Being an artist and living a creative life leaves one with a lot of free time on one’s hands. (Yeah, right.) So I fill my mornings with the education of my three children, ages 6, 8 and 9. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, but I’m blessed in having been home educated from grades 8 through 12, and so I’m pretty comfortable with the concept. We’ve really embraced the idea that we can take charge of our children’s education and teach them to really love learning as a lifestyle.
My daughters are in grades 3 and 4 and they are just starting to get more comfortable with writing. It can be a misery to try to get them to write a book report, or even a descriptive paragraph. I also find that as a parent, the student/teacher dynamic is different than if I were to give them instructions as a non-family member. They are under my authority all day long, and this can chafe. My children are more receptive to educational directives if they are plainly spelled out at the beginning of the day (goal charts) or if they are offered choices or instructions in writing.
Enter the reading enrichment jar:
I wrote up a list of twenty-five reading enrichment activities that should work with most of the books they read through the course of a year, whether fiction or non-fiction. I printed the list, then cut them into strips with one activity on each strip. Each day, after completing their silent reading, the girls can each pull a strip from the jar and complete the enrichment exercise.
We tried it out today, and the idea was a hit. We were all getting a little stale on “write something you remember from your reading today” so my oldest was delighted to have the opportunity to create a word search inspired by her novel, while my eight-year-old wrote an alternate ending to her book.
Here’s the list, if you want to try it with your reluctant writers! I’ve saved it as a PDF file if you want one print-ready, right click on the link and “save file as”.
- Write an alternate title for the book.
- If the main character came to your house, would you be happy? What would the two of you do? Where would you go? What questions would you ask him/her?
- Draw a new cover for the book.
- What is the setting of the book? (Ask if you don’t know what this means.) Is it a real place or imaginary?
- Is this book fiction or non-fiction? If it’s fiction, is it fantasy or reality?
- How is the main character of the book like you? How is he/she different?
- Is there a villain in the book? How are they like you? How are they different?
- Describe the conflict in the story. Can you see a way to resolve it?
- List three words from the book that are new or unfamiliar. Find their definitions and learn to pronounce them.
- Write a haiku or limerick about the book.
- Find the setting of the story on a map, or, if an imaginary location, draw a map of the locations in the story.
- How is life in the book like your life today? How is it different?
- Write a newspaper headline based on what you read today.
- Does your character have a special talent? What is it?
- If you could be magically placed into the story’s action with the main character, would you go? Why or why not?
- From the book, write one sentence that is a question, one that is an exclamation, and one that is a statement. Pick interesting sentences if you can.
- What is the author’s name? Is there an illustrator? What is his/her name? Have you read any other books by this author or illustrator?
- Pretend you are a news reporter and choose a character from the book to interview.
- Write an alternate ending for the story. If you don’t know how the story ends yet, imagine an ending for the book.
- Write the first sentence in the story. What does the first sentence tell you about the story? Is it an interesting sentence? Does it make you want to read more?
- Write the name of the main character. Write three nouns associated with that character. (For example: Anne Shirley; girl, orphan, friend) Write three adjectives describing the main character.
- A book written to continue a story begun in an earlier book is called a sequel. If there was a sequel to your book, what could it be about? Write a paragraph describing some ideas for a sequel to the book.
- Often, books contain a moral lesson or advice to teach us. Think of one lesson a reader could learn from the book.
- Books are often categorized by genre, that is, by subject matter or theme. Some common genres for fiction are mystery, adventure, romance, fantasy, science-fiction and historical fiction. What genre does your book fit?
- Create a word search using ten important words from the book. (Ask your teacher for a word search template.)
Do you have any additional reading enrichment exercises? I’d love to hear them – the more we have, the more interesting our writing will be over the course of this school year!