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Copyright 1997

Created by Brian Thornton

Click here for more information Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA. POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved

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Old Yeller

Fred Gipson

Student Study Guide


All answers must be in sentence form.

Chapter 1

  1. When does the story take place?
  2. Where does the story take place?
  3. Why is the father leaving?
  4. Name the two boys in the story?
  5. Who is telling the story?
  6. Who was Bell and what happened to him?
  7. Who was Jumper and how does Travis make him behave?

Vocabulary: dingy, writhing, dun, mule

Enrichment: Create a title page for Old Yeller.  Make an illustrated bookmark for your book and use it!


Chapter 2

  1. Describe Old Yeller’s appearance.
  2. Does his appearance reveal anything to us?
  3. How does Arliss react when he first sees the dog?
  4. What decision does Mama make concerning the dog? Why?

Vocabulary: bobbed, clout, sober, doe

Enrichment: Write a short biography on the author, Fred Gipson.

Write an imaginary letter to Fred Gipson and display it and those of your classmates on a bulletin board.


Chapter 3

  1. What advice had Papa given Travis about hunting?
  2. What are the Salt Licks and why are they important?
  3. Why did Travis refuse to shoot at the javelina hogs?
  4. What game does Travis finally kill?

Vocabulary: withers, wallowing, sulk

Enrichment: Write a paragraph or two outlining your feelings about hunting. Do you approve or disapprove? Is hunting ever a good thing?

Pretend you are one of the main characters and keep a journal making one entry for every chapter you read.  Share your work with a classmate.


Chapter 4

  1. Why were the two bulls fighting?
  2. What happens when Travis attempts to get Old Yeller to help?
  3. Describe two comical events that happen with the old cart?

Vocabulary: roan, bullwhip, canyons, boars, knoll, talow, broadside, hilt, astride, reeking, braided, aggravated, heave, careened

Enrichment: How might the novel have been different if it was told from the mother's perspective? Would the story have been improved?

Research the Commanche and the Apache Indians.  Make a presentation to your classmates.


Chapter 5

  1. What was Arliss in the habit of doing?
  2. Why did his mother punish him when she found the baby copperhead?
  3. Why did the mother bear attack Arliss?

Vocabulary: copperhead, tortilla, fib, wedges, frantic, prowl, lunging, rowdy

Enrichment: Research copperhead snakes.  List some of the venomous snakes you would find in the United States and Canada?


Chapter 6

  1. How did Travis’ feelings about Old Yeller change after the bear attack?
  2. Why was Mama puzzled when Old Yeller wouldn’t eat any of the gobbler?
  3. Describe Bud Searcy’s appearance.
  4. Who was Lisbeth and what did she reveal to Travis?
  5. What does hydrophobia mean and what word do we normally use for this disease today?

Vocabulary: rout, briars, colt, sumptuous, watercress, solemn, roost, mauled

Enrichment: Research hydrophobia.

    Where is the disease most prevalent?
    How is it treated?
    Who Louis Pasteur?
    What animals are most likely to contract this disease?

Assume the role of one of the characters and dress in period costume.  Allow yourself to be interviewed by your classmates.  Have someone write up the interview and publish it in a school newspaper.


Chapter 7

  1. Describe the various methods Travis used in his attempts to keep Old Yeller from wandering off at night.
  2. Why did Travis and Old Yeller sleep in the corn patch?
  3. How does Old Yeller fight the heifer?
  4. Why does Travis "nearly die" at the end of the chapter?

Vocabulary: rogue, mange, shucks, wallow, heifer

Enrichment: Suggest some alternative titles for the novel. How might an author choose a title for his novel. Some publishers recommend that an author change the original title of their book. Why might the publishers do this?


Chapter 8

  1. Who was Burn Sanderson?
  2. Why was Travis angry with Bud Searcy?
  3. What kind of a trade did Mr. Sanderson make with Arliss?
  4. Why did Travis want to "get out of sight in a hurry"?
  5. As Burn Sanderson is leaving what warning does he give Travis Coates?

Vocabulary: flank, commotion,venison, bits, plague, sterness

Enrichment: What large game animals are indigenous to your region?

Design and paint a mural with a group of your classmates.  Prior to beginning your work of art, it is important to discuss what events you deem worthy of being depicted in your mural.


Chapter 9

  1. Why did most of the hog owners keep four or five old barrows to run with the sows?
  2. How did Travis mark the pigs born that year?
  3. Why did Travis have to stay in the tree after he had marked the pigs?

Vocabulary: drooling, drought, shoat, sows, tushes, whetted, gnarled, castration

Enrichment: Are farm animals still marked or branded today? Check with some local farmers or ranchers?

Make a life size papier mache or poster of a character from the novel.  You may even wish to do Old Yeller.


Chapter 10

  1. How did Travis keep track of how many pigs had been born that year?
  2. What did Bud Searcy tell Travis Coates when he visited their home?
  3. What happened to Travis when he tried to catch the second pig?
  4. What happened to Old Yeller when he tried to intervene?
  5. Why did Travis decide to leave Old Yeller behind? What would you have done?

Vocabulary: prickly pear, shabby, entrails, mournful

Enrichment: Find out how dogs have been used by civilization over the years.

Watch the video of Old Yeller and compare it to the novel. What is different? What is similar? Which did you prefer?


Chapter 11

  1. How did Mama clean and treat Travis’ wound?
  2. Why does Travis insist on going back to Old Yeller?
  3. What does Mama use for thread to sew up Old Yeller’s wound?
  4. Why does Mama send Arliss to look for a green lizard?
  5. What are the signs at the end of the chapter that Travis’ leg has worsened?

Vocabulary: coil, buzzard, flinch

Enrichment: Research correct poster design and then design a poster for your classroom or school library to promote the book.

How would medical doctors treat Travis’ wound today? Would they agree with the method his mother used to treat the wound?


Chapter 12

  1. Describe the device Mama used to keep Jumper away from the corn.
  2. How did Travis react to another visit from Bud Searcy?
  3. How do Mama and Travis react when Mr. Searcy offers to leave Lisbeth behind to help out their family?

Vocabulary: butter churn, binding, poultice, drouth, puny, fretful

Enrichment: The author often makes use of dialogue in this story. Rewrite the following words in contemporary English.

  1. brung
  2. doncha
  3. whatcha


Chapter 13

  1. What are some of the signs that Lisbeth was a good helper?
  2. Describe the actions of Spot and the roan bull during the next few days.
  3. What is Travis forced to do at the end of the chapter?

Vocabulary: tote, nettles, blatting

Enrichment: Write down what you think the roles of women would have been in pioneer society. Then research the roles of pioneer women and young girls in the 1860's. How accurate were your predictions?

Write a summary of Old Yeller and create a webpage where you can display it.


Chapter 14

  1. Give two reasons why they had to remove the carcass.
  2. What is meant by the expression, "I knew he wasn’t throwing off"?
  3. What were they forced to do when they couldn’t move the bull?
  4. Explain what happened to Spot?

Vocabulary: foul, carcass, varmint, haunches, trace, stench, hideous, frayed, shedding

Enrichment: Pretend you are Travis. Write a letter to your father outlining how things are going on the farm during his absence.

Give a book talk about Old Yeller to another classroom in your school


Chapter 15

  1. Why does Travis start to worry about Mama and Lisbeth?
  2. What instructions does Mama shout out to Travis?
  3. What horrific scene unfolds in front of the cabin?
  4. What does Mama reluctantly offer to do if Travis can’t?
  5. How did you feel at the end of this chapter?
  6. Do you think you would have been able to do what Travis did?

Vocabulary: fussy, cornbread, recollected, hamstring, shuddered, muzzle

Enrichment: Describe something difficult that you have had to do in your life. Outline why it was such a difficult task for you. Were you able to complete the task?

Write a poem about Old Yeller and have the class publish them in an Anthology of Poems.


Chapter 16

  1. What does Papa bring for Travis?
  2. Summarize what Papa tells Travis about life?
  3. Why is it exactly that Travis begins to feel better?
  4. Describe your favourite part of the story?

Vocabulary: romped, speckled, clamped, frazzle

Enrichment: Can you think of a different ending that might have improved the story?

Who was your favourite character?  Explain why.

Culminate the story with your very own class pioneer dinner with all the trimmings.  Make sure to bake up some delicious cornbread and make your very own butter from cream.

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Copyright 1997

Created by Brian Thornton, Capo Creations, Box 1411, Haileybury, Ontario, CANADA. POJ 1KO

Not to be used or copied in any manner without specific written consent of the publisher All Rights Reserved

Click here for a complete list of the novels