Picture Book Experience Units designed and written by Nancy Polette, published by Pieces of Learning, provide a variety of ideas and activities to promote critical thinking and creative writing experiences. Many of the activities are open ended.
Sample activities, taken from the unit, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, will give you an idea of the types of activities found in Nancy’s units.
Pre-Reading Oral Language (Provides practice with flexible thinking, speaking, and listening.)
Children work with a partner. Teacher gives a topic such as FORESTS. Partner A talks about the topic with partner B for 10 seconds and then the teacher will say switch. Now partner B talks about forests for ten seconds and partner A listens. A second topic is then given (example: TAKING A TRIP) and students talk for fifteen seconds about this topic then switch.The third topic may be WILD THINGS with each partner talking about the topic for twenty seconds.
Pre-Reading Journal Writing Activity (but this can also be done orally). A series of open ended sentences related to ideas /themes found in the book is provided and students are asked to complete the sentences.
Examples for Where the Wild Things Are include:Animals that can talk….
- One thing many people don’t want to meet is…
- The worst punishment is…
- Traveling to a new place can be…
- When going on a trip you should…
- Being a king for one day is…..
- You know you are home when….
When I’ve used these, I have asked students to finish the statement and then explain why.
Example: You know you are home when_____________________________ because _________________________. Or have students complete the statement and require that they add one or two additional sentences to elaborate.
With these types of open ended, thought provoking statements, you will quickly learn more about how your students think and about their ability to elaborate. Some students are very literal and others will show you that they are abstract thinkers. Remember, this is a before reading activity so student answers will/should be original to their experiences and not related to the story that you are about to share.
Post Reading Vocabulary Enrichment Activity This unit includes a spelling game where students are asked to use only the letters g p n i r s to answer a series of five questions (letters may be used more than once).
- Use four letters to describe the look on Max’s face when he saw the wild things.
- From the word you made in #1, take away two letters and add two letters to make a word that means to turn around and around quickly.
Fact Based Report Students are asked to brainstorm words to describe a forest using this chart
Then complete a Five Senses Report using the template below.
The forest is (color) ________________________
It sounds like ________________________________________
It tastes like _________________________________________
It smells like _________________________________________
It looks like _________________________________________
It makes me feel like __________________________________
Additional writing opportunities in this unit include a Making Silly Sentences activity and a Building Riddles writing activity.
Visit Nancy’s personal web page http://www.nancypolette.com/home.asp to find a variety of free activities posted for many different picture books. Look at the column to the left of the page and click on the words “Literature Guides”.
To order complete units from Pieces of Learning visit https://piecesoflearning.com/product-category/products/downloadable-literature-activity-guides/
As Nancy Polette states on her web page, “Enjoy the many activities found in the picture book and novel literature guides and note that these activities can be used with other picture books and novels as well.”