Seeking Truth: A Wrinkle in Time

In this final 5th grade unit, students read about the nuances of good versus evil and how unconditional love can overpower darkness in A Wrinkle in Time, the first science fiction novel in our curriculum.



Alternate Unit 5

5th Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students use the classic text A Wrinkle in Time to explore the nuances of good versus evil and how unconditional love can overpower darkness and hate. Students also experience the power of believing in themselves and trusting those around them, by watching the main character’s self-confidence throughout the novel. This novel is the first science fiction novel that students are exposed to over the course of the curriculum. Exposing students to science fiction is important for not only building engagement and reaching a variety of readers but also for exploring common themes across multiple genres. It is our hope that this novel, in connection with others in the sequence, empowers students to believe in themselves and the power of love and kindness. It is also our hope that this unit inspires students to read and engage with books from a wide range of genres. 

As noted above, A Wrinkle in Time is the first science fiction novel that students read and analyze together. Therefore, over the course of the novel, students will be pushed to notice and analyze different genre features. In particular, the multiple settings are integral for both the development of the plot and the suspense and intrigue common in science fiction. As a result, students will have multiple opportunities to compare and contrast the different settings. Students will also spend a lot of time analyzing and noticing the author's craft, particularly the use of sentence structure and syntax as a way to develop tone and emotion. 

Paired with the graphic novel version of the text, students will compare and contrast the way Madeleine L’Engle uses description and voice to develop a scene versus how the graphic novel develops a scene. Students will also review characterization, and theme, using context clues to figure out the meaning of words, and plot. When discussing the text, students focus on critiquing and analyzing the reasoning of others, using what they learned from previous units on how to clarify and share their own thoughts and how to engage with the thinking of others to push the discussion to a deeper level.

Students also have multiple opportunities to write literary analysis/opinion paragraphs and essays, using what they learned from previous units about topic sentences, supporting details, and elaboration to write multiple paragraphs and essays in response to a question. The unit culminates with students writing an opinion piece about if A Wrinkle in Time should or should not be on the banned book list. 

Please Note: In January 2024, we released updated enhanced lesson plans for this unit, which now include answers to key questions and related student supports. You may notice discrepancies in previously downloaded/printed unit or lesson plans.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Square Fish, Reprint edition, 2007)   —  740L

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • What characteristics and traits help people succeed in the face of challenge? 
  • What are the characteristics of sci-fi/fantasy texts and how do these apply to a Wrinkle in Time

Reading Focus Areas

  • Science fiction and fantasy have predictable genre features that influence the characters, setting, and plot of a story.

  • Authors can use setting to elicit a particular mood or to build suspense.

  • Comparing and contrasting visual and text versions of the same text can help the reader build a deeper understanding of the text.

  • Authors reveal the theme of a story by using predictable patterns and pathways.

Writing Focus Areas

Opinion Writing

  • Create topic/introductory sentences that clearly state an opinion.

  • Provide logically ordered reasons and details to support an opinion.

  • Link opinions and reasons using words, phrases and clauses.

  • Organize ideas into paragraphs.

  • Provide a concluding statement or section.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Question and clarify to build understanding. Seek to clarify a particular point a peer makes by asking follow-up questions.

  • Build on and challenge a partner's ideas.

  • Synthesize to build deeper meaning. Synthesize everything from the discussion into a coherent statement at the end of the discussion.



aberration agony antagonistic anguished apprehension appallingly arrogance assimilate belligerent contradicted compulsion corrosive delinquent despondency diction dignity disillusion dimension dubiously earnestly emanate essence fallible fatally frantic hysterical hypnotize illusion impenetrable indignantly intoned inadvertently insolent incomprehensible loathing metamorphose monotonous nondescript omnipotent ominous peril primitive resentment resilience seldom solemnly somber subdued tenacity trepidation unsubstantial verbalize


-able -ment -ous -sion -tion in- non- un-

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Notes for Teachers

  • Madeleine L’Engle wrote this book during the 1960s, when the idea of space travel was new and interesting to people in the United States. It was also a time when the Soviet Union and the United States were competing with each other in the field of space exploration. Research and learn about the time period in order to provide context for the time and place in which the book was written. 
  • Madeleine L’Engle also choses to reflect political themes of the time period. For example, life on Camazotz is similar to how Americans envisioned life in the Soviet Union at the time, where people’s freedom and individuality were limited. Research and learn about the time period in order to provide context for comparison. 
  • In some analyses of A Wrinkle in Time, the triumph of love is considered an allusion to Christian theology. L’Engle makes a few explicit references to the New Testament, but the references simply stand as a starting point for exploring the larger universal theme of good vs. evil and love vs. hate. The references to Christianity are not discussed or referred to within this unit plan. 

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 4

Young Heroes: Children of the Civil Rights Movement

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