Classroom Activities On “Bud Not Buddy”

There are many classroom activities that are both engaging and entertaining for the novel “Bud, Not Buddy.”

“Bud, Not Buddy” is the story of an African American boy who lives in Michigan during the Great Depression. The novel recounts the adventures of Bud after he escapes a foster home in search of his family. This novel is appropriate for the middle school level, ages 13 to 15. Because the novel is rich in history, there are many classroom activities that can cover the thematic elements of the book while teaching the historical significance of The Great Depression.

Jazz Music

Many people relied on music to help them through the tough times of The Great Depression. Pick some popular jazz musicians, such as Billie Holiday or Betty Carter. Play a couple of songs from these artists and include the lyrics for students to follow along. Then, use a graphic organizer, such as a Venn Diagram, and have the students compare that style of music to today’s characteristics. After students have made a list, have them write a short response on the power of music for people today compared to the time period of the novel.

Research Project

Before beginning the novel, ask students to research The Great Depression. This project can be brief and last only one class period; alternatively, it can be lengthy and take several days. Students can spend a day researching in the library then summarize their findings in a short report, or they can locate and interview a relative or family friend that survived The Great Depression. However you decide to classify the research, students will still be able to produce a variety of products from their research, such as a time line, transcript, essay or PowerPoint. Give the students time to present their findings to the class.

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Food Drive

Because the main character, Bud, is homeless, he is often in search of a warm meal. Use this opportunity to educate your students on the food banks and homeless shelters in your area. Arrange a tour or organize a food drive to provide students the first-hand experience of homelessness and hunger. Have students collect canned goods and take them to the food bank. Get permission for a class or school contest to encourage students to donate. After the project is completed, have students write a reflection paper about the experience.

Rules For Survival

In the novel Bud has his “Rules for Survival” that help keep him alive. Have the students create and write their own rules. You can further define the context of the rules. For example, students could write a “Rules for Survival in 8th Grade” or “Rules for Survival at Northern Middle School.” Let the students create their own ideas for what they feel they need to survive then have them present their finished projects to the class.