Novel studies are an essential part of any elementary classroom curriculum. Here I will share my favorite novel study activities for any book. Students gain so much from a novel study though analyzing characters, developing ready comprehension skills, story structure, vocabulary work and so much more. Novel study activities can include whole class activities, independent work, group work and guided reading. The best part is novel units are fun activities, they engage students and really help them to get the most out of the novel study. Here are my top activities for your elementary classroom novel study your students will be sure to love!
Draw a map
Have students draw a map of the story setting. This may be a real place or an imaginary setting. Students could draw on the locations in the setting. This could be characters’ houses or buildings in the area such as a shop or school. Maybe there is a forest or beach? Any journey the characters may make could also be plotted onto the map. Through drawing the story setting, the location really comes to life. Students are able to make connections between the various locations and it rally brings the action to life and enables students to visualize how the different parts of the story link together. If your story is an older story or an adventure story, I love staining the map with tea or coffee and crumpling it up and tearing the edges to give it that authentic distressed look, which kids love!
Create a study on the author of the book. Some questions to consider could be place and date of birth, interesting facts about them, i.e. did they do any other jobs prior to being an author? What other books have they written? This may inspire a student to read more of their books if they enjoyed the novel study. Do they have any collaborations with illustrators such as Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake. What inspired their stories? One great activity that my students absolutely loved was to write to an author. When I have done this with my class, some of the authors did write back, which my students absolutely loved!
Vocabulary novel study activities for any book
Have students create mini dictionaries of words in the story that are new to them. Students can research their meaning and add definitions to their personal dictionaries. Another very useful activity is to gather interesting words from the story and add them to a vocabulary wall. This could be a small display dedicated to the story. Students can then use the wall as a reference to use in their own writing. This is a great way for students to develop their own range of vocabulary.
Act out a scene
This is another super way to help bring the story to life. Students work in groups, taking on the roles of the characters and perform key scenes in the story. They could either word for word act out the story as described in the book, or they improvise and add their own reactions, delving a little deeper into the narrative and the main character and supporting characters. This is a creative way to allow students to empathise with the characters and it really helps them to understand their motivations and reactions. it can also help students to see the major events in the story in different ways and from another point of view.
As well as acting out the story, students could also do this by using puppets, such as with a finger puppet or creating their own with cut out on a popsicle stick. Decorate a cardboard box with two sides removed as your story setting scene. This will act as your ‘stage’ for the puppet performance.
Add a new chapter or alternative ending
Expand on a part of the plot that maybe is referenced too, but only briefly, and ask students to develop it, add character dialogue and description. Add another new sections, i.e. if the novel is an adventure story, as a new stage to adventure such as crossing rickety bridge in a jungle or meeting a new monster in a haunted house. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, add another room, or James and the Giant Peach, add another challenge to encounter when crossing the ocean. Students could use mind maps to sticky notes to record or develop ideas.
This is also great for predicting the next section of the book. Stop reading at a certain point and students write their own new chapter, predicting what happens next. Students could also write their own alternative ending to the story.
Make a new cover with blurb
This is one of my favorites! Students create their own book jacket for the story. On a landscape piece of paper, draw a vertical section around an inch wide down the centre of the page. This is the spine of the book. Students create their own over, spine and blurb for the back! Discuss how the blurb must intrigue the reader and make them want to read the story, without giving the ending away. A great activity for summarizing the beginning of the plot. Add fun features like a bar code, price and a publishing house logo!
Students could also use technology to create their own book trailer, enticing others to read the book! Similar to a movie trailer, students would use multi media such as video and sound to create their own trailer. This. a great way for students to develop digital tool skllls too.
For more novel study activities for any book, check out my Guided Reading Activities, packed with worksheets, printables, graphic organizers and fun no-prep activities perfect to use alongside any fiction book study across elementary grade levels!
Included are activities for characters analysis studies, story settings, plot structure, vocabulary work.
Reading skill activities including inferring, making connections and predicting are also included. These are a great tool for individual work, group work or to use as a prompt for class discussion.
Grab this great Guided Reading Activity pack here!
For more ideas, read my novel studies activity ideas specific to these great books:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory