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Free Resources for 1984

Updated: Nov 18

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1984. What can I say about this book? I read it once and was like "ugh." Then I got assigned 10 Intensified and had to teach it as part of the curriculum, which I wasn't looking forward to. But let me tell you-this book creeps the fuck out of kids and I LOVE IT. It's so fun to teach...and, unfortunately, relevant for the times.

I always had a hard time teaching 1984 because I could never settle on one theme to focus on. I finally gave up and just let the unit go in every which direction by the time we got to the end. The last time I taught 1984 wasssss a long time ago-maybe 2015?, so there are probably so many better materials that came out between 2016 and 2020. Regardless, below you will find some of the basic activities & charts that you will need to get moving. The materials are in the general order that I used them. My favorite activities were always the mood analysis and the book cover. I hope you enjoy these free resources for 1984!

Before Reading Activities

At the very start of the unit, before I even talk about dystopias or the book specifically, I try and get the kids thinking about surveillance societies and where they exist. To do this, I always started with this map activity where I had kids color in a map of the world according to levels of surveillance. They would color a country black if they thought there were high levels of surveillance, and blue if they thought they were low levels, and then everything in between. Inevitably, during this activity, kids will say something along the lines of "North Korea and Russia are surveillance societies...not the US." Once all the kids were dong coloring their maps, I would then reveal the actual map with the answers and kids would see that surveillance in the US is endemic...our government just hides it a little better. I always felt it was important to start this way because kids will always dismiss 1984 as "a book about North Korea" unless I shake that thought a bit at the beginning of the unit.

Here are the map activity directions & handouts;

After the map activity, I would then get into more specifics about dystopias, 1984, and surveillance in the US.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

After Reading

For the satire analysis, we watched an episode of Black Mirror titled "Nosedive" (I had to censor the ending to make it school appropriate but it was great fun to watch, otherwise.) If your school has strict viewing rules, I've also used Wall-E.

1984 Essay Materials: Compare "US to 1984"

(2018 essay)

1984 Essay Materials: Research "Societal Controls in US to 1984" (2016 essay)

Great Choice Books That Connect to 1984

Depending on the year, I sometimes have time for the kids to read a dystopian choice book. The choices are myriad but here are a few that my kids have enjoyed over the years.

Other Connections to 1984

This novel is written from Julia's point of view. I have not read it yet but it got great reviews in The Washington Post. Let me know your thoughts!

So as I mentioned earlier, a 1984 unit could go in 100 directions. I hope these free resources for 1984 are enough to get you started. If you have an 1984 materials that you would like to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section.

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