Because of Winn-Dixie (Hardcover) Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick, 2000. ISBN: 978-0763607760. pp: 184. Ages: 8-12, gr: 4-6
Paperback Student edition (2000) Scholastic. ISBN: 978-0439250726

Walden Media


The summer started as a lonely time of facing her losses for ten-year-old India Opal Buloni — the loss of her friends when she moved to a new town, and the loss of her mother who left when Opal was three. Her father is a nice man, but often preoccupied with his job as preacher. Opal finds an exceptionally friendly stray dog at the Winn-Dixie grocery store and everything changes for both of them. With the help of Winn-Dixie, Opal learns the likeable traits, and hidden sorrows, of others in her new hometown from five-year-old Sweetie Pie to the very old librarian Miss Fannie Block.


Reading, comprehension and vocabulary:
Language Arts (creative writing):
Opal wants to know about her Mother and prods her father into telling ten things about her. Write ten things about yourself. Make your sentences as descriptive as you can. Note to the teacher: Read aloud a couple of the things each student wrote. The rest of the students will try to guess who it is those things are describing.
Study skills/library skills - reference tools:
When the preacher tried the Littmus Lozenges, he said that the candy tasted melancholy. Make a list of different candies. After each write a word describing the mood that the candy represents. Use a Thesaurus to have a variety of "feelings" adjectives. Compare your list with others in the class. Why do things affect different people in different ways?
Teacher Kitty Roach sponsored a ThinkQuest Internet Project based on the book. Students in participating schools fed their dogs the Peanut Butter Dog and People Biscuits as well as biscuits from other recipes, all developed by her students. Each student rated the five recipes by observing and recording what his/her dog liked and didn’t like.
  1. Discuss the results. (younger students - rank from least to best liked; older students - figure the percent for each)
  2. Rewrite the recipe to make twice as many biscuits.
  3. Watch a video of students making the biscuits then use the recipe to make your own biscuits (if possible). Measure carefully.
Note to teacher: Be aware of students’ food allergies and accommodate for them when the others are eating the treats.
Gloria Dump and Opal throw a backyard party serving egg salad sandwiches, Dump Punch and pickles.
  1. What were the ingredients in the Dump Punch?
  2. What are the ingredients in egg salad sandwiches?
  3. Use grocery store ads to find the cost of these items.
  4. Make up math problems using the cost of these items and the number of people at the party.
  5. Role play purchasing the items at the Winn-Dixie store.
Winn-Dixie is afraid of thunderstorms. Use science books in your classroom and library to find out more about thunderstorms. Note to Teacher: Severe Weather Trackers has good background for the teacher in a unit for grade 1.
  • What kind of clouds produce thunderstorms?
  • How is a thunderstorm created?
  • What is thunder and lightning?
  • What should you do to stay safe in a thunderstorm? Note to Teacher: Stay Safe When Lightning Strikes lesson plan for K-2 (pdf)
Social Studies:
Miss Franny Block tells Opal about the experiences of Littmus Block in the Civil War.
  • What is the significance of Fort Sumter?
  • How old was Littmus when he enlisted? Why could he sign up at that early of an age?
  • What bad things happened to Littmus during the war?
  • Who are some of the heroes of the Civil War? Write one paragraph about an event or person of the Civil War. Read your paragraph to the class.
The party ended in a sing-along. Opal didn’t know a lot of songs but Otis could play about any song on his guitar once he heard it. Select some songs for a sing-along in your classroom. Hint: Be sure to try How Much Is That Doggie in the Window and I Want a Dog.
As a class, develop a list of interview questions students can ask to learn more about each other. With a partner, use these questions to interview each other. Put your whole name in the center of a large sheet of paper. Work with your partner to each create an "About Me" poster by drawing six to ten pictures around your name that show qualities discussed in the interview.

About the Author


More for the teacher

Links to other online guides for Because of Winn-Dixie.


Because of Winn-Dixie. Accelerated Reader: Quiz #39557 EN; Book Level 3.9; Points= 3.0
Book Adventure (Sylvan): Quiz Level 4
Reading Counts: Reading Level 4.1; Points= 7.0
Lexile Level 610
Guided Reading Level R
word count= 22331
Flesch/Kincaid 4.8