Prospecting For Treasure

Always prospecting for the next treasure of an idea.

Engaging Book Reports

Our Biography Presidential Posters were due this week.  I teach at a traditional school, where we assign homework on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights.  I have been looking for ways to have that homework be a way of practicing important skills, instead of just completing worksheets.  Part of our homework, most nights, is to read for 20 minutes.  I started out having the kids write a summary of what they read, each homework night, but that became tedious very quickly, and I want them to love reading, not learn to hate it.  I also need for them to have some accountability.  In the past,  I have had them complete the usual book report forms, but this year I was looking for something different to do.

Can you tell what book each cereal represents?

During the month of December, my students read fiction, and created a Cereal Box Book Report. Students were to invent a cereal based on a fictional book that they had read during the month.  They were to think of a name and shape for the cereal,  that was somehow connected to the book they had read.  We covered real cereal boxes with paper, and each side of the box was to follow a specific guideline:

  • Front:  the name of the cereal and picture to go with it.
  • Back:  A game based on the story, which must include information from the story.
  • Right Side:  Ingredients—the characters and story setting.  (Some of the kids got confused on this one and just listed food ingredients.)
  • Left Side:  A  summary of the book, including the main conflict and resolution.
  • Top:  The title and author of the book, and the student’s name.

The last step was for students to plan and present a commercial for their cereal to the class.  I was very pleased with the results.  We had 100% completion of this project, and the kids seemed enthusiastic.

I didn’t come up with this idea myself.  It came from the book 24 Ready-to-Go Genre Book Reports by Susan Ludwig (published by Scholastic).  I like the fact that the instructions for each project are well laid out, with a teacher page that describes the project, and reproducible student directions that take the kids step by step through the project.  Each project also has an evaluation rubric, which can be used by the student or the teacher. 

By Susan Ludwig

During the month of January, we read biographies.  Students were to “nominate” the person they read about for president.  Then they made a presidential poster to describe the person’s qualities and background. The posters included:

  • Character traits that made this person a good leader.
  • Background:  information about the person’s family, education, home, etc.
  • Jobs and accomplishments
  • A drawing or photograph of the person

Each student then presented their poster to the class, by telling us about the person they had read about.  Some even gave little campaign speeches or brought props.  There are lots of other ideas in this book that I haven’t tried yet, but I’m sure I will in the future. 

This month we are working on a social studies project instead.  We are writing state reports.  Each person is reading a non-fiction book about one of the states in either the northeast or southern regions of the United States.  This is a shorter project and I am using a form from a different source.  When that is complete,  I think we will do something less formal for the end of February and during March.

I saw this idea in the Really Good Stuff catalog.  A pocket chart for kids’  book recommendations.    If you haven’t checked out, you should.  They really do have a lot of really good stuff.  Mmmmm…..that advertisement gives me an idea.  I’ll let you know where we go with this one.

What have you tried in the way of alternative book reports?  How do you keep the kids reading and keep the interest up?  I’d like to know.

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments