Designing Museum Exhibits for The Grapes of Wrath: A Multigenre Project

As students read The Grapes of Wrath, many important issues from the depression era surface. This unit asks students to focus on one issue as it applies to the novel. Working alone or with a partner, students create artifacts in a variety of genres for a museum exhibit that will demonstrate important facts about the research topic and its significance to viewers. This unit begins with a brief overview of the Great Depression and Dust Bowl before students conduct research using an online tool. They then explore an online, interactive museum to gather ideas for their own exhibits. After reading the novel, they create exhibits using artifacts that represent issues from the novel and then display them for the class and/or school and community.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3003.4.2
Gather relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources, as well as from direct observation, interviews, and surveys.
CLE 3003.7.1
Evaluate the aural, visual, and written images and other special effects used in television, radio, film, and the Internet for their ability to inform,...
CLE 3003.7.4
Apply and adapt the principles of written composition to create coherent media productions.
CLE 3003.8.4
Analyze works of American literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
GLE 0501.8.1
Use previously learned comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical period. 
  • conduct research on the Depression era, using primary and secondary print and Internet sources. 
  • synthesize information from multiple sources by identifying the complexities and inconsistencies in the information. 
  • integrate quotations and citations into a written text while maintaining the flow of ideas. 
  • compose texts in multiple genres that convey material found in their research. 
  • deliver expository (informational) notes on their research.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • To extend genre discussion through the reading of the novel, tap the ideas outlined in the English Journal article “Blending Multiple Genres in Theme Baskets,” which includes booklists that can be used for The Grapes of Wrath. 
  • Take students’ museum exhibits online by asking them to create a Website for their artifacts. Students can use The Promise of Freedom page as a model.

Helpful Hints


  • Copies of The Grapes of Wrath
  • What is a Genre Printout
  • Outline of Intercalary Chapters in The Grapes of Wrath Printout
  • Genre List Printout
  • Multigenre Museum Exhibits for The Grapes of Wrath Printout
  • Museum Exhibit Planning Printout
  • Museum Exhibit Rubric Printout
  • Blending Multiplte Genres in Theme Baskets Printout
  • A Teacher's Guide to the Penguin Edition of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath Printout