The Wind in the Willows

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The Wind in the Willows is a classic of children's literature by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. The novel is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie. (From
Curriculet Details
67 Questions
92 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in the eighth grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations and interactive videos explaining theme, tone and mood. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions related to point of view, diction, and structure. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - THE RIVER BANK

The Wind in the Willows was written quite a long time ago, in 1908. Below is a picture of the author, Kenneth Grahame, in 1910. (This annotation contains an image)
The first few pages of this story contain the exposition. During the exposition, the author introduces the setting and some important characters. It gives the reader a general idea about what the story will be about. Find "Exposition" on the plot diagram below.  (This annotation contains an image)
From the details in the text, you can tell that all of the characters are 
Please watch the first FOUR minutes of the video below. It is a reading of a slightly different version of the story and you will see some delightful illustrations. Prepare to answer a question about the video, too!  (This annotation contains a video)
In your opinion, was the recording that you just watched true to the first few pages of the story? Defend your answer with details. 
Watch the video clip below about making inferences. You should be making some inferences on your own already! (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the text, you can infer that ___ is ___. 
This is an illustration of Mole standing before the Wild Wood. How do the illustration's dark tones and drab colors make you feel about this place? (This annotation contains an image)
Notice that these animals are predatory creatures. Why might Mole want to avoid them? You can see a little weasel sunning himself in the photo below. (This annotation contains an image)
Some readers find visualization very helpful. You can see a map of the Wild Wood below. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlight words are an example of 
Did you know that you can easily look up the definition of any word in the text that you need help with? Select the word with your cursor to highlight it and choose the Define option that appears. 
This video will give you some information about the Fantasy genre. Keep it in mind as you answer the text question.  (This annotation contains a video)
The detail that ______ is an indicator of the story's ______, and being of this genre greatly affects the entire story. 
This is a reference to the title of the book. Could the sound of the wind rushing through the plants have a deeper meaning? 

Chapter 2 - THE OPEN ROAD

The inclusion of the song "Duck's Ditty" helps to reveal aspects of Rat's character. Which of the following is NOT an aspect of Rat's character that the song helps to reveal? 
This is an example of INDIRECT characterization. The author uses other characters' opinions of Toad to describe his character. If he was using DIRECT characterization, the author would state aspects of Toad outright instead of speaking though a character. The slide below gives more information about indirect characterization. (This annotation contains an image)
This is an artist's rendition of some of the characters gathered at Toad Hall. (This annotation contains an image)
Which option BEST describes how the highlighted dialogue contributes to the story? 
Toad shows his new caravan to Rat and Mole. (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator of this character is a third person narrator. He or she is not a character in the story. He or she also has access to the thoughts and feelings of all the characters. This means that our third person narrator is omniscient. Keep this information in mind for the following question.  (This annotation contains an image)
As the reader of this story, you have access to this scene from an omniscient point of view. Pick one of the characters in this scene (Rat, Mole, or Toad) and explain how the scene would be different if you only had access to that character's point of view. 
Keep the contents of this video in mind as you continue to read the chapter. (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted text contributes to the story by 
Remember that this story was written in the early 1900s. It would not have been uncommon during that time for both motorized vehicles and horse-powered transportation to be traveling down the same roads. What does the author seem to think about motorized vehicles? If you read carefully, sometimes an author's personal opinions can be inferred from the text. 
Toad seems to be  
Do you know someone like Toad who spends a lot of time worrying about having the best of everything? Is a person ever truly happy if they want what they don't have? 

Chapter 3 - THE WILD WOOD

In this context, chapter refers to  
In the highlighted text, dog-rose and comfrey (a type of herb) are being personified. Watch the video to review personification. (This annotation contains a video)
The purple flowers that you see are willow-herb. (This annotation contains an image)
Click the link below to watch this scene in a film adaptation and consider how it compares to what you have been picturing in your head. (This annotation contains a link)
The highlighted line propels the action in the story because 
This is a tense scene. To learn more about how an author uses tension, watch the video below.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which word in the highlighted sentence adds to the tension in the scene? 
Another text which depicts a forest in the snow is Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. Click the link below to read the poem. Frost writes about a topic similar to what is happening in this scene, the structure is different. Describe the structure Frost uses in his text and compare it to the structure of this scene in The Wind and the Willows.  
Are you good at writing summaries? The video below can help. (This annotation contains a video)
If you were to write a summary about the time that Rat and Mole have spent in the Wild Wood so far, which detail would be the most important to include? 

Chapter 4 - MR. BADGER

Watch the first 90 seconds of this clip to be introduced to Mr. Badger. Is he as gruff as you originally pictured him? (This annotation contains a video)
Which option best summarizes Mole's first encounter with Mr. Badger? 
Which of the following words is the best synonym (word with the same meaning as) assent? 
Watch the following video about tone and mood and try to consider these two aspects of the text as you continue to read along. (This annotation contains a video)
When developing the characters, the author of the novel took into consideration some of the natural characteristic that his fantasy creatures would have if they were regular, realistic animals. Badgers do not hibernate. However, they become more sedentary and stay underground for longer periods of time during the winter.  (This annotation contains an image)
Think back to the video about tone and mood. What kind tone is evident in Otter's dialogue on this page? Use the text to support your answer. 
Humor is achieved in the highlighted text partially because of the third-person point of view. The reader knows that Otter winks to Mole and this indicates that he is making a teasing comment. The hedgehogs do not realize that the comment is a joke and they feel a little self-conscious. This about how this scene would be different if it were written in the first-person point of view from the perspective of one of the hedgehogs. 
The highlighted text reveals new information about the ____ of the story, which is sometimes referred to as the "silent character." 
Do you see any themes emerging in the story thus far? The video below may help.  (This annotation contains a video)
What theme emerges when Badger explains how to Wild Wood came to be? 
This book has some qualities of pastoral literature. The characters have simple lives and live in harmony with nature. Check out the definition of "pastoral" by clicking the link below: (This annotation contains a link)
Quiz One: Chapters 1-4 

Chapter 5 - DULCE DOMUM

The title of this chapter means "sweet home" in Latin. What do you think this section of the text will be about? 
Which choice best explains the meaning of the highlighted text? 
Another theme is emerging. It has appeared in the story before, but it is becoming more prominent. Can you tell what it is? 
This is another example of INDIRECT characterization. The author is showing you through Mole's actions (refusal to abandon Rat) that he is a loyal friend. Mole has been characterized this way earlier in the story as well. 
This is an example of dramatic irony. The reader knows something that one of the characters (Rat) does not know. Watch the video to learn more about dramatic irony and prepare to answer a question.  (This annotation contains a video)
Please explain how the point of view of this story creates dramatic irony in this scene. 
Real moles have poor eyesight and often rely on their little snouts to tell them what is around them. To learn more about moles, check out the following article from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. They are actually quite interesting and cute. (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Mole say these lines? 
Click the link below to watch a clip of this scene from a film adaptation which uses human actors. Pay special attention to Rat's behavior. (This annotation contains a link)
How accurately is this scene portrayed in the film adaptation you just watched? Explain your answer. Which version of the scene do you prefer and why? 
The author's choice to use rhyming words add to the ______ tone of the carol and the ______ mood of the scene. 
This is an illustration of the singing field mice at Mole's home. (This annotation contains an image)
As evidenced by this particular scene, which quality seems to be very important to the characters in the story? 
Mole has proven himself to be a good friend. Would you say the same of Rat? Are these two characters mostly alike or different in their personalities? 
Which theme in the story does the highlighted text contribute to? Hint: this chapter as a whole focused a lot on the theme. 

Chapter 6 - MR. TOAD

This line of the text is included to 
As you read the scene, keep in mind that Toad's friends are very concerned about his driving habits. 
What does the "twinkle" in Toad's eye represent? What does this detail indicate about Toad and what may happen soon? 
Friendship is certainly an important theme in this book. Does a true friend sometimes act against his or her friend's wishes? 
What evidence supports the idea that Toad is plotting something? 
Toad is trying to make it seem like he is so sick, he may die soon and needs a lawyer to come and help him write his will. 
What aspect of Toad's character is revealed in this scene? 
Could this line be foreshadowing an incident that will happen soon? 
Are you familiar with onomatopoeia? Onomatopoeia is when an author uses words to imitate sound. The highlighted text is an example. Lots of stories and poems contain onomatopoeia.  (This annotation contains an image)
Describe how the author uses personification in this sentence. What is being personified and what does the personification show? 
"Cheek" refers to impudence, or being rude to the police in this case. The term is more commonly used this way in British English than in American English. 
Which of the following has not been directly clarified in the story before this line? 


The highlighted passage is an example of IMAGERY. The author is giving a detailed description to "paint a picture" of the scene. This particular example of imagery also relates to the theme of nature, which is woven into the story throughout the entire book. Please watch the video below and familiarize yourself with imagery.  (This annotation contains a video)
From the details in the story, you can infer that Portly is most likely  
The author continues to use a lot of imagery in this chapter. Do the detailed descriptions of the riverside make you feel almost as though you are there? Imagery can really bring a story to life and make it beautiful. 
What effect does the author's use of language have here? 
This seems to be a wild, magical, uncultivated place. The theme of nature is glorified in the details of the author's writing. 
The crab apple produces a small, sour fruit. (This annotation contains an image)
Sloe is a plant with edible berries. (This annotation contains an image)
Pan is the Greek god of the wild, shepherds, and rustic music. He certainly fits the pastoral theme of the novel. He plays an instrument called a pan flute, which is pictured below. The beautiful music that Rat and Mole heard must have been coming from this instrument. (This annotation contains an image)
There is a lot going on in this paragraph! The theme of nature is in the spotlight, the young otter has been found, and there is an allusion to the Greek god Pan. An allusion is when an author makes a reference to something commonly known outside of the text. The reference may be to another work of literature, to a historical figure, or to a famous place or event. 
Take a look at the author's language. What type of mood is created in this scene? Include an example of language in this scene that supports this mood. 
"Dumb" is an example of a multiple meaning word. As it is used here, it is a synonym for "silent." 
This is another reference to the title of the book. What do you think the sound of the wind blowing through the willows symbolizes? Watch this video to learn more about symbolism in literature.  (This annotation contains a video)
The musical sound of the wind rushing through the plants most likely symbolizes 


"Piebald" can be used to describe other animals besides mice. It refers to a spotted pattern. (This annotation contains an image)
Bubble-and-squeak is a popular English dish made from leftover vegetables. (This annotation contains an image)
The gaoler's daughter is _____ characterized as a _____ individual. 
If you have not already noticed, the author made an interesting decision when it comes to animals in this book. As is characteristic of many fantasy works, some of the animals in the story are sentient characters who act and think like people. However the author has included other animals in the plot which are not humanized. Think about the pigs in Toad's pig-styes and the pet canary. Does this unusual logic bother you, or do you have an easy time accepting it? 
Toad mistakenly thinks that the girl is admitting an embarrassing family secret. A washer woman would be considered part of England's lower class. 
The girl's tone can best be described as 
Name at least one way that the television adaptation differs from the book and at least one way that the two are the same. 
Click the link below to watch a clip from a television version of this scene. Be prepared to compare this version to what you have been reading. (This annotation contains a link)
Toad is consistently a clever, manipulative character who gets himself out of situations. So far, he appears to be a static character, with no internal change. A dynamic character is the opposite of a static character. A dynamic character goes through a major internal change. For example, a once happy character may have a bitter experience and become a miserable, cruel character. See if you can recognize any static or dynamic characters as you continue to read. 
Because the story is old from the third-person omniscient perspective instead of the third-person limited perspective, the reader 
The pace of the train and the serious danger faced by Toad both contribute to the tension in this scene. 
Quiz Two: Chapters 5-8 
The highlighted text is an example of 


Watch the video below if you need to review simile and metaphor. Then continue to the following question keeping these terms in mind. (This annotation contains a video)
What is being compared to a hotel in this line? Is the comparison a simile or a metaphor? 
This line shows a conflict faced by the animals; men and their machines are encroaching upon the natural world. This scene relates back to the theme of living simply and at peace with nature. 
What do the swallow's lines contribute to the story? 
Although it has a sort of a silly name, the cuckoo is a real bird! Play the video below for a few seconds. Afterwards, you will probably know how the bird got its name.  (This annotation contains a video)
"Wayfarer" is another way of saying that this individual is a wanderer. The author seems to be incorporating themes of adventure and travel into this chapter. How do these themes contrast with the main theme in Dolce Domum (Chapter 5)? 
What do the highlighted lines reveal about the wayfarer? 
Constantinople is the former name or Istanbul, Turkey. (This annotation contains an image)
Please explain what Rat is saying in the highlighted text using your own words. 
What is the wayfarer implying about his position on the ship? 
Having good manners and being a gracious host in his home seem to be very important to Rat. Earlier in the story, when ____ was a newcomer to the river, Rat showed him a lot of hospitality, too. 
"Dark doorways" and "stone steps" are both examples of alliteration. Whenever you see words close to one another that begin with the same consonant or sound, you are looking at an example of alliteration. For example, "Rat is a really reputable rodent" uses alliteration. 
Which phrase does NOT contribute to the idea that Rat is in a trance-like state? 
Mole is trying to remind his friend of the beauty of the natural world and the pleasurable experience of living a simple, pastoral life. 
What literary device is being used in the highlighted phrase? After giving your answer please write your very own example of that literary device. Hint: you just read about this device. 


How does the point of view shift with each chapter? 
Can you find the example of alliteration AND the example of personification in the highlighted sentence? 
Think back to what you have learned about dramatic irony. As the reader, you know more about Toad than the woman does from her perspective. Think about what you know that the woman does not and please explain how this difference in perspective adds humor to the story. 
Notice that there is some foreshadowing in the text. Even Toad seems to be nervous! What could this woman be up to? 
She must be asking Toad to wash her underwear! 
How does Toad feel about this "treat"? 
It seems that Toad's tricks have finally caught up with him; he has met his match. Do you feel sorry for Toad or do you think he got what he deserved for being deceitful?  
Toad's main character flaw throughout the story is his 
Toad must not be as smart as he thinks he is if he has to take the time to count the horse's legs. 
A shilling is a British denomination of coin which is no longer in circulation. A shilling was worth 1/20 of a pound, and a pound is equal to a little over a dollar and a half today. The man is only offering Toad about 25 cents for the horse.  (This annotation contains an image)
Click the link below and scroll down to read the section about rhyme schemes. It will help you answer a question soon.  (This annotation contains a link)
The rhyme scheme of this stanza is abcb. Remember that a stanza is a grouping of lines in a poem, similar to a paragraph. 
Follow the link below to read Said the Toad by J. Patrick Lewis. Then answer the following questions:A. How do the number of stanzas compare between the two poems?B. How do the rhyme schemes compare? Be sure to list the rhyme scheme of each poem. 
Remember that Toad has been a static character up until this point, so he is probably still up to his usual tricks. Why do you think he intends to sit in the front seat? 
The word ____ is a synonym for prudent. 
Once again, Toad's ego gets him into trouble. His absurd since of superiority can be considered a tragic flaw. A tragic flaw is a personality trait of a protagonist that leads to that character's downfall. 
What does this dialogue most likely reveal about Toad? 


Watch the television adaptation of this scene linked below and prepare to answer a question regarding it.  (This annotation contains a link)
How faithful is the television adaptation to the original story? Use evidence from the book and the film clip to support your answer. 
To have a "long purse" means to have a lot of money. This is an idiom, or a phrase which has a different meaning than what it literally states. You may know some other idioms, such as "raining cats and dogs" and "keep your nose to yourself." 
The highlighted text is an example of ______ and it helps the reader to imagine ______. 
Toad always claims to be sorry for his actions, but is he really sorry if he continues to fall back into his trouble-making habits? 
What does smart mean as it is used here? You may need to rely on context clues to find the answer. 
Is Toad really clever, or can all of his "feats" be simply attributed to luck? Toad is quite a character! 
What do these lines reveal about Badger? 
Toad never misses an opportunity to brag about himself. Can you find the idiom in the highlighted text? 
The rising action is the part of the plot in which conflicts are building and tension is gathering. The action will continue building until it reaches the climax, or peak, of the story. Take another look at the plot diagram to recognize where you are now.  (This annotation contains an image)
What is the setting of the current scene? 
Notice how the author uses irony here to create humor. 
What effect do you think Mole's lie will have on the weasels? What is he hoping to achieve? 
What is the animals' plan for taking back Toad Hall? Use a sentence or two to explain it. 


A cutlass is a type of short sword. (This annotation contains an image)
Weasels often have a negative connotation in literature. They also play villains in the popular fantasy series Redwall by Brian Jacques. If you enjoy reading books about animal characters such as The Wind in the Willows, this series would be an excellent choice for you!  (This annotation contains an image)
The speaker is using a ____ tone. 
Watch the first minute and a half of the video below to see the weasels at Toad Hall. (This annotation contains a video)
Which animal usually serves as a leader and mentor for the others? 
The title of this chapter, The Return of Ulysses, is another allusion made by the author. It is an allusion is to a famous literary hero who is known as "Odysseus" in Greek myths and "Ulysses" in Roman myths. He is the protagonist in the Illiad and the Odyssey, two works by the epic poet Homer. In the Odyssey, Ulysses returns home after a very long voyage. Who represents Ulysses in this chapter?  (This annotation contains an image)
What detail in the program tells you that Toad is still very egotistical?  
The climax of this story occurs when Toad's friends help him to take his home back from the villainous badgers. You are now in the falling action portion of the plot. 
What does the dialogue indicate about Rat? 
This is an artist's model of the banquet at Toad Hall. If Toad's home looks like this, it really is impressive! (This annotation contains an image)
Think about Toad's actions during the banquet. Read the previous paragraph over again if you need to.Is Toad a dynamic character or a static character? Use evidence from the text to support the answer that you choose. 
Quiz 3: Chapters 9-12 
Maybe the weasels are not so bad after all. The moral here seems to be that you should act like a respectable individual if you want to receive respect. 
The moral here seems to be that you should act like a respectable individual if you want to receive respect.