Charlotte’s Web Activities

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White is a wonderful book to study in the classroom. The following ideas for Charlotte’s Web activities will enhance any book study and make learning fun! 

Charlotte's Web activities and book

First, let’s look at the reasons to teach novel studies:

  • Student exposure to plot structure and new vocabulary, which has an enormous impact on their own language development and writing skills
  • Novel studies also allow students to experience things they wouldn’t have done otherwise
  • They help students to see events from others’ point of view
  • They allow students to develop understanding and skills to make sense of different situations
  • And, of course, for enjoyment and to promote their love of reading

The story of Charlotte’s Web, in which a spider tries to save the life of a young pig on a farm, covers many important themes including friendship, determination, teamwork and growing up.

Some key Charlotte’s Web activities that I like to use during the novel study include:

Character Studies

Character studies are a key element of a novel study. It is through the characters that the reader experiences the events of the story. I like to get my students to complete character profiles on the key characters including details on personality, relationships with others and how they change and develop as the story progresses. In addition, character comparisons are a great way to get students thinking about how different characters react to situations in the story.

Setting Activities

I love getting my student to use their senses to describe settings within a novel. I ask my students to imagine they are on the farm in Charlotte’s Web and to describe what they see, smell and hear. Charlotte’s Web is great for evoking these senses. This a key opportunity to develop descriptive vocabulary, so I have my students work in talk partners to describe the setting verbally before beginning their writing.

Reading Strategy Activities

During the novel study, it is important to develop those key reading strategies. My students think about and make connections between the novel and themselves. the world and also other novels. Thinking about cause and effect of key events is also important during the novel study. We also work in summarizing the key events in the chapters within the novel. 

Writing Tasks

This is where the students can really show their creativity and become fully immersed in the novel and really empathise with the characters. Some writing tasks I enjoy doing with Charlotte’s Web include letter writing to key characters, writing instructions on how to make a spider web, exploring dilemmas (should Wilbur continue with his escape or should he return to the barn?), describing how the characters show they are a good friend and writing a newspaper report on the writing in the web.

Vocabulary

In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur learns many new words from Charlotte. This is a key opportunity for students to find out the definitions of new words they may not have come across before. This includes developing dictionary skills. I also like students to think about the words Charlotte has written in her web and why she has chosen those words to describe Wilbur.

Cross Curricular Charlotte’s Web Activities

A novel study is great opportunity to learn new facts about the subject of the book. In Charlotte’s web, some of my favorite cross curricular tasks include researching the spider life cycle, creating fact files on how to look after a pet and learning about farm animals.

The above are some of the activities that I incorporate into a novel study of Charlotte’s Web. If you’d like to try the activities mentioned, I have saved you the time and effort of creating them with this useful Charlotte’s Web Novel Study Unit.

Charlotte's Web activities preview

The unit includes full teaching instructions and ideas for implementing the activities. Also included are activities on character, setting, vocabulary work, reading activities and summarizing.

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The novel study also includes Charlotte’s Web activities by chapter. There are multiple choice comprehension quizzes on all chapters in the novel with answers included for you to assess your students’ understanding.

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You can grab Charlotte’s Web Novel Study here!

Close Reading Strategies

In this blog post I’m going to discuss how I teach close reading strategies in my classroom with a focus on non-fiction. Close reading means to read a text more than once in order to develop a greater understanding of the text. When teaching close reading strategies, I work with small groups of no more than six students, whilst the rest of the class rotate around independent reading activities.

Close reading strategies pile of books

Before reading

Firstly we look at the overall layout of the text together before starting reading. We focus on organisational features, title and briefly scan the text. What do students predict the text is about? Is it fiction/ non-fiction? What is the genre? Have they seen a similar text previously? Before the first read the student begin to form ideas about the text based on their own experiences and knowledge.

 

The first read

I encourage students to annotate the text, i.e. highlight any words they are unsure of, anything that they find particularly interesting or something they’ve learned.

Students then read quietly to themselves.

I then focus on the new vocabulary students have highlighted. I model reading the sentence around the word and putting it into context. ‘Can we work out what the word may mean using the sentence around it?’  Students then apply this skill to their own highlighted words.

We also discuss parts of the text the students may have annotated. What did they learn? What did they find interesting?

I use sentence openers and for partner discussion about what the text is about. These could be basic ‘W’ questions such as ‘Who…’, ‘What…’, ‘Where…’, ‘When…’. sentence starters to get an overall basic idea of the text.

 

The second read – introduce close reading strategies

We then move on to the second read. This a more in depth read where the student really delve deeply into the text and dig out meaning.  When applying close reading strategies for elementary students, I like to concentrate on one area of comprehension This could be making connections, inference or main idea, for example.

If focusing on the main idea. I ask the group to summarize particular sections or paragraphs to draw out what the focus is. Which parts are relevant to the key idea? We may look for evidence to support their ideas, which I draw out through questioning. This is where ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions come into play. These could be, ‘How do we know…?’, ‘How does the text say..?’ ‘Why does…? , ‘Why do you think…?’  I usually ask students to discuss their responses in pairs.

 

Finally – summarize close reading strategies used

I like to summarize the session by bring the group together to share their responses to the questions and I encourage students to support their ideas by backing up with with evidence from the text. We summarize the close reading strategies we have used and how they have helped us to develop a greater understanding of the text.

 

Of course, there are many ways of teaching close reading skills, but this is they way I find particularly useful for my students.

 

Finding reading passages for non-fiction texts can be challenging, so I created some of my own based on animals. I have six sets including rainforest animals, arctic animals, African animals and Australian animals. The can be used for group instruction or for independent student work. They cover a range of close reading strategies and comprehension skills from summarizing to vocabulary development to reasoning. They come complete with student response sheet and answer keys to save you time.  Both US and Uk spelling options are included in each close reading set. They are available here in my Teachers pay Teacher store, where you can save 25% when purchasing as a bundle. You can also download my Mountain Animals Close Reading set completely FREE!

Close reading strategies mountain animals worksheets

Close reading strategies comprehension text and questionsHow do you teach close reading? Id love to hear your thoughts.

 

Guided Reading

I decided to give my Guided Reading Resource Pack a make over. Its cover was looking a little tired so I gave it a fresh new look!
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In the pack you will find student response sheets based on character, setting and plot. They can be used with any fiction book. Also included are word work response sheets. These focus on adjectives, verbs, adverbs as well as dictionary and thesaurus work.
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A selection from the pack. Much more is included!
I love using question cards during guided reading. They are great for discussion prompts and also something for early finishers to answer whilst waiting for everyone to finish reading the text! There are 48 question cards altogether included in the pack. They are based on character, setting, plot and language, I laminated the cards and have used them over and over!
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I love being prepared and organized for guided reading and I have also included covers for each of your guided reading group folders as well as a group recording sheet to record your student responses during the session.
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Happy guided reading!

Reading Strategy Posters

Hi everyone,

I have been using my Jungle Themed Reading Strategy Posters this past year. They have been absolutely fabulous in helping my students remember strategies to decode words.

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The Beanie Baby characters are so memorable and my students have found them so helpful in remembering the decoding strategies. They have really helped build my students’ independence and fluency when reading. Download all seven posters here for FREE now at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!