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, The Red Pony, its characters, the setting, and the contextual background, including the Great Depression.

For additional photos (for inclusion in a customized PowerPoint presentation) refer to this photo essay of the Great Depression.

Refer to this photo essay for a visual introduction to the setting of The Red Pony.

Students need to be aware that The Red Pony is not a novel per se. Rather, it is comprised of four short stories (“The Gift,” “The Great Mountains,” “The Promise,” and “The Leader of the People”) that are related in theme, symbolism, and characters. Steinbeck wrote these stories in the 1930s, and they were later collected at the end of The Long Valley in 1938 (Viking Press). In 1945, The Red Pony was published (Viking Press) as a single volume containing all four stories. The main character, Jody, ages from about ten to twelve during the course of the book.

All references on this site are to the following version: Steinbeck, John. The Red Pony. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Materials Needed/Preparation

  • View the basic PowerPoint introduction to The Red Pony.
  • 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.
  • The PowerPoint presentation can be shown via laptop computer/LCD projector, interactive white board, or television.
  • Students will need their The Red Pony notebooks.

Estimated Time

1-2 class periods


  • During the PowerPoint presentation, students should be taking notes in their The Red Pony 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 activity 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

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