Books can be a wonderful source of inspiration and information for upper elementary students. From biographies to graphic novels, books provide an opportunity for students to explore different topics and ideas while also developing their writing, comprehension, and creative skills.
By using book projects in the reading classroom, you can encourage your students to dive even deeper into the world of reading and have them find new ways to express themselves creatively!
What is a book project and why should you do one with your students?
You might be familiar with your classic book report from childhood - your teacher asks you to read a book of your choice and write a 1-2 page report about the book you read.
Book Projects are a twist to this! With book projects, students have control of the product they create to show understanding of the book.
Book projects are beneficial because they allow students to show their understanding by creating something that best fits with their learning style or personality type. Not everyone is keen on writing up a long essay on a book they just read. Some students don't feel confident in their writing skills, and some just don't like writing - period!
Whether it’s through a visual representation such as a diorama or comic strip or through an audio project like podcasting or storytelling, book projects provide an outlet for upper elementary learners to tap into their imaginations and share what they have taken away from the text with others - in a way THEY enjoy.
What are some ideas for book projects that upper elementary students will love and be engaged in?
There are so many ways you can use book projects with your upper elementary students. Here are just a few examples:
- Create a character scrapbook – Have your students create scrapbooks that showcase one particular character from the text. This should include photos (or drawings) of the characters as well as quotes from the text that reveal something about them and newspaper articles about their actions in the story.
- Make a board game – Ask your students to design board games based on certain scenes in the story or even around certain themes presented in it. This will require them to get creative with designing rules and objectives for each game piece!
Here's an example of one I made over 20 years ago in my 6th grade class based on one of my favorite books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I just had to keep it!
- Create a book trailer – If you have an iPad in your classroom and some techy students, then they might enjoy creating a book trailer using iMovie! It's easy to take one of the templates and bring a story to life. Students can use props and film scenes from the story around the school. This option works great if 2 or more students are reading the same novel!
- Build 3D models – Encourage your learners to bring scenes from stories to life by constructing 3D models out of various materials like clay or Legos! They could recreate famous settings or re-enact key events within novels using these materials.
- Create a podcast episode – If you have some students who LOVE to talk, then encourage them to create a podcast episode! You can have students create a solo episode with their favorite moments from the book, a summary or retelling of the book. Another option is to have a guest episode where a character of their choice comes on and they have to ask that character questions. The guest has to answer based on how they think they would respond.
Book projects offer upper elementary students an amazing opportunity to dig deeper into texts while developing their reading comprehension skills as well as unleashing their creativity through writing, art-making, storytelling, and so much more!
With so many types of projects available (and plenty more possibilities!), teachers can find countless ways to encourage their young learners’ exploration with books through engaging activities that promote both literacy development and self-expression at once!
Check out this blog post for some of my favorite chapter books for upper elementary that are perfect for students to conduct book projects!