Tag Archives: Animal Farm


13 Jan

Animal Farm demonstrates, in part, the power of language to invite conformity and obedience.  Indeed, the animals are offered a series of commandments that are intended to guide (and later, normalise) behaviour.  I think it would be interesting to have students compare the commandments in Animal Farm (at any stage of the text) and the ten commandments of biblical fame, exploring the language to understand the linguistic power of the proclamations.  Then, as extension, students could craft their own set of commandments, perhaps ones that would be appropriate in a dystopian world of their own creation.

‘Animal Farm’ as Writing Stimulus

11 Jan

I recently read Margaret Atwood’s article entitled ‘Why Animal Farm Changed My Life‘ and was inspired by Atwood’s discussion of her perception of the gendered nature of dystopian fiction.  Using an extract of the article for stimulus, I want to invite students to reimagine and adapt Animal Farm for the modern day, offering a new perspective.  Hopefully, this will allow students to demonstrate knowledge of the conventions of dystopian fiction while also encouraging them to be creative and innovative in their own writing.


15 Nov

I have been on a picture book buying spree and happened upon an awesome text entitled CLICK, CLACK, MOO – Cows That Type.

The text begins with a group of cows who like to type.  They annoy the farmer by spending all their time at the typewriter.  They then start making requests.  These requests multiply, with the cows typing notes on behalf of their fellow animals.

I love this book!

I think it would be great as an introduction to Animal Farm as it explores ideas about agency.  For this same reason, it would be an interesting introduction to units exploring activism and identity.

Equality in a dystopian world

28 Jan

Harrison Bergeron‘,  a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., presents us with a society in which equality is enforced by purposefully handicapping those people who have natural intellect or beauty that exceeds the lowest levels of these qualities in society.

Vonnegut’s short story would be a great companion text to Orwell’s Animal Farm, offering students an opportunity to think critically about abuses of power, the complexities of seeking to create an equal society, and, of course, the famous Animal Farm maxim that all are equal, but some are “more equal than others.”

Thug summaries

26 Jan

Narrative summaries provide a useful overview for students, helping them to understand key issues and chains of causation in texts.  However, it is often difficult to find engaging summaries.

Today I stumbled upon Thug Notes, which offers concise texts summaries gangsta style.  While I am not really a fan of the gratuitous profanities that accompany some of these summaries, I do appreciate the ways in which Thug Notes manages to distill key textual issues in relatively easy to follow ways.

In particular, I would give students the option of viewing the summary of component of the Thug Notes version of Animal Farm.  The straight talking coupled with the visuals render the general narrative arc relatively easy to follow.

Draw that definition

14 Jan

As noted previously, my year nine students will need to understand what an allegory is before commencing their study of Orwell’s Animal Farm.  Given the importance of this concept, I am planning to devote an entire lesson to defining and exploring what an allegory is and how it works.

To start that lesson, I will give students the first two paragraphs of the definition of allegory provided by Shmoop.  Students will be tasked with reading that definition, highlighting key words, and creating an annotated visual representation of that definition.  The highlighting and visual representations (along with any questions generated) will be the subject of a follow on class discussion.

A novel in 12 words or less

12 Jan

Want to see what students consider to be the key message of a text?  Challenge them to create a summary in 12 words or less!

For some amusing examples, check out this gallery in the Washington Post.  Many of the classic texts are represented, including Animal Farm and To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Animal Farm Defence

11 Jan

Orwell is the author of one of the most famous lines in literature: “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

In order to explore the real-world ramifications of this statement, students could be tasked with arguing in favour of one person/group of people in an otherwise equal group being given special treatment.  See, for example, this article.

An alternate ending for Animal Farm?

11 Jan

George Orwell’s Animal Farm concludes with an inability to distinguish pigs from humans.  This ending was intended to convey the replacement of one system of rule with another, equally problematic, one.  

What if the ending was altered?  What if, instead of irony, the text ended happily ever after?

A British animated version of Animal Farm sought to do just that.

Asking students to reflect on the impact of a change of this nature would be an interesting was of testing their appreciation of the significance of the text’s ending.

Unpacking the allegory

1 Jan

This YouTube clip provides a succinct summary of the ways in which Animal Farm draws on historical events.

In and of itself the video is not detailed enough to contextualise the text.  However, it could function as a useful revision tool.