Grades 2-3: Book Reports Reimagined
Rethink traditional book reports with these unique activities.
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
Biographies for Book Reports Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
by Tracey Fern. $17.99.
In 1851, Prentiss navigated a ship from New York, around Cape Horn, and into San Francisco in record time.
Jubilee! One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace
by Alicia Potter. $16.99.
Bandleader Patrick Gilmore organized a concert to mark the end of the Civil War, pulling off a five-day jubilee.
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Everything
by Maira Kalman. $17.99.
The captivating and complicated life of the third U.S. president comes alive through text and Kalman’s whimsical art.
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1; W.6; SL.5
What You Need: iPad or Android mobile devices, Tellagami app (free)
What to Do: At Parma Elementary School in Michigan, Colby Sharp’s third-grade students don’t just stand in front of the class to deliver oral book reports. Instead, they let their virtual selves do the talking with Tellagami, a digital storytelling app. Using the app, students create avatars of themselves, choosing from physical attributes, voice, mood, and clothing. Students can either type their book reports for Tellagami to read aloud or record their own voices. After uploading an image of the book as a background, they position their avatars on top of the book to deliver a speech that will convince classmates to read the book. Be sure to explore the art of persuasion by discussing powerful words and phrases that will help win over listeners. Students can share their “Gamis,” as the videos are called, with peers and parents alike.
Book Board Games
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2; R.3
What You Need: Poster board, markers, index cards cut in half and then folded in two, paper clips, tape, dice
What to Do: Invite students to work in small groups to create a board game based on a book they’ve all read. Give each group a poster board. Students should draw a weaving path made up of squares and write sequential events from the book’s plot in some of the squares. (Tell them to leave squares in between events blank.) When a player lands on an event, it should have a consequence, either good (Some pig! Move ahead to the county fair) or bad (Templeton eats Wilbur’s slops—lose a turn to digest). Invite students to illustrate the book’s setting in the space that surrounds the path.
To create game pieces, students can draw each main character from the book on one side of a folded, half-size index card. On the other side, they should write the character’s name and some traits. (To make game pieces stand unassisted, bend a paper clip so the two loops form a 90-degree angle. Then tape the paper clip to the underside of a card.) Groups can exchange boards to play. Each player should select a character card and then take turns rolling the dice to move along the game board. In doing so, they’ll discover some great new stories.
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2; R.4; W.7
What You Need: Shoeboxes with lids (with a slit cut in each lid), drawing paper, markers, index cards
What to Do: Looking for a fresh way to report on nonfiction books? Turn your classroom into a mystery museum.
First, have each student choose a nonfiction book on a curricular topic. After they’ve read their book, tell them they will be creating their own “exhibits” that will go on display in the Mystery Museum.
To begin the art project, have students cover a shoebox with drawing paper and decorate each side with important information from their book. Give them options for conveying information, such as a heading followed by relevant facts, a short glossary, or a diagram with labels. After they’re done decorating, students should draw an image of the main topic (an animal, a famous person, etc.) on a sheet of paper and place it inside the box.
Display the shoeboxes around the room. Allow students to circulate, examine the outside of the boxes, and guess the topics hidden inside. Students can record their guesses on index cards and slip them through the slits in the lids. Afterward, let your curators peek at their classmates’ guesses before revealing their books to the class.
Digital Fairy Tales
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2; R.5; W.3; W.6
What You Need: Fairy tales, computers with Internet access
What to Do: Explore fairy tales as a genre, including the elements, structure, and sequencing of some common tales. Then, send students off in pairs to read a few fairy tales; they will choose one story to retell, drafting it on paper, then log in to Storybird.com to create a digital version. (Set up individual accounts or create a class log-in.) The site allows users to view, edit, illustrate, and share stories.
“One of my favorite things about Storybird is that you can collaborate,” says Shannon McClintock Miller, a teacher-librarian at Van Meter Community School District in Iowa. “Even parents can be invited to collaborate, which is a really special project between school and home.”