J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, The Hobbit, has enchanted readers for many years. Filled with fantastic creatures and a Hobbit who is certainly not interested in adventures, there’s a reason this tale is a fantasy classic.
J.R.R. Tolkien first wrote The Hobbit for his own children with no intentions of publication but was encouraged to publish it and the novel became an instant sensation. Despite being published back in 1937 it’s still a well-loved novel worldwide and it’s the perfect book to study in the middle grades (especially for kids who love fantasy novels).
Best Age For The Hobbit
Tweens are the perfect age to begin reading The Hobbit. Kids between 8 – 10 will likely need to read-aloud due to the challenging vocabulary, and children over the age of 10 will likely be able to read alone.
The reading level for The Hobbit is 6.6 grade-level and a Lexile level of 1000L which according to Scholastic is the equivalent of 11 years old. The Hobbit does not include sex or sexual violence, nor does it include any bad language. However, children under the age of 8 will likely struggle with some of the violence.
The Hobbit Activities For Kids
This list of resources and activity ideas will help you create a personalized unit study for your middle school students. Read the book together, discuss the story, work on some vocabulary, include a few writing assignments and you are well on your way to a great literature study.
You’ll find plenty of things to keep you busy in the list below;
The Tolkien Professor – These incredible podcasts from Corey Olsen (author of Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien & The Hobbit) are the perfect auditory companion to the book. The podcast episodes are suitable for children and include a wide range of thought-provoking questions. We’ve opted to listen to these podcast episodes in the car or during some quiet time.
Characters in conflict – Use this worksheet to determine which characters were in conflict with one and other, how that was demonstrated in the story and why they were in conflict with one and other.
The Tolkien Society – An educational charity and literary society devoted to the study and promotion of the life and works of the author and academic J.R.R. Tolkien includes a wide range of learning activities including; Studying Tolkien and Teaching Tolkien.
The Hobbit Vocabulary list – Powered by vocabulary.com, this list is comprised of frequently used words and phrases that children may otherwise be unfamiliar with. It includes a definition, examples and activities such as a spelling bee and vocabulary jam.
Watch the movie(s) – There are currently three Hobbit movies; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey which was released in 2012, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug which was released in 2013 and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies which was released in 2014. Al Together these films act as a prequel to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Discuss light and darkness and how that’s demonstrated both in the film and within the books – This activity is the perfect way to discuss how different mediums (film, and books) demonstrate different emotions in the audience using light.
Random House Teacher’s Guide – This free 24 page PDF document includes some fantastic discussion questions, vocabulary, and writing ideas for children. It’s well worth printing this document off, storing it in a binder and referencing throughout your lesson plan.
Read the sequel to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings – Consider extending your education of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to his other works. Most notably the sequel to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings which is split into three books; The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers & The Return Of The King.
Match the characters to their associated attributes – This activity is the perfect way to open up a discussion about character developments and how you can determine a character attributes based on the writer’s vocabulary.
The Hobbit Lesson Plan
Putting together a lesson plan can seem incredibly overwhelming, however, it doesn’t have to be. Many of us over complicate things, especially moving into middle school education, however, keeping it simple is still a great thing for both yourself and this age group.
This simple but affective Hobbit lesson plan reflects this;
Firstly, begin by reading the book yourself. If possible get an annotated edition that you can use as your teaches guide. After reading the reviews online, I purchased this one from Amazon. The extra notes and information can be very useful for reference.
Using your annotated edition or study guide make a list of questions to discuss as you read the book together with your students.
You’ll spend the vast majority of your time reading and discussing the book with your students. Depending on the ages and reading ability this may take more or less time.
Our literature and English education time were split between reading the novel and writing assignments/activities. Copywork and dictation are great too. The exact activities and essays are likely going to depend o the students writing ability. Use the activities above for reference.
Add some vocabulary study (again more on this above) or have your child create a diorama.
I would only advise watching The Hobbit once you’ve finished reading the book. You don’t have to watch the movie, however, it’s great for piecing together missing parts or opening up a discussion on which one is better and why, what scenes were different to how the book portraied them etc.
If you’re finding this to be a worthwhile topic and something both you and your students are enjoying, then consider expanding it into a larger unit by reading the sequel books (more on this above) or by reading the books that inspired Tolkien; Norse mythology and George MacDonald.
You could even tie this into a history lesson, after all Tolkien was born in 1892 and lived through World War I. Consider what his life was like back then as well as how he wrote and published the book prior to computers.