I'm often asked for activities that help children respond to their reading - without it necessarily having to have a formal written outcome.
Here are four simple yet effective ideas. They are designed to be adapted for different age groups and can be structured as an independent task or a planned guided session with an adult.
What they do provide are opportunities for talk – building confidence about stories, developing recognition, recall and comprehension skills.
They are all simple to prepare and children enjoy doing them more than once – which is always a bonus!
Easy to construct – good for planning into a 20 minute slot.
Decorate a Character’s House
Give chidlren large sheets of paper and a corner of the classroom or a corridor space. Using the paper they have to ‘decorate’ the inside of a character’s house. E.g. The inside of the Three Little Pigs house, Grandma’s house in Red Riding Hood or for older chldren a room from ‘Wolves in the Walls’
They have to understand the key elements of the story, plot and/or characters to discuss what to draw. They could give ‘guided tours’ around their space to other children and adults later.
Paper Bag Theatres
White paper bags of the ‘takeaway’ variety can be bought quite cheaply (Ebay for example) and used for children to make a theatre backdrop. Along with some lolly sticks to draw characters it is a quick and easy way to retell a story, make up a sequel, add another character or make a brand new story.
A Wonder Box
Again – cheap and simple – make a ‘Wonder Box’ and give children slips of paper to write on.
They have to ask as many questions as they can about the story. This can be done just before they read it - perhaps responding to the blurb as they try to predict what the story is about ‘I wonder if…. ‘ I predict…. (Not every question has to start with I wonder – just be a question not a statement)
Or to pose questions to a character they have just read about ‘I wonder if she will…’ If he was to do this….
They post their slips of paper into the box and at a later time they go through their questions with an adult – who can help them strengthen their questioning skills and ultimately, the comprehension of the story. The Wonder Box can also be an outdoor version – even more motivational for some children.