FOR GRADES K—2
The Family Book By Todd Parr The brightly hued casts of Todd Parr’s stories, including The Family Book and It’s Okay to Be Different, introduce readers to a diverse and colorful world. Why not stage a puppet show reflecting on Parr’s theme of friendship? What you need Gently used gloves, scissors, fabric glue, brightly colored construction paper, fabric, sequins, yarn What to do See if families or colleagues are willing to donate gently used gloves-if not, the cheap and stretchy kind available at many discount clothing stores will work well. Cut off the fingers of the gloves and pass out one to each student. These will serve as the bodies of their puppets. Encourage children to cut out faces and clothing from the construction paper or fabric, using Parr’s illustrations as inspiration. Attach to the bodies with fabric glue and add further embellishments, such as sequins for eyes and yarn for hair. Activity to try Discuss one of the specific themes of Parr’s books, such as friendship or family. Divide the class into small groups and allow them to free-play around the theme using the finger puppets.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom By John Archambault Kids love the catchy, rhythmic text of this classic read-aloud picture book. Use these alphabet trees inspired by the story as a year-long teaching tool. What you need Empty plastic bottles, brown craft foam or paper, floral craft leaves, twist ties or floral wire, green electrical tape, small foam letters, glue What to do Cut the foam or paper into strips. Help children glue the strips around their bottles. Give each student five leaves to tie into a bunch using twist ties or wire. Place the bunch in the top of the bottle and secure with tape. Invite students to gather one foam letter for each letter of the alphabet to glue to the “trunks.” Activity to try Have kids place their trees on their desks during writing workshop to help in letter formation. Or use them as a quick way to sort students-“If your letter M is blue, come with me; if it’s red, it’s time for music.”
Knuffle Bunny By Mo Willems Invite children to try their hand at Mo Willems’s illustration style in Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too-black and white photographs collaged with colored-pencil drawings. What you need Black and white photographs from magazines or websites, white paper, colored pencils What to do Discuss Willems’s style with students. How do the “real” photographic elements add to the story? What about the illustrated portions? Invite students to select one of the photographs and think about what they could add to it to make a story. The story can be made up or based on something that happened in real life. Give students plain white paper and colored pencils to illustrate their story elements. Cut out the illustrations and glue them onto the photo backdrops. Activity to try Display the collages in your reading area and compare to other styles throughout the year.
6 More Picture Book Projects Instant ideas for terrific tales!
Martha Speaks By Susan Meddaugh Have children glue alphabet pasta onto cardstock to create Martha-esque messages using your current spelling words.
Imogene’s Antlers By David Small Twist brown pipe cleaners into antler-like shapes; attach to paper headbands for an instant Imogene makeover. Zelda and Ivy By Laura McGee Kvasnosky Make sparkling batons by wrapping recycled paper tubes in aluminum foil and decorating with ribbon and stickers.
Wolves By Emily Gravett Have kids add illustrations to old books otherwise headed for the dumpster. Miss Rumphius By Barbara Cooney Plant flower seeds in anticipation of spring. Gift them to various staff members at school, such as the secretary or the nurse.
Rattletrap Car By Phyllis Root Challenge children to make a car out of unusual supplies, such as paper clips, marshmallows, and rubber bands.
BEST FOR GRADES 3-5
Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency By Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen Get crafty Revisit the illustrations of Belva’s campaign posters. Challenge students to design their own posters, including slogans that might have persuaded people to vote for Belva. Get writing The newspapers called Belva “Laughable Lockwood.” Have students write letters to the editor explaining why people should or should not vote for Belva. Get moving Some of Belva’s male critics staged “Belva Lockwood Parades,” in which they dressed like women and made fun of Belva. Plan your own class parade where students dress up like Belva and the crowd. Cue students first to mock Belva, then switch to supporting her. How did they move, speak, and act differently in the two scenarios?
Extra Credit By Andrew Clements Get crafty Read the description in Chapter 11 of the stamps Abby uses to mail her letters to Sadeed. Ask students to bring in and display stamps or peruse the selection at usps.gov. Have students create their own stamps that illustrate their feelings about the places where they live. Get writing Check out Kids’ Space Connection to connect with students overseas like Sadeed: ks-connection.org. Students can write their own messages to their international peers or you can choose to communicate as a class. Get moving Kite flying is popular with kids in Sadeed’s native Afghanistan, including battles where opponents knock one another’s kites out of the sky! Host a class kite day. Who can fly their kites the longest? The highest?
Knights of the Kitchen Table (Time Warp Trio) By Jon Scieszka Get crafty Read the description of the magic book’s cover in Chapter 2. Have students design a cover for their own magic time-travel book. Begin with a piece of paper that is “such a dark, dark, blue that it almost look(s) black, like the sky at night,” and let students experiment with glitter glue, star stickers, colored chalk, strips of aluminum foil, and silver and gold paint pens. Use students’ work as the covers for their time-travel diaries below, or post on a bulletin board for the whole school to enjoy. Get writing Have students research a historical period and find out what everyday life was like. Have them pretend to be a character from the past (real or fictitious) and write a diary entry, with the date and place, about what that character’s day was like. Challenge them to include at least three interesting facts that they discovered in their research. Invite students to read their diary entries to the class. Can the other students guess the time period and/or historical author of each diary entry? Get moving In Chapter 8, Fred, Sam, and Joe try (unsuccessfully) to explain the rules of baseball to their medieval peers. Modern baseball is believed to have evolved from a medieval game called Stool Ball. Check out the history and rules at slumberland.org/sca/articles/stoolball.html, then grab a bat, ball, and chair for a game of medieval baseball!
Rickshaw Girl By Mitali Perkins Get crafty Like Naima, many Bangladeshi girls and women paint alpana designs for festivals. Have students design their own alpana pattern for a holiday, sketching it first in pencil, then painting it in white on a terra cotta tile. Get writing In the author’s note, Mitali Perkins describes rural Bangladesh as having “…emerald rice paddies, golden jute fields, ruby sunsets in a sapphire sky.” Take students outside and have them describe what they see with colors. Get moving Give students an idea of what a rickshaw ride is like by going to video.google.com and searching for “ultimate bicycle rickshaw ride thru New Delhi, India.” Discuss how the ride is similar to an obstacle course. Set up a relay course in which two teams must pull wagons with stuffed-animal passengers through the obstacles.
BEST FOR GRADES 6—8
Post a Book Trailer on YouTube A book trailer is just like a movie preview-a short video that gives a hint of what the story is about in a captivating way and makes the viewer want to pick up the book. We love the trailers created by M2 Productions, a business owned and operated by a 17-year-old girl. Show students some of her videos at youtube.com/signingupagain. Then, challenge students to create their own trailers using movie software or PowerPoint. Remind kids that copyright law prevents them from using some images and songs. Find royalty-free images at istockphoto.com and royalty-free music at musicbakery.com.
Use a Wiki to Track Down Clues At Skyline Elementary School in Solana Beach, California, teachers Mike Bentz and Lisa Campbell won a 2009 Inspire Award from the Classroom of the Future Foundation for their project based on The 39 Clues series. While the series already features an online component, Bentz and Campbell upped the ante-and their students’ interest in reading-by creating a wiki and a blog that allowed students to collaborate on finding clues hidden throughout the series. Whether you’re reading The 39 Clues or another whodunit, setting up a wiki where kids can post their theories is easy at sites like educational wikis.wikispaces.com and wikisineducation.wetpaint.com.
Write an Online Review These days, book reviews are snappy and to the point. But just because something is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to write! As a class, take a look at some Amazon.com reviews and talk about what makes a strong post. Which reviews do students want to read and which do they skip over? Why? (A badly written review may be too long, filled with grammatical errors, vague, or too revealing of the story’s plot.) Challenge students to write their own reviews, incorporating the factors you’ve discussed. Before posting, have students swap reviews with a friend to check for any of the “skip over” qualities you listed. Create a Literary Avatar Chances are students have created dozens of characters from scratch in the world of online and console video games. Most games require players to specify physical characteristics and personal interests, so why not have students bring literary characters to life? You might have a World of Warcraft fan create a virtual Stanley Yelnats, for example, or an Anne of Green Gables reader clone the redheaded heroine at a site like millsberry.com.
Turn a Classic Into Text-Speak Having students think about what characters might text one another is a great way to check for comprehension and understanding of a character’s motivation and circumstances. When reading aloud in class, periodically stop and say, “Okay, now write a text from Holden to his sister” or “Have Maniac Magee send a text to someone explaining what just happened to him.” Invite students to share their text messages aloud and record them in a “call log” (a notebook or piece of chart paper).
Design Book Covers in Photoshop A book cover doesn’t always portray the story the way we imagine it. That’s why Naava Katz, a digital arts teacher at the Winston School in Short Hills, New Jersey, has her seventh- and eighth-grade students design new covers for their favorite books. “The kids illustrate a new cover design by hand, and then scan their drawings into Photoshop,” says Katz. “Then we stage a real photo shoot. They come to class with costumes, and pose as the main character. Finally, in Photoshop, they merge their photos into the illustrations, and add the book titles. So the results are a complete, new book cover design, which combines illustration, photography, costume design, and graphic design.”
Have any other suggestions for ways to celebrate books? Leave them in the comments!