One of the major themes in House on Mango Street is growing up. As Esperanza grows up, she starts to realize things about herself and the adult world–hence why this is called a ‘coming of age’ novel! This is essential for students to understand, so I created a notes sheet to help students begin to think about this theme in selected vignettes.
Before assigning the notes sheet, I knew I wanted the students to focus on these vignettes, which reference the theme of growing up the most:
- “Those Who Don’t”
- “The Family of Little Feet”
- “A Rice Sandwich”
- “The First Job”
- “Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark”
I created a notes sheet that incorporated those vignettes and asked students to describe the plot and explain what Esperanza learned about the adult world.
To introduce my students to the activity, we talked about ways that we learned–learned in school, at home, our sports/music, etc. The students came up with a list: practice, talking to others, asking questions, listening, trying and failing. We decided there were two main ways of learning: observation and experience.
And these were the two things that they paid attention to while reading their vignettes, what was Esperanza learning about the real world through observation and through her own experience.
Here is a preview of the notes sheet. The full version can be viewed/downloaded here: Growing Up Note-Taking Guide.
This resource was rich and really helped create an in-depth discussion about theme. We also followed up the notes by talking about ways we had grown up, especially in the transition between sixth to eighth grade, which was a perfect transition into the students’ next activity: Dear Sixth Grade Self.