Like most tweenagers, my students adore websites such as Moshi Monsters, MovieStarPlanet, and Minecraft. If permitted, they'd spend hours creating characters in virtual worlds, building cities, or dodging monsters. However, I found it was possible to get them excited about Web activities associated with books! Read about four Scholastic Flashlight Readers activities that got them to take a break from traditional Web games and that created a chapter book frenzy.
Flashlight Readers activities come with sound effects, lots of flashy graphics for interactive whiteboards or computers, and lesson plans for busy teachers. Below are our Flashlight Readers favorites.
My digital artists chose animal characters or individualized human characters from Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie. Kids can click and drag the paintbrush to change human skin color and click the arrows to change the hair, eyes, nose, mouth, or clothing. Print the scrapbook with a blank canvas so students can draw their own characters at their desks. Prompts in the scrapbook ask students to list describing words about a character, details about the character's appearance and personality, and her challenges and accomplishments. The scrapbook is a great way to get kids to analyze real-life or fictional characters or to develop characters for their own stories.
My 3rd and 4th graders enjoyed creating their own graphic versions of Charlotte's Web. Students can choose a comic layout and then click and drag characters, objects, setting, and speech bubbles onto each frame. Print out the comics and allow students to paste their creations into their reading response notebooks. (You will need Adobe Flash Player for this activity.)
Is it possible to turn a few reading assessment questions into an enticing maze or video game? Yes! My pickiest 4th graders have skipped recess just to play the Holes Treasure Hunt Game, the Because of Winn-Dixie Stump the Dump Game, and Hugo Cabret's Mechanical Maze! In these Flashlight Readers activities, kids can answer questions about books to help characters earn additional time in tricky mazes, collect rewards, or dodge obstacles.
Flashlight Readers also connects kids to author readings, comments, videos, and first drafts of the author's work. Many of my students were shocked to learn that Kate DiCamillo's first drafts did not have capitalization and punctuation throughout the draft and listed a different name for Ms. Opal Bulloni. I had to explain that "even big time writers go through the same writing process kids do!"
Got tech-savvy kids? Create a QR code for the Flashlight Readers author videos and readings and paste them in your library to give kids a personal author experience every time they grab a book.
Flashlight Readers activities are also available for Esperanza Rising, Hoot, A Dog's Life, The Underland Chronicles, Inkheart, and Blue Balliett. For more ways to entice reluctant readers, check out my post "Revitalize Classroom Libraries for Digital Natives."