While all your fourth-graders may not yet love reading, they are at a perfect age to be turned into lifelong readers. Make reading an exciting part of your classroom by incorporating interactive and hands-on projects to accompany both independent reading and classroom reading. Reading projects can also be an opportunity to integrate art and technology into your classroom.
Taking a Journey
Many books for young people involve the hero taking a long journey. Create a map of the world in the book and put it up on the bulletin board. Read the story aloud and have students create a push-pin trail as the hero travels through the land. Have students take turns writing index cards about what happens at each push pin location. Some suggestions for books that you could use include "The Hobbit," "The Phantom Tollbooth," "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "Around the World in 80 Days."
After reading a book aloud, have students create a diorama that illustrates one of their favorite scenes in the book. Alternatively, assign each student a different chapter and have them create dioramas that illustrate the events of that chapter. Put the dioramas on display in the room in the order of the book's events. Have each student take two to three minutes to present her diorama to the class and explain what is in it. Books that might work well for this project include "The Secret Garden," "The Cricket in Times Square," any of the Magic Treehouse books, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "The Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three," "James and the Giant Peach" or "The Dark is Rising."
Divide students into groups of three to five people. Have them pick a picture book that all of them like. Then have them write a song about the story. Have each team design a music video based on the book they chose. You can either have them perform the music video as a live performance for the rest of the class or bring in video cameras and let them create their own YouTube-style video.
Audio Reading Blog
Create a yearlong reading blog for your class. Set it up on a website that the children can all access. Whenever a student finishes reading a book through independent reading, let her record a one-minute review of the book and post it on the blog. They can then share their reviews with friends and family.
This is a project that can be done with a single book or multiple books. After a book has been read, give each student a square of white cloth and fabric paint. Let them create squares about the book. Have them sign their names somewhere on the squares. You may also want to provide glitter, beads, paint or yarn for students to creatively decorate their squares. Then sew or use fabric glue to connect all the pieces into a large quilt that you can display in your classroom or in the hallway.
After a unit on mythology or fairy tales, have students put on a puppet show that retells the story. Have them make puppets out of socks, paper bags, cloth or craft sticks. Give each student a chance to tell a different part of the story. Consider putting the puppet show on for a younger class or for parents during an open house or parent visitation.
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