So you’ve just finished reading a novel or a short story with the class, and it’s time for a fun small group activity. But you also want to review the basic story elements and get the kids thinking about the characters and the theme of the story. How do you combine the two?
One simple way is to make it a group project to complete a selection of story element graphic organizers and then work on follow-up questions that go more in depth about characters and theme, or whatever you want them to focus on.
For this project, I might assign each group a packet that includes a story elements chart, a character map, and a set of a few questions such as:
• Which two character traits would you say best describe the main character?
• If this character was a student in our class, who would he most likely be friends with? What kind of a student would he be?
•Why do you think the author wrote this story? Who did he probably think would be reading it? What message do you think he wanted his readers to get from the story?
∗Be sure to give evidence from the text to support each answer.
One student in the group could be made responsible for getting the group to complete each of the three parts and recording the group’s answers. Additional roles for group members might include:
• Making sure that everyone’s ideas are included.
•Asking questions of the teacher when necessary.
•Determining how the group’s answers will be presented to the class.
Instead of the story elements chart and character map, other graphic organizers could be substituted depending on what elements you want to focus on such as a plot map or a setting illustration. And of course, after the basic story elements are addressed, the group discussion wouldn’t have to be about characterization or theme. Any questions that involve making inferences from the story could be used. Questions about the group’s opinion on topics raised by the story would work, too. Whatever organizers and questions you decide to use, the kids are sure to enjoy jumping right into a group activity!
And, for a different type of reading activity – for groups or individual kids – check out this 12-card sample of my reading task cards. Each card presents a reading passage related to the theme of “mysteries.” Some are fiction, and some are non-fiction. Here is what is included:
Fiction – 4 Cards
– Making Inferences
– Identifying the Sequence
Non-Fiction – 4 Cards
Using Context Clues – 2 Cards
Editing – 2 Cards
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