Ivan the Remarkable True Story Activities

Elementary students need to know their voice matters. They must understand that their opinion, thoughts, and beliefs are important. However, this understanding comes with practice, time, and exposure. Since it takes a lot of confidence to speak up for what is right, it is helpful to show true stories of this happening. This is exactly why this Ivan the Remarkable book review and activities is the perfect narrative nonfiction picture book to add to lessons! Honestly, the true story of Ivan the Remarkable will show how using our voices is a powerful way to make positive changes. 

ivan-the-remarkable- activities

Ivan the Remarkable True Story 

Author Katherine Applegate and illustrator G. Brian Karas created an extraordinary story on the true story of an amazing gorilla. 

Sadly, Ivan has spent almost all of his life in a shopping mall to attract shoppers. He barely remembers life outside of a small cage anymore. However, people of all ages begin to raise awareness for Ivan’s treatment. After 27 years, Ivan finally gets to have more freedom! Readers will love to see his new journey in life after moving into a zoo. 

This is an incredible book to raise awareness of animal welfare and standing up for what is right. 

Book Activities 

Honestly, our students are the future of the world. They are the doctors, lawyers, architects, construction workers, and electricians. This is exactly why it is vital that they learn to speak up for what they are passionate about. Thankfully, all of the book activities below will show students the power of their voices.

Ivan the Remarkable True Story Literature Unit 

This unit is perfect for 2nd-4th grade! There are so many literary activities and a flip book to help students work on literary skills. For instance, students will work on character, setting, and plot. Additionally, they will focus on sequencing, opinion writing, vocabulary, fact/opinion, and compare/contrast. Truly, this literary companion is an amazing tool to use when teaching students about empathy and strength. Ivan the Remarkable is a true story students will never forget. 


Discussion Questions

A key part of developing a classroom environment is building relationships. Students need to know they can talk to each other and be open with their thoughts. Discussion questions are a great tool to help students do this! For instance, they show students the importance of respect. However, the discussion also allows students to see it is okay not to just agree with each other. When they disagree, they can share why and respect the differences. Since this nonfiction narrative book is a true story, there are several options to discuss that reflect real situations. 

Examples include:

Should people be able to purchase wild animals? Why or why not?

Why was the zoo a better home for Ivan than the mall?

The last line of the book states, “In leafy calm, in gentle arms, a gorilla’s life began again.”  What do you think this means?

How would you have felt seeing a gorilla kept in a small cage?


Classroom Service Project 

Without caring citizens, Ivan would have spent the rest of his life in the mall. However, people spoke up for what was right and got him more freedom. Chances are that there is something in your community that needs additional support. For instance, does the Buddy Bench on the playground need some work? Or, is there a lot of trash on the school grounds? It is the perfect time to work on a positive change after reading Ivan the Remarkable! Students can even brainstorm options together. Then, they can come together to give back to their school and community.

Gorilla Research with Ivan the Remarkable True Story

After using the Ivan the Remarkable Literature Unit, students will have a strong understanding of key literary skills. Therefore, it is the perfect time to take their knowledge further. Depending on their age, they can explore a few websites, read a few books, or look at pictures of gorillas. Then, they can compare that information to the environment Ivan lived in at the mall. Students can complete a written response about why the mall was not the right environment for a gorilla. Honestly, this is a great way to help students understand the importance of respecting animal rights.

Ivan the Remarkable is a powerful true story. While it is heartbreaking, it is vital for students to learn about issues and events around the world. Additionally, it is essential they learn their voices matter, and they are capable of making positive changes. Thankfully, this Ivan the Remarkable book review and activities list provides several ways students can learn this through the help and support of an amazing class! 

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I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

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