And just like that we’re welcoming students back to the second half of the school year. After a carefree winter break, it can be difficult for them to settle back into a reading routine. I’m sharing some favorite literature activities that always get my students motivated, excited about reading, and back on track.
1. Literary Luminary Circles
Maybe you’re starting a new novel or perhaps you want to introduce a short story this month. I like to transform my classroom into a cozy space with Literary Luminary Circles. At this point in the year, I’m preparing my students for either Call of the Wild or Hatchet. I assign small groups a section of chosen text from our reading. Each group becomes the 'Luminary' for that section, responsible for finding and discussing significant quotes, figurative language, examples of dialogue, characterization, or whatever features you want to spotlight. You can also have them simply select sentences or features they find interesting, surprising, or thought-provoking for a more general activity without searching for specific text or literary examples. I've included a free, editable response sheet for you to use!
How to set it up: Arrange desks or chairs in circles, ensuring each has enough space for discussion. Provide battery-operated tea lights for each group. Assign sections of the text and let the illuminating discussions begin! I set two of these battery operated tea lights at each group table and play outdoor/nature music from Spotify to help set the mood and create a sensory experience. Each student has a copy of the selected text. This not only enhances the reading experience but also fosters collaborative analysis. I allow 20 minutes for group work and ten minutes for sharing out.
2. Figurative Language Snowball Fight
Let it snow! Imagine this… a Literary Snowball Fight that turns your classroom into a winter wonderland of words! All you need is plain, white paper, a bunch of markers or printer, and a bit of space to let the literary magic unfold.
The game is easy to set up and can be used with other content, but I like to pair it with figurative language. You’ll print or write figurative language examples on your papers and then double these to ensure you have enough snowballs for the game to go smoothly. You’ll want to number or label each example to coordinate with your response sheet. This could be a simple sheet of notebook paper that students number 1-10 or however many snowball examples you want. I then pass out the papers and have my students crumble them up to form the snowballs.
How to set it up: Divide your class into two sides standing opposite each other. I use a Google timer and play winter storm sounds from my Spotify playlist to set the mood. The kids love it! On my signal, students begin tossing the snowballs at each other. When time is up, students pick up a snowball closest to them, open it to reveal the question, record their answer on the response sheet, and then crumble the paper back up. Continue the snowball fight until students have had a chance to answer the number of questions you want.
3. Reading Task Cards
I use reading task cards as an effective way to target reading skills and give my students the opportunity to connect personally to their individual reading. The cards are invaluable in my reading response groups and for individual students. Questions on the cards enhance comprehension, vocabulary, and critical analysis skills. These task cards are available in both fiction and nonfiction versions. With the reading task cards, you can adapt to diverse reading materials, making it a perfect fit for your classroom. Download reading task cards here.
How to set it up: Designate a reading response time each week in your classroom. Make copies of the reading task cards (both fiction and nonfiction). Organize the task cards into the appropriate containers for easy use by students. These can also easily be incorporated into stations. Explain how you want students to respond to the task cards. See a complete reading response journals resource for more information.
Ready to make the second half of the school year unforgettable? Try literary luminary circles and figurative language snowball fights in your classroom. Be sure to download my freebies below for even more great ideas and resources!
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