The days of dioramas and book reports may be long gone. (Is it wrong that I’m a little sad about that?) Yet the expectation that students read and express their understanding of what they’ve read remains as strong as ever.
So what’s a teacher to do? More specifically, what’s a creative teacher to do, when she doesn’t want to rely on worksheets? Get creative, of course!
I’ve compiled 9 Fun Book Projects for you. They’re quick and easy to prepare, and best of all, they’re engaging – for both your students andyou. No more slogging through piles of “Why I Liked This Book!”
Take a look:
Write a different ending -- What if the main character didn’t make it in the end? Or the dogs had lived? Or the culprit was the best friend? Your students’ imaginations can really wander with this assignment. Maybe their alternate ending will be even better than the original! Offer to let students draw their new ending as a bonus.
Give a book talk --- Book talks are a wonderful way for students to demonstrate their understanding of books that they have read while practicing their writing and speaking skills. They're a great book project because they combine so many skills...and students love listening to one another. Oh, and the added bonus is that students can learn about books that they're interested in reading as they listen to the book talks.
If you'd like to give them a try, then check out this FREE BOOK TALK GUIDE. It includes an overview of book talks, pre-write, final copy, and tips and tricks for presenting a book talk. Find it HERE.
Write a sequel -- If you have the time, your students may want to extend their alternative endings into a whole second book (or at least a few pages or a chapter). After all, who hasn’t reached the end of a great read and wished for more? This will be a challenge, as students will have to build on the original plot lines and character outlines. Refer them to some famous book series for inspiration.
Write a letter to the author -- Take a page from Beverly Cleary’s classic Dear Mr. Henshaw and have students write a thoughtful letter, with questions for the author of their current reading selection (or a favorite book). Most authors love to write (of course!) and appreciate opportunities to interact directly with their readers. Address letters (or e-mails) to the publisher, or see if the author has contact information on his or her website. It never hurts for students to practice their letter-writing and envelope-addressing skills, either – at least as long as snail mail is still around. Your students will be thrilled to get a response, too.
Great news! I've put together three stationary templates that students can use when drafting their letters. They're a special FREEBIE just for you! Click here to check them out...and download them for free!
Choose a response --- Here's an idea that students love...give them choices! It's amazing how giving students the ability to select the response or project that they would like to complete instantly increases their engagement. With that in mind, I created a series of "This or That" reading responses. Each This or That Reading Prompt includes instruction at the top of the worksheet and then 2 reading response choices for students to showcase their learning. After reviewing the choices, students can choose to do the "This" prompt or the "That" prompt. You can easily turn this into a book project by having students complete 5 (or so) different prompts while reading the book and submit them all as a final project when they finish reading the book. Learn more HERE.
Set it to music -- Have your students capture a pivotal scene from the book in a song set to familiar music. It can be a ballad, a pop song, a rap – whatever speaks to them or best works with the scene. Encourage students who select this option to put on a concert. For students who are shy to perform, give them the option of recording their song privately, so you can play it without them having to get up in front of the class.
Doodle it --- This is my FAVORITE type of book project! That's because it combines reflection, thinking and DOODLING! You can instantly take book reports and book projects to a whole new level with a Doodle Book Review! First, students complete a planning guide. Then, they design a Doodle Book Review! Check it out HERE! Create a File Folder --- I first developed this book project idea many years ago as a summer reading project. Then, I altered it slightly so that it could be completed during anytime of the school year with any book. With this project, students compile critical information from the book they read including the plot, characters, setting, and a reflection in a manila file folder. The file folder book report includes detailed instructions so that students can complete it all independently. The end result is a compact project that students love! Oh, and you can store the file folders by your classroom library for students to reference when picking out a book! Find more details HERE.
Blog about it -- If you have a classroom webpage, it can be fairly simple to create a live (and private) blog that students can use to discuss and debate the merits of their favorite books. This option might work best for students who have read the same book. Make sure you establish expectations for a civil online conversation. You can get in on the convo, too!
Focusing on nonfiction in your classroom? Try one of these book report alternatives:
Ø Create a scrapbook with images and facts about the book topic.
Ø Write interview questions for the main character (if reading a biography, for example). Extend this assignment by allowing students to dress up as the character and record their responses to the interview questions.
Ø Write a diary that one of the story’s main characters might have kept before, during, or after the book’s events. Make sure students emphasize what the character is thinking and feeling to give it an authentic feel.