries from Jeremy’s perspective, explaining why he wants the shoes so much.

Character Traits: Jeremy displays several character traits – determination, resourcefulness, kindness – that shape his interactions and decisions. 
Activity: Create a ‘Character Trait Web’ for Jeremy, identifying his traits and providing evidence from the text. 

Character’s Impact on Plot: Jeremy’s decisions and actions influence the story’s direction. This connection between character and plot is essential in character analysis. 
Activity: Create a flowchart showing how Jeremy’s actions lead to different events in the story, encouraging your students to think about the relationship between the character and the plot.

Educational worksheets focused on analyzing character traits in literature.
Click on the images to explore character analysis activities for Those Shoes.

Those Shoes Inference Activities

Engaging with Those Shoes activities enhances students’ comprehension and empathy by allowing them to infer Jeremy’s feelings, socio-economic background, and character growth.

Implicit Character Emotions: The book does not always explicitly state what Jeremy is feeling, requiring readers to infer his emotions based on his actions and dialogue.
Activity: Identify instances where Jeremy’s emotions are implied and explain their reasoning, using textual evidence to justify inferences.

Subtle Socio-Economic Themes: The book hints at Jeremy’s socioeconomic status, which influences his desires and experiences. 
Activity: Discuss how they know Jeremy cannot afford the shoes, even though the text never directly states it, and infer information from contextual clues.

Character Actions and Decisions: Jeremy’s actions and decisions provide clues about his character traits and values, which readers must infer. 
Activity: Create a ‘Trait Inference Chart’, listing Jeremy’s actions on one side and inferring his traits on the other, reinforcing the skill of making inferences about character traits based on actions.

Story Resolution: The story’s ending requires readers to infer the lesson Jeremy learned and its impact on his character’s growth. 
Activity: Write an alternate ending to the story, then discuss how this ending reflects their inferences about Jeremy’s learning and growth.

Educational worksheets focused on reading comprehension and inference skills, titled "activities for those shoes," accompanied by a purple pen.
Click on the images to explore inference activities for Those Shoes.

Those Shoes Making Connections Activities

Those Shoes helps students to make connections – linking the text to their own experiences, other texts, and the wider world. Students can connect with Jeremy’s longing for something he can’t have and his eventual understanding of what truly matters. 

Characters and Situations: Jeremy’s longing for something he can’t have and his experiences with peer pressure are situations many students can relate to. 
Text-to-self connections: As your students to write about when they wanted something they couldn’t have.

Universal Themes: The themes of desire, generosity, and empathy in Those Shoes are universal, allowing students to connect the book to other stories they have read. 
Text-to-text connections: Create a Venn diagram comparing Those Shoes with another story with similar themes. 

Social Issues: The book subtly addresses socio-economic inequality, a real-world issue, allowing students to connect the story to broader societal contexts.
Text-to-world connection: Discuss how Jeremy’s situation might be similar to what some people face in real life, considering larger social issues.

Realistic Setting: The book’s setting in a contemporary, urban neighbourhood may resemble the students’ own environments, enabling them to make text-to-world connections. 
Activity: Draw a parallel between Jeremy’s neighbourhood and their own, discussing similarities and differences.

Educational worksheet titled "reflections and connections: those shoes activities" featuring space for students' names and boxes for drawing or writing connections with the character jeremy.
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