Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Growing Pains of the Yearling

Mary Borges
Santa Rosa District Schools


Language arts and/or social studies students will study the characters, themes, motivations, and background of pioneer Florida life through video lessons on the novel [The Yearling] by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.


The student drafts and revises writing that: is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation; has an organizational pattern that provides for a logical progression of ideas; has effective use of transitional devices that contribute to a sense of completeness; has support that is substantial, specific, relevant, and concrete; demonstrates a commitment to and involvement with the subject; uses creative writing strategies as appropriate to the purpose of the paper; demonstrates a mature command of language with precision of expression; has varied sentence structure; and has few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

The student describes, evaluates, and expands personal preferences in listening to fiction, drama, literary nonfiction, and informational presentations.

The student determines main concept and supporting details in order to analyze and evaluate non print media messages.

Analyzes the effectiveness of complex elements of plot such as setting, major events, problems, conflicts and resolutions

The student understands how social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors contribute to the dynamic nature of regions.

The student understands past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction and their impact on physical and human systems.


-[The Yearling] video (1946 MGM version starring Gregory Peck & Jane Wyman)
-Lecture notes on the life of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, central Florida, and cracker life in the late 1880s (information may be found online at noted web links)
-Overhead Transparencies for lecture and daily writing assignments
-Student-provided paper and pens for writing
-Final test copies for all students


1) Obtain video and TV/VCR.
2) Prepare lecture.
3) Make Assignment Transparencies or write the assignments daily on the board or overhead.
4) Make test copies.


Begin the unit by asking, “How is life today in Florida different than it was 100 or 150 years ago?” Lead a brief discussion. “In what ways are the people different?” Then, “How are people the same today as they were in the pioneer days?” After the students have discussed/debated this, introduce the video literature unit that you are about to teach.
Then, background information must be given on cracker rural life in 19th century Florida and the biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, with emphasis on her contributions to literature, history, and a beginning environmental awareness in Florida. In a lecture and discussion period of 20-30 minutes, provide students with this information, going into enough detail to suit the grade level of the class. (The students should take notes, or you provide a note handout for study.) Conclude the introduction session by providing the students with information about the novel’s origin, the Pulitzer Prize in 1938, and the 1946 motion picture which won the “Best Cinematography” academy award and acting award nominations for Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, and child actor Claude Jarman, Jr. You may want to give them or show a map which locates Cross Creek, Florida. (See web link.) Point out what better-known places are in the Alachua County area now and how much things have changed since Rawlings lived there.
Instruct the students to come to class this week prepared with paper and blue or black pens for writing. Point out what parts of your lecture today will be included on the final test and that with the majority of the study provided in class on video, attendance daily is important.

VIDEO DAY ONE – Prepare the students for viewing by telling them that after today’s segment, they will be asked to respond to an essay question in writing for a daily grade. They should listen to the introductory monologue and to names of people and places in the story so that they may write effectively without assistance. Show 30 minutes of the video. Stop it at the end of the father-son talk at night. Then put up the Day One Assignment for them to copy and complete. (See attached file for all assignments.)
VIDEO DAY TWO – Show 25 minutes of the video. Stop it after the town fight. Then display the Day Two Assignment.
VIDEO DAY THREE – Show 40 minutes of the video. (Time today will be tight, so begin immediately.) Stop the video after the rain and “Here comes the sun.” Then display the Day Three Assignment. After the students have completed the assignment, orally review what has been studied so far for the final day’s test and generate discussion about the themes in the story. You may want to make the review into a game of your choice for variety.
VIDEO DAY FOUR AND TEST– Show the last 35 minutes of the video. Make the Day Four Assignment part of your daily work as before, followed by study time and the test, or use the Day Four Writing as half of your test grade. Follow this assignment with the 20-question test on the week’s study. (See attached file.)


Students submit daily written responses to essay questions based on the portion of the video viewed. The student responses are essay questions that are assessed as -Read, Think, Explain- four-point questions in FCAT. On the final day, the students will take and pass a multiple choice test (similar to FCAT one-point questions) on the last day of the week’s study. Day Four's Essay Question can also be used as an FCAT Writing Practice for 50% of their final score this day. (See attached file for daily assignments and suggested test.)


This lesson may be used in language arts and/or social studies as an interdisciplinary unit. The subject matter is suitable for both middle and high school students. Advanced level English or media classes might want to include discussions on how the 1940’s style of movie differs from movies made today.

Web Links

Web supplement for Growing Pains of the Yearling
MKR Society Web Site (University of Florida)

Web supplement for Growing Pains of the Yearling
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan, Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000

Attached Files

The attached document contains daily assignments and a final test.     File Extension: pdf

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