Getting Started
Pre-Reading Activity
Grades 6–12
Language Arts, History
Entire Class, Individual, Research, Writing


After viewing the PowerPoint presentation students will be able to:

  • Gain knowledge of the life of John Steinbeck.
  • Be familiar with the context of the novel.
  • Understand the setting and themes.
  • Gain knowledge of the main characters.


Through a brief PowerPoint presentation, students will be introduced to John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, its characters, the setting, and the contextual background, including the Great Depression. (See Leaving Home and Why California? lesson plans.)

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • View the basic sample PowerPoint introduction to Of Mice and Men.
  • Create an initial PowerPoint presentation (based on the sample on this site) with an introduction to Steinbeck, photos, the context of the novel, its characters, and themes.
  • Read the Leaving Home and Why California? sections and add elements, as necessary, to the PowerPoint. (However, students learn in different ways, and providing hard copies of this information may work just as well.)
  • The PowerPoint presentation can be shown via laptop computer/LCD projector or television.
  • Students will need Of Mice and Men notebooks.

Estimated Time

1-2 class periods


  • During the PowerPoint presentation, students should be taking notes in their Of Mice and Men notebooks.
  • After viewing, initiate a discussion of what the novel may be about. This should be a free-form discussion based on what students have learned so far before opening the book.
  • Students should also take notes based on what other classmates have said. This will prepare them later for the Mining for Examples activity.
  • Teachers should also ask students what they know about the Great Depression.

Post Activity/Takeaways/Follow-up


  • Students can discuss/write what they know about Steinbeck.


  • Have students write an evaluation of the project and what they have learned.
  • Students can further research/present information about Steinbeck. Have students briefly research, via the Internet, more about John Steinbeck and the Great Depression. This will be the basis of a class discussion the following day.


  • After checking students’ notes based on the PowerPoint presentation, teachers may assign a quiz based on the presentation.

Common Core State Standards Met

  • Reading Standards for Literature 6-12
  • ~Craft and Structure: 6
  • ~Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 9
  • Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
  • ~Key Ideas and Details: 1
  • Writing Standards 6-12
  • ~Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 8
  • Speaking and Listening Standards 6-12
  • ~Comprehension and Collaboration: 2
  • Language Standards 6-12
  • ~Knowledge of Language: 3
  • ~Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: 4, 5, 6
  • Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12
  • ~Craft and Structure: 4
  • ~Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 7
  • Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6-12
  • ~Research to Build and Present Knowledge: 8

Related Lesson Plans for this Work