One benefit of technology is how it can facilitate students' research around customized topics of interest. Using the Internet, teachers can guide their students in research projects, with the results being enhanced motivation on the part of students and an excitement in the classroom as students share and discus what they are learning. Often, this is done using Internet projects or activities. Web-based searches can build general, background knowledge before, after, and during reading, or they can to facilitate deep understanding of a particular book. It's the second area that is shown in Norma Boswell's most interesting and valuable WebQuest for the book Because of Winn-Dixie.

Introduction continues

Chuck Kinzer
Department Editor

A WebQuest for Because of Winn-Dixie

Norma Boswell

For a printer-ready version of this WebQuest, click here. Use your browser’s “Back” button to return to the Reading Online site.

Because of Winn-Dixie is a wonderful book by Kate DiCamillo. The book is about a girl, Opal and her trip to the grocery store. Opal leaves the store with more than groceries when she finds a big, ugly dog she names Winn-Dixie. This WebQuest is designed to help you as you read the book. In this WebQuest, you will explore some real websites in search of information you will need to help you on your quest. When you see a section that says J.F.K. (Just for Kicks), you will know that you are about to set out on a real world exploration.

The Tasks

The tasks on this WebQuest are designed to help you understand and better enjoy the story Because of Winn-Dixie as you read it. Some of the tasks should be done before you read the book, some should be completed as you read the book, and some should be done after you finish the book. Follow the directions in "The Process" closely, because they will guide you through the reading of the book. The J.F.K. links are there for you to just explore and have fun.

The Process

It is OK to work in small groups or with one other person. Remember, the J.F.K. activities are just for your enjoyment. You do not have to complete those in the same manner as the tasks.

Before you read the book, you will complete Task 1, the Knowledge Rating Sheet. For this task, you will place an "X" in the box that best shows your knowledge of the vocabulary words listed. If you know what the word means, use it in a sentence at the bottom of the worksheet. If you have seen this word before, please note where. If you don't know what the word means, you can look it up in a dictionary. (Feel free to explore this dictionary site. There are lots of neat things to do there!) Once you get a definition for the word, you can write it on the worksheet also.

Task 1 - Knowledge Rating Sheet

I know what this word means
I have seen this word before
I do not know what this word means










If you put an "X" in the first column, write a sentence below using that word.

If you put an "X" in the second column, write where you have seen the word before.

If you put an "X" in the third column, find the definition and write it below.

1. preacher: ___________________________________________

2. mosquito: ___________________________________________

3. croak: ______________________________________________

4. lozenge: ____________________________________________

5. orphan: _____________________________________________

6. sermon: _____________________________________________

7. potluck: _____________________________________________

8. howl: _______________________________________________

9. holler: _______________________________________________

10. knuckle: ____________________________________________

J.F.K. Visit the Winn-Dixie website. On the top left of the page, click on "Locate a Store". Then type in your zip code to find the store nearest your home.

Task 2 - Alphaboxes

Alphaboxes can be done as you read the book. Before you begin the book, look at the Alphaboxes worksheet below. As you read the book, try to find vocabulary words for each letter or box. Try to find the most interesting words you can for each box. It is OK to have more than one word in each box. I am sure all your Alphaboxes will be full when you finish the book!

Task 2 - Alphaboxes


Now that you have completed the first task (Knowledge Rating Sheet) and are familiar with the second task, you are ready to begin reading. Ladies and gentlemen, start your books! Read the first 10 chapters--don't worry, they are short! After you complete the assigned reading, come back to the WebQuest for more fun and challenging tasks. do you like the book so far? I just love this book. Now that you have read the first 10 chapters, you are ready to continue your Quest. Before we do another task, how about another J.F.K.?

J.F.K. Visit the MapQuest site. Is there really a place called Naomi, Florida?

When you get to the MapQuest website, look at the column on the left side of the page. Type the word Naomi in the city box, and type FL in the state box. Click the box that says "map it." What did you get? In my search, I wasn't able to find a city called Naomi, FL. But there is a Naomi in Georgia!

Task 3 - Story Pyramid

Now that you had that adventure, it is time for another task. Task 3 is called a Story Pyramid. Before you begin, please read the directions below the pyramid.

Task 3 - Story Pyramid

1. ____________

2. ___________________


4. _________________________________

5. ________________________________________

6. _______________________________________________

7. _____________________________________________________

8. ___________________________________________________________

In the blank lines above, write the information for the following:

1. The name of the main character.

2. Two words describing the main character.

3. Three words describing the setting.

4. Four words describing the story problem.

5. Five words describing one event in the story.

6. Six words describing a second event in the story.

7. Seven words describing a third event in the story.

8. Eight words describing the solution to the problem.

Hint: If you and your friends are doing separate Story Pyramids, you may have different answers for some of the questions. That is OK. Now you all can compare and contrast your answers. Also, since you have not finished the book, you may not know all the answers yet. That is OK, too. Answer as many as you can now. You can come back and fill in the rest later as the story develops!

J.F.K. time again! Do you remember reading about how there are bad thunderstorms where Opal lives? Visit the Weather Channel online. At the top of the page, there is a section for local weather. Type in your zip code. What's the weather going to be like in your hometown today? Is today a picnic day or a good day to stay indoors? Either way, take your book with you!

It is time to get back to Opal, Winn-Dixie, and the preacher. Read chapters 11-20. When you finish, come back to the WebQuest. We'll find something to do!

J.F.K. time again! This is one you are going to want to do! Remember the beginning of chapter 11, when Opal started her new job at the pet shop? Visit another webpage about Winn-Dixie. You may want to print out the page to complete the problem. It seems that Otis has given Opal the task of putting price tags on the animals, but she has to do the math to figure out which tag to put on which animal. Can you help Opal? If you need help, ask a friend or a grown-up.

Task 4 - Story Frame

If you have read up to chapter 20, you probably know quite a bit about the story by now. Complete Task 4, a Story Frame.

Fill in the Story Frame below with the correct answers. If you don't know the ending yet, you can come back to it after you finish the story, but this task should help you remember what happened in the beginning and middle of the book.

Task 4 - Story Frame

Once upon a time in (setting) there lived a (main character). He or she was very (use a descriptive word) and always liked to (character's favorite activity). One day (main character's name) wanted very much to (write in a goal of the main character). But there was a problem. The problem was (write in the problem). So (main character) tried and tried and finally (write in how the character solved the problem). The story ends when (give the resolution to the problem and ending to the story).

You can use the space below to write in your answers. Once again, if you have not finished the book, you might think of some other problem that Opal or another character had that may have resolved itself, such as the time when Opal wanted the preacher to tell her ten things about her mother. Or, you might remember the problem Opal had when she wanted to buy Winn-Dixie a collar she could not afford. How did she solve that problem? Remember, if you and a friend are doing separate worksheets, your answers may not be the same.

WOW! That took a lot of thinking. I need another J.F.K.! Visit this website about Kate DiCamillo.

Read the interview with the author Kate DiCamillo. How did she think of the story? Did she ever really live in Florida? She won a very important award for this book (the Newbery Medal). Does she plan to write any more books? I sure hope so!

It is time to finish the book! I'll bet you were so excited, that you couldn't wait for me! But if you haven't done so already, read chapters 20-26. When you are finished, come back to the WebQuest so that we can finish up our study of Because of Winn-Dixie.

J.F.K.! Visit the kids' area of the American Kennel Club website. This site has a newsletter for kids and information that will help kids to take care of their dogs. You can choose any date to read the newsletters.

I wondered what kind of dog Winn-Dixie might be, so I did a search. To do your own search, click on the word "Breeds" at the bottom of the page. After the page loads, click on the words "AKC Recognized Breeds" on the left side of the page. On the next page, click the "Miscellaneous" button on the left. Then click on "Redbone Coonhound." What do you think? I think he is close to Winn-Dixie. Go ahead and explore this site. There are a lot of beautiful dogs to learn about. If you have a dog, see if your breed is listed here.

Task 5 - Questioning the Author

Congratulations! You must have finished the book! What did you think about it? Did you love it as much as I did? Remember, if you left any tasks uncompleted, now is a good time to go back and finish putting in the rest of the information.

For our last task we are going to do an exercise called Questioning the Author. If you did the J.F.K. about the interview with the author, Kate DiCamillo, you probably have more questions you want to ask her. Pretend you are a reporter, and you are going to interview Kate DiCamillo personally. What questions would you ask her? Was there anything about the story that you didn't understand? Think about the following when preparing for your interview:

Task 5 - Questioning the Author

1. What is the author trying to tell you?

2. Why is the author telling you that?

3. Does the author say it clearly?

4. How could the author have said things more clearly?

5. What would you say instead?


Use the following rubric to evaluate your performance on the WebQuest. You can get help from a friend, grown-up, or teacher. Place an "X" in the box that best describes how well you completed each task, and the amount of effort you put into doing each one. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!



Completed all the work and gave it my best effort


Completed most of the work and gave a lot of effort


Completed about half of the work and gave some effort


Completed less than half the work and gave little effort


Completed a small portion of the work, and gave very little effort

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

Task 4

Task 5


I hope you all enjoyed the book Because of Winn-Dixie, and I hope you all enjoyed this WebQuest as much as I enjoyed making it. I also hope you took the extra time to complete the J.F.K. activities. They were fun, challenging, and informational. Please continue to read good books. A good book can take you places that you might not have the opportunity to go to otherwise, such as Naomi, Florida!

Web Resources for Teachers and Kids

American Kennel Club

Dictionary for Kids

Meet Bernie Dodge--the Frank Lloyd Wright of Learning Environments!

Questioning the Author

Story Pyramid

Suzy Red

The Weather Channel

WebQuest Template

Winn-Dixie website

About the Author

Norma Boswell holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She is a preservice teacher and a recent graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she earned a Master of Arts in Elementary Education. Her interests include all aspects of language arts and technology for the classroom. Norma is currently authoring a series of picture books that emphasize science and social studies for the primary grades. She also plans to develop more web-based activities for popular children's chapter books. Norma welcomes questions and comments and can be contacted at

Back to top

For a printer-ready version of this article, click here.

Citation: Boswell, N. (2003, February). A WebQuest for Because of Winn-Dixie. Reading Online, 6(6). Available:

Reading Online,
Posted February 2003
© 2003 International Reading Association, Inc. ISSN 1096-1232