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The Phantom Tollbooth

Life Skills

  • Thinking & Reasoning
  • Communication


Weber District


The Phantom Tollbooth is a novel on the 5th or 6th reading level. This lesson plan follows the reading of this book as a class with assignment, vocabulary, and activity suggestions by chapter. This plan also includes art, reading, language, science, and social studies curriculum. There are 20 chapters in this book. Each chapter can take from 30 to 60 or more minutes, depending on time to read, amount of discussion following reading and which activities you choose to include.


Novel - "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster
Other materials needed for activities as outlined.

Background for Teachers

Teacher should have read the book before presenting the lessons to the students.
Use of the Internet is helpful in being able to search for additional ideas to be used as this book is read.

Student Prior Knowledge

We all know that it would be great if all students in our classes could read on 5th grade level. It is, however, beneficial for students to be able to follow along, listen, and be able to work cooperatively in order to gain all they can from the reading of this book and to successfully complete assignments on their own level and hopefully gain from the learning being presented.

Instructional Procedures



Choose to read each chapter as a group, students reading the chapter on their own or buddy reading. Use strategies as needed such as predicting, KWL, summarizing, sequencing, graphic organizers, and retelling, etc.
** There are more words to play with in this book than you will have time for.Have fun with this book. You will come up with ideas of your own as you're reading. Use your imagination.
1. Chapter 1

  • Brainstorming activities: Things you like to do in your spare time. Some things you hope to do in the future or places you'd like to visit. List of reasons for learning.
  • Vocabulary: turnpike, tollbooth
  • Read and discuss chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
  • Vocabulary: lethargic, expectation, doldrums
  • Exploring Compound Words: Make a list of some compound words. Discuss the two words that make up the compound word and have some fun with the words. ex: What would a watchdog look like if it looked literally like the two words? Maybe it would look like a combination of a watch and a dog. (There is an illustration in the book). Maybe a grasshopper would look like a piece of grass hopping.
    Have the students create their own illustration of a compound word.
  • Explore Homonyms and Homophones: First discuss the words weather and whether as they are found as a character in the book. Read to students the book - "The King Who Rained".
    Have students create their own page for The King Who Rained. You may need to brainstorm lists of words to give them some ideas not found in the book.
  • Explore synonyms: There are a lot a synonyms used in this chapter and throughout the book. You could use the thinking synonyms as vocabulary words: surmise, presume, reason, meditate, speculate. Have the students look for synonyms as the chapter is read. They could keep a notebook of synonyms or synonym phrases that they come across as the book is read.
  • Read and discuss Chapter 2

3. Chapter 3 and 4
  • Vocabulary: quagmire, flabbergast, upholstery
  • Time study: Use pgs. 378 and 379 in Math Advantage, Harcourt Brace.
    Or - pg. 74-75 in Mathematics in Action, MacMillan/McGraw-Hill
  • Dictionary Activity: Find 2 - 5 words that have a completely different meaning for the same word.
  • Play some word games such as boggle, scrabble, or 100 point word game. (A copy of 100 point word game is found in attachments.)
  • Letters in a box: Have a variety of letters placed in a box or bag. This can be a cooperative learning activity where 2 to 4 students work together. Have students take all of the letters in their bag and make words with the letters. They can paste the letters onto a poster, (letters can only be used once). Have students make as many words as they can. Points can be given for longest word, most words, words that fit into a category, or etc.


    "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster,

Created: 02/12/2004
Updated: 02/05/2018