These engaging The Great Gatsby activities will get students discussing, analyzing, performing, creating, and debating. Some tasks require cooperative / collaborative groups.
- Primary Source Gallery: The Roaring Twenties
- Anticipation / Theme Subject Discussions
- Party Like Gatsby
- What Does Modernism Look Like?
- Despicable Them (social media)
- Eulogy for Gatsby
- Character Quotes Quiz
- Map Activity
- Character Monologue
- Judging a Cover by Its Book (graphic design)
The Great Gatsby Activities: Before Reading
Primary Source Gallery: The Roaring Twenties
Get students exploring historical context by having them apply critical thinking skills to primary source visuals. Each group will study, analyze, and research one primary source image from “The Roaring Twenties Gallery” in order to share their findings and analysis with the class. Students should feel free to “stray” into related sources and topics; the primary source visual is merely the catalyst.
Group presentations should explain…
- Relevant terms
- The subject and revealing details
- Context (How does it fit within the history of the era?)
- Purpose and audience (You may have to make reasonable guesses.)
- Informative details or connections from your research
- Possible connections to The Great Gatsby
Anticipation Guide / Theme Subject Discussions
How can you subtly introduce a novel’s theme subjects while still allowing the students to receive the author’s messages naturally as they read? Anticipation guides prompt thought-provoking discussions on key theme subjects without elucidating the ultimate themes developed by the text.
Students appreciate the opportunity to share their own views on life and human nature before considering the perspectives of the author. For example, students can discuss their opinions regarding wealth and privilege without knowing the corresponding message developed in The Great Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby Activities: While Reading
Party Like Gatsby
In this fun activity students compare two parties portrayed in the novel before planning their own Gatsby-inspired event. Begin by examining the juxtaposition of Tom / Myrtle’s party and Gatsby’s party which illustrates important differences between the respective hosts. Emphasize the extravagance of the Gatsby party by having students create a corresponding plan and budget in today’s dollars. Encourage students to think like Gatsby and include a novel activity or spectacle to make the event the talk of the town.
Fun clip: “Do not wear this to a Great Gatsby theme party.” (3 min.) from Vintagebursche
Fun clip: “The Great Gatsby Party 2018” (2 minutes) from The Capitale
Fun clip: “The Great Gatsby 2013 Party Scene” (5 minutes) from Warner Bros.
What Does Modernism Look Like?
Modernism in Fine Art – The Great Gatsby Activities
This activity explores the larger movement of Modernism and uses fine art to help students think about Modernism in literature. Each group analyzes an influential work and its context within the larger artistic movement. By the end of the activity, students make thematic and aesthetic connections to the The Great Gatsby.
Modernism (circa 1900-1950): A break with the past and a period of experimentation associated with the period after World War I. Modernists felt a growing alienation from Victorian morality, optimism, and convention. The horrors and consequences of WWI undermined humankind’s faith in the foundations of Western society. Modernists reflect a sense of disillusionment and fragmentation. Industrialization, urbanization, globalized capitalism, rapid social change, and advances in science, psychology, and political theory characterized the era. As a result, artists and writers explored new approaches and forms of expression.
We will visualize Modernism by analyzing examples of fine art. Start with a specific painting to guide your exploration. Be prepared to present the artwork with the class. Familiarize yourself with the work and explain the…
- Title and medium
- Author (and biography if relevant)
- Subject (and treatment)
- Artistic movement
- Modernism elements
- Message or Mood
- Techniques (creating emphasis)
- Related works or artists (This could include performances, architecture, consumer goods, etc.)
- Connections to The Great Gatsby (if possible)
Despicable Them (social media)
Despicable Them (social media) – The Great Gatsby Worksheets
This activity uses social media as a hook to get students analyzing characterization and delineating theme development. By this point in the novel study, students should recognize the connections between specific characters and the development of specific themes. For example, Daisy’s complete rejection of personal responsibility (a perspective elucidated by Jordan) develops the overarching theme about privilege.
Warm-up: Some people believe that social media brings out the worst in people. What do you think? Explain your views on the beneficial and detrimental effects of social media.
Choose one character to analyze. Then create social media posts in their name.
- Nick Carraway
- Jay Gatsby
- Daisy Buchanan
- Tom Buchanan
- Myrtle Wilson
- Jordan Baker
Tip: It is easy to create a reaction post. Perhaps the character is reflecting on an event in the novel, opining on a current event, reviewing a movie, or critiquing a restaurant.
Wrap-up: What does Fitzgerald want to show us through this character? What is the connected theme subject? What is the ultimate message?
Eulogy for Gatsby
Challenge students to add meaning and reflection to Jay Gatsby’s funeral by composing a eulogy. In this activity they will need to demonstrate mastery of point of view and incorporate effective public speaking devices. Whether the student takes a tone that is somber or inspirational or melodramatic or irreverent, this is an excellent opportunity to practice public speaking.
Eulogy point of view options:
- The reader
- Tom Buchanan
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (authorial intrusion!)
- Gatsby’s ghost (Why not?)
- A minister
- Henry C. Gatz (father)
- Owl Eyes
Character Quotes Quiz
This The Great Gatsby activity comes from the larger lesson on foil characters. Some of the statements apply to multiple characters while others are specific to a single character. You can use the list of character statements in a variety of ways.
One fun approach is to have students respond physically. Have students wear nametags for the character that they will represent. Form a large circle in the classroom and instruct the students to move into the middle of the circle (and face the outer circle) when they conclude that the statement applies to them. Try to reach agreement as a class though discussion (e.g., all of the Toms are in the center for statement X).
The Great Gatsby Activities: After Reading
Fitzgerald uses the locations in The Great Gatsby as thematic elements. The landscape reflects what Maureen Corrigan calls “…an inner geography of yearning.” The settings are more than just places for the events to occur; the locations add layers of relationship and meaning.
Whether we identify the geography of the novel as symbolic or as a motif is unimportant. (Does an amusement park symbolize fun or is it simply a place where fun happens?) What matters is understanding how Fitzgerald uses the geography to specific effects.
Create a map illustrating the role of geography in The Great Gatsby. Include visuals (images, icons, symbols, etc.) to represent the settings and make connections. Each location should include an image, an excerpt, and an explanation of its importance. Your visual aid must illustrate how the geography of the novel interacts with and develops other elements.
Related Post: Top 10 The Great Gatsby Project Ideas
Monologue PDF: The Great Gatsby Activity High School
Fitzgerald’s memorable characters drive the plot and develop his themes. Surely these carefully crafted individuals all have unique points of view, but the narration of the novel limits the reader to Nick’s biased perspective.
This creative activity provides the other characters a chance to speak for themselves — a chance to bypass Nick’s interpretations and speak out to the world.
Demonstrate your understanding of point of view and characterization in The Great Gatsby through creative writing and performance. Write a monologue (a long speech by one character) for a selected character at specific point in their life’s story. For example, you might give Daisy a chance to explain why she does not feel any guilt after the death of Myrtle.
Judging a Cover by Its Book
The first edition of The Great Gatsby showcases a unique collaboration. Fitzgerald selected the art for the book jacket as he was writing and told his editor, “Don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me, I’ve written it into the book.” Despite this contribution, the artist, Francis Cugat, received only $100 for his vision.
Provide the cover for a new edition by creating original art inspired by The Great Gatsby. You might make a sketch, collage, graphic design, painting, photograph, or sculpture. Choose elements from the novel (theme, image, symbol, allusion, setting, character, event, etc.) to explore in your art. Be prepared to exhibit in the classroom.
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These engaging The Great Gatsby activities will get students discussing, analyzing, performing, creating, and debating. The activities and worksheets come from the TeachNovels.com resource and are intended for the high school classroom. If you found any of these activities / worksheets helpful, consider using the comprehensive novel unit.