March is National Reading Month. Homeschool parents and teachers, need cheap, homemade English language arts–ELA activities? Special needs teachers, want interactive reading activities and kids book crafts? Here are hands-on ELA activities for preschool to high school. Use free or cheap recycled materials for children’s literature response lessons. Reading activities are based on HOTS (Higher-Order Thinking Skills) of analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation.
* Personal dictionary book crafts. As a homeschool parent, I developed this activity teaching Latin. Use for any language instruction or children’s literature response lesson plans. Kids create dictionary notebooks, adding new words, phrases, idioms, expressions and vocabulary they encounter. Label pages with letters. Common ones get 2-3 pages. Enter vocabulary and phrases, look up definitions then explain in their own words, use in a sentence and illustrate.
* Reading activities journals. Design and decorate children’s literature response notebooks as book crafts. Have children illustrate stories they’ve read (or heard). Illustrating make great hands-on reading activities. Sequence events in graphic cartoons. Journal feelings, questions, concerns, inferences, predictions about content. Make text to text, text to life and text-to self connections. Personalize. Describe similar experiences. Explain how story applies in real life. Analyze characters. Explore choices and outcomes. Plot events in history and place. Explore cultural milieu. These ELA activities help kids relate to content.
* Encyclopedia scrapbook reading activities. Create knowledge repositories based on non-fiction works read. Make information visual and chart or graph data. Write or draw how-to instructions. Illustrate concepts with diagrams and timelines. Make graphic cartoons demonstrating sequence. Photo copy (with permission) related primary sources. Apply scientific process. Conduct related experiments and record findings. List potential applications. Describe new uses. Organize alphabetically. These ELA activities teach ownership of learning.
* Shadow box book crafts. This works well as children’s literature response ELA activities on historical novels. Collect or make artifacts from based on children’s literature response books (may be symbolic): miniatures, plastic toys, stamps, fabric, game pieces. Photograph, photocopy or draw examples of things referenced: pictures, toys, structures, buildings, vehicles, silhouettes, posters, advertisements, accessories, clothing, tools, stationery, greeting cards, play bills. Create shadow boxes with compartments or use a picture frame. Real Simple shows you how. The most-ecofriendly way to make a shadow box is from egg cartons. Pin or glue items in sections. Sequence in story time line and label. You could also place items in pocket charts (shoe organizers with plastic pockets make awesome pocket charts).
* Book crafts of shoebox dioramas. Place shoebox inside lid so lid stands upright. Draw a scene on inside of lid. Use toy figures and dolls to represent characters. Use doll furniture and vehicles for settings. Use miniatures or game pieces for props.