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Reading a story is all well and good, however I have found that to broaden the horizons of my children and students I need to make the book come alive, mean more than just the words that they read, show them that literature has a basis in their every day lives.  Here are a couple of activities I have created for The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo.

Anticipation Guides

Providing students with an assessment that is both pre and post reading is ideal.  Anticipation guides allow students to think about what they know about the topic of study and then afterwards review their knowledge and see if they were correct.

  1. Prepare a list of four to six statements.  Provide space for students to write whether they agree or disagree with the statements for both the pre-reading exercise and the post reading exercise.
  2. I often first do a picture walk through the book and then have my younger kids answer the questions as I read them off .  My oldest Dee will read the statements before he reads the book and then mark whether he disagrees or disagrees with the statements.
  3. After they read the book the students review their statements and write whether they still agree/disagree with the statements.
  4. Discuss the statements as a group.

Vocabulary

I love learning vocabulary!  I remember in seventh grade my English teacher made us write about five vocabulry words and definitions each day.  I don’t remember the majority of the words, but I do remember superfluous.  I also remember the pain in my hand as I left class each day.  I don’t think this was the way to go!  I like making it fun and interesting.  Do you remember the board game Balderdash?  I love this game so much that I came up with a version of it for my students.  I’m sure I’m not only one who has used this awesome game to make vocabulary fun for their students!!!  When Students are exposed to vocabulary in several different contexts, including context clues and definitions vocabulary lessons become more valuable.

Give students 10  5×7 index cards.  Have students write down the words: maiden, gather, doze, coax, papyrus, Pharaoh, linen, talons, tunic, din.  On each card have them write a definition of the words.  If they don’t know the definition instruct them to make a guess.  They can get as weird as they want.  Collect the cards.  Go through and pull out the correct answers.  Give those students 1 point on a score card.  Leave one of those cards in the deck.  Have the students vote on the correct definition.  On the score card give the students who correctly guess the word 2 points.  Give one point to the student whose definition had the most votes. Go over the correct definitions of the words before reading The Egyptian Cinderella.  After reading The Egyptian Cinderella give the students a vocabulary quiz using quotes from the book.

Comprehension

In order to become a successful reader, and to read texts successfully children need to build their comprehension skills.  These include being able to determine main ideas and details found throughout the text. Gail E. Tompkins lists these skills and strategies in her book Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach.  These include:

  • Recognizing details
  • noticing similarities and differences
  • identifying topic sentences
  • comparing and contrasting main ideas and details
  • matching causes with effects
  • sequencing details
  • paraphrasing ideas
  • choosing a good title for a text
  • recognizing the author’s purpose
  • detecting propaganda
  • distinguishing between fact and opinion

Obviously one main way of finding out if a child is understanding the text is through questions.  My son Dee HATES answering questions.  Therefore, I have to start getting creative.

  1. create double-entry Journals for each book in the unit.  For the first time doing this I provide two quotes and asked him to find his own quote.  For the reflections I wrote my own reflection for two of the quotes and asked him to write three of his own.  For The Egyptian Cinderella  I provided two quotes and one reflection.  As the unit continues he will end up writing his own quotes and reflections.
  2. I have used a chart in which he will fill out the setting, characters, hero/heroine, villain, problem, solution, magic by, cultural aspects, words.
  3. Have students write questions that they want to have answered or make predictions.
  4. One important activity is to use a venn diagram to notice the similarities and differences between Climo’s version of the Egyptian Cinderella and Starbo’s version.

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