How To Teach Animal Farm

How To Teach
Animal Farm
How To Teach Animal Farm
Establishing context
• Animal Farm and The Communist Revolution
Orwell’s intention in writing Animal Farm was to present a critique of communism as it was
practised in 1930s and 40s USSR. To understand the book, then, students will need to
have some basic knowledge about the rise of communism in Russia in the first half of the
20th century. A good, basic and short introduction can be given to students with this 20
minute documentary from the show Timeline:
The above documentary should be watched with students before they read through the
book. As students read through Animal Farm, they can then fill out the attached
‘Communism and Animal Farm Parallels’. When students use this resource it’s important
to note: The order in which events happened historically in Russia aren’t necessarily the
order in which Orwell writes about them in Animal Farm. Students can use this resource
as a bookmark. By cutting up the different events from the timeline, they can insert these
into the sections of Animal Farm which they believe best correspond with the historical
As an initial activity, after reading through the book, students can combine elements from
each of these columns below to create statements about the text:
Animal Farm is a...
A Ticking Mind Resource
What Orwell
Orwell’s belief
Orwell’s view
Orwell’s perception
what Orwell sees
the hypocrisy of....
the oppression of...
the deeply flawed..
that the USSR is...
Exploring Characters
• Metaphorical and satirical characters
To understand characterisation in Animal Farm, students first need to think about the
purpose of satire and metaphor. To do this, we can start with an easy example. Students
should look through the resource ‘Pig Descriptions and Actions In Animal Farm’ and
divide these into two groups: Descriptions and actions which are funny/ridiculous and
descriptions and actions which are serious.
Explain to students that all of these actions and descriptions are metaphors, because a
metaphor is where you say one thing is another thing. For example, corrupt leaders are
greedy pigs.
However, some of the pig actions and descriptions are satirical because they make things
look funny or stupid. Ask students to look at the descriptions and actions of pigs. Which
thing is particularly ridiculous? Why?
We can then move on to explain to students that one basic point Orwell is making is that
human behaviour can be stupid and ridiculous. To show this, each animal in Animal Farm
metaphorically represents a “type” of person or group. For instance, Napoleon is a pig
who represents leaders with lots of power. He is shown to be ridiculous because he is so
greedy and so obviously corrupt. Students can think about what “type” of person each of
the other characters/animals in the book represents by creating a table such as this one:
What “type” or person do
they represent?
How does this animal
behave that is ridiculous?
Napoleon as leader is
incredibly selfish and
greedy like a pig. He is
ridiculous because he is so
obviously corrupt and
Students can use two attached resources to help them think about what each of the
characters in the novel represents: ‘Animal Farm Characters’ and ‘Animal Farm Character
Types and Actions’.
A Ticking Mind Resource