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The Hobbit
By J.R.R. Tolkien

Activities based on the novel and comic adaptation.

'The Hobbit' is a difficult and challenging book for Junior aged children. Nevertheless it's one that they really seem to enjoy. I've found that my 'reluctant readers' have particularly enjoyed listening and responding to events in the story. 'The Hobbit' is a long book and it's quite possible that you won't get through it in the time you have. Your more able readers will probably go on and finish it on their own. You may like to share the comic adaptation with the rest of the class.


Bilbo's Diary
The standard activity for a book of this kind. You may want to read the children this example of Thorin's diary before they go off and attempt their own.

Dear Diary,

Just like Gloin I too was convinced that we'd come to the wrong house this evening. So far the strange little hobbit has shown the burgling knowledge of a drunk goblin. To think that we're going to rely on him to help us get our treasure back from Smaug.

But wait, I'm starting to get ahead of myself here. I should tackle things in the order that they happened and then you won't get confused. Right, let me start at the very beginning of the evening. Gandalf, some of my fellow dwarfs and I had arrived at the house of one Bilbo Baggins, Esquire, who, I had been reliably informed by Gandalf, was seeking employment as a burglar. Indeed, as we arrived at his carefully painted green door I noticed that it bore the special symbol of an expert treasure hunter looking for a job. I must admit, though, that I started having doubts about the hobbit from this moment on. His garden was far too well looked after, for one thing. The only thing expert treasure hunters tend to dig up are chests of gold. This, so-called 'burglar', appeared more at home digging up weeds. And when we got into the house, as well, it was evident that the hobbit was far more at home with a duster than a sword. But, once again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, we had arrived at Bilbo Baggins' hobbit-hole. Gandalf gave the green door a hefty knock with his staff and we stood and waited. And waited. And waited. Being the most important person there, apart from the illustrious Gandalf of course, I was standing nearest the door waiting to go in first. The other dwarfs started impatiently pushing against me so they could peer through the small window in the door to see what exactly was keeping our host.
I was just about to ask the others to keep a more suitable distance away when the door suddenly shot open and I felt myself catapulted forward and head first into the hobbit's hallway. I wasn't alone as Bifur, Bofur and Bombor all landed heavily on top of me. Bombor, in particularly, landed with some force.

As you can probably imagine, I was not at all pleased at being squashed on a complete stranger's carpet. My haughtiness towards the hobbit was quite understandable, I feel. However, the hobbit kept on squeaking like a rodent, saying how sorry he was over and over again. So persistent were his apologies that I eventually told him that it was all right and that no harm had been done.

Children can find writing a diary from a character's point of view very tricky so I always try and help them out a bit so that they can concentrate on the important part of this task - giving the characters point of view. A good way to do this is to give them a list of the main events in each day of the story. The list for the first two days of 'The Hobbit' is given below.

Bilbo's Diary - Notes to help you write your diary

Day 1
Morning - Bilbo outside in his garden blowing smoke rings
Old man with a staff arrives looking for someone to take part in an adventure he is arranging.
Bilbo tells the man that people don't want adventures in Hobbiton and says good morning to him.
The old man doesn't go and wonders if Bilbo remembers who he is.
Bilbo doesn't until the old man tells him that his name is Gandalf.
Gandalf says that Bilbo can go on the adventure.
Bilbo doesn't want to go and invites Gandalf to tea the next day in an effort to get rid of him.

Day 2
Bilbo has forgotten that Gandalf is coming to tea!
The doorbell rings but it's not Gandalf it's Dwalin, a dwarf.
Balin arrives next. Kili and Fili arrive.
Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin follow.
Gandalf arrives together with Bifur, Bofur, Bombur and Thorin Oakenshield - who ends up squashed on the mat!
Bilbo brings all the dwarfs food and drink.
The dwarfs annoy Bilbo when they are tidying up.
The dwarfs sing of the dragon and their gold.
Thorin starts the meeting and talks about "not coming back alive." Bilbo has a funny fit!
Gloin starts going on about Bilbo not being up to the job.
Bilbo's Tookish side takes over and he storms in
Gandalf calms everyone down and shows Thorin the map, tells about the secret passage and shows everyone the key.
Thorin asks Bilbo to suggest a plan.
Bilbo asks Thorin to tell him all about the gold and the dragon, which he does.
They decide to start off early in the morning and put in their orders for breakfast.


Using the illustrated story
The availability of an illustrated version of the Hobbit is really useful and you can do a lot of work comparing the two versions of the story. It provides opportunities to talk about the role of illustrations in stories and the importance of descriptions in written texts. You can compare the same parts of the story in each text and see what cuts the person adapting the novel has made. You can use the links between the two texts to talk about speech in texts, looking perhaps at the role of the speech marks. Children can convert segments of text from the novel to their own comic strip versions. They can convert a page or so from the comic novel into a proper written story - this is a good activity as they have to add a lot of description.
Wilderland Tourist Guide
The map at the end of 'The Hobbit' provides a great inspiration for creative writing. One activity that we have done is a Tourist Guide based on the map. The children picked two or three places on the map to write a guidebook entry to trying hard to keep in the style of a holiday leaflet. The children went on to produce a complete Wilderland Tourist Board leaflet detailing the places on the map trying hard to encourage people to come and visit Wilderland! There's two ways you can do this activity. You can either do it at the start of the book when the children have no idea about these places and just have to use their imaginations or you can do it at the end of the book when they know what's there and really have to try hard to 'sell' the attractions to possible visitors. An alternate activity could involve writing a set of directions to navigate your way from Hobbiton to the Lonely Mountain, noting possible hazards on the way.
Riddles

One of the most memorable sections of 'The Hobbit' is the riddle competition with Gollum. My class really enjoyed writing riddles of their own but appreciated some riddle frameworks. Examples of the frameworks we used are given below.

'Who am I?' Riddle - write a riddle where people have to guess who the riddle is about.
Choose:
A time of day
An animal
A type of weather
A type of food
An item of clothing
A colour
Example (by Ben Hayward)
The time of day he is is 10:30am.
He is a lion because he gets mad with some people.
He is sunny because he laughs at jokes. He is chocolate because he likes chocolate.
He is silly ties.
He is blue because he's sometimes calm.
Colour Riddle
Choose a colour. Make a list of lots of things that are that colour or that you think of when you imagine that colour. Think of a description for each of those things and them write them down together to form a colour riddle.
Example
It peels open from the top,
It shines brightly.
Waves wash up against it.
It has a bitter taste.
Initial Letter Riddle
The first letters of the answers to each line will spell out the answer to the riddle.
Example
My first is a loud noise.
My second is a black liquid that keeps things in working order.
My third is the colour of lemons.
My fourth has black and white stripes.
My fifth makes you cry when you peel it.
My sixth catches fish in the sea.
My seventh's shell breaks if you drop it.
I come from the Emerald Isle.
Metaphorical Riddles / Classic Riddles
These are the most difficult riddles to write! Bilbo and Gollum use this type of riddle in 'The Hobbit'.
Example
Storms drive me from my home. I fall battered and bruised. Predators bite me and eat me. But my children escape unharmed.

Guided Reading Questions

Kevin Kerr has contributed these guided reading questions for the book.

13-36

Describe what a Hobbit hole is like?

Describe Bilbo.

Who was Gandalf?

Who was the first dwarf at Bilbo's door?

Name all the dwarves.

Who was the most important dwarf?

Who was Thorins grandfather?

Why was Bilbo chosen?

36-61

What did Bilbo do when he woke up?

What did Gandalf say when he arrived?

Who were the fire making experts?

What were the names of the trolls?

How did Gandalf save them from the trolls?

Where did they go next?

Who was Elrond?

62-93

Describe the storm?

What happened in the cave?

Who was nearest to the whips?

Did the goblins like Thorins people?

What was the name the goblins gave the sword Orcrist?

Who killed the great goblin?

What was the name of the sword Gandalf had?

How did Bilbo get separated from his friends?

What was a turning point in Bilbo's career?

Why couldn't Bilbo think of a riddle in the end?

What was in the Bilbo's pocket?

How did Bilbo escape?

Who did Bilbo find in the depths of the mountain?

What was Gollum like?

94-112

When Bilbo got outside what did he discover about the mountains?

Who was on look out when Bilbo found his companions?

Why didn't Bilbo tell them about the ring?

What proverb did escaping goblins to be caught by the wolves become?

What name did the wolves have?

How did they escape the trees?

113-137

When the eagles had dropped off their passengers, why did Bilbo cry?

What was the Carrock?

Who was Gandalf's cousin?

What tactic did Gandalf employ to introduce the dwarves?

What was strange about Beorn's animals?

What noises were heard in the night?

What did Beorn bring back from his short drips to the mountain?

138-153

Why did they feel they were being suffocated in the forest?

What was Gandalf's last piece of advice?

What happened with the river and the boat?

Who was sent up the tree and why?

What had Bombur been dreaming of?

What name did Bilbo give to his little sword?

154-181

How did Bilbo get the spiders attention?

Bilbo's song about the spiders was meant to get them to follow him, write a song for yourself as if you were in Bilbo's place.

When Bilbo told the dwarves about the ring how did they react?

Who was missing from the party?

What had happened to the Thorin Oakenshield?

Why didn't Bilbo enjoy the Elvenkings palace?

Why were the dwarves not please with Bilbo's escape idea?

What was the name of the butler?

What was the problem with Bilbo's escape plan?

182-202

Where was the raft taking them?

Why did the people start singing the 'old songs'?

Why was the master not sorry to see them leave?

What were the names of the mountain and the town they were heading for?

Who's job was it to be sitting on the doorstep and thinking?

What was the thrush doing?

203-229

Who volunteered to accompany Bilbo into the dark doorway?

Why was Smaug described as a 'vast red-golden dragon'?

What did Bilbo take back to the dwarves?

What happened when Smaug awoke?

What did Bilbo's father used to say about worms>

What were the first words that Smaug spoke to Bilbo?

What did Bilbo discover about Smaug's belly?

What was the Arkenstone?

What did Bilbo do with it?

230-257

What was the food 'cram' like?

Who was Bard's descended from?

Who told Bard of the dragon's weakness?

What colour was the arrow that killed Smaug?

Who was Roac son of Carc?

Why did Thorin shoot an arrow at the speaker?

Who did Bilbo relieve from his watch?

Who was Bilbo delighted to see in the camp?

258-285

What happened when Thorin wished he had Gandalf there?

Which relative was Thorin waiting for?

Who were the armies in the 'Battle of Five Armies'?

Why couldn't the searchers find Bilbo?

Why did Bilbo cry until his eyes were red and his throat was hoarse?

Which other dwarves died?

Why do you think Bilbo wanted so much to get home?

What was Bilbo going to call his memoirs?

 




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