The Dreaded Book Report, Part 1: Elementary School Edition

This post appears as an March 2013 article for MHEA's newsletter, News and Views.
The Dreaded Book Report, Part 1: Elementary School Edition

Let’s be honest. The traditional educational methods of yesterday just don’t cut it with these tech-savvy kids of today. In my experience, the quickest way to disengage a bright and curious elementary school-age child is to say two words: “book report”. As homeschooling parents, we have the opportunity to raise the bar and honor our young children’s unique and inherent creativity.
Here are 5 updated ideas on yesteryear’s “book report” to put them in the driver’s seat of their own literary education:

1. Create a board game based on the story complete with a board, playing pieces, rules and an objective. This is relatable to young students as most love games and all love to have a turn being in charge! Give them plenty of materials and allow them the time and space to create.
2. Construct a model of the setting in the book. This can be accomplished as a diorama or on a sturdy piece of cardboard with plenty of supplies. This activity is most enjoyable done in a group so students can bounce ideas off one another as each creates his or her own model.
3. Character Interview. Have the student prepare questions for others to ask while he or she is dressed as a favorite character from the story. This activity can also include a photo shoot for the extroverted child.
4. Create a comic strip of the novel. This will especially appeal to the fine artist and the independent worker. The secret to this activity is giving your student creative control over his or her project.
5. Create puppets or dolls of favorite characters. This activity can be as simple or as intricate as your student’s capabilities. Students may prefer to create costumes for existing dolls or action figures. This activity could culminate in a “show” for grandparents or relatives.

These are a just a few ways to inspire and encourage the raw material our children already possess by paying close attention to the passions that spark their interest.
We can get and keep our homeschoolers engaged in literature by celebrating it their way.

Watch for Part 2 of this article which will include ideas for making literature come alive for older students.

Heather Jones is a homeschooling mom of 4, including a homeschool graduate. With 3 boys, 1 girl, special needs and every learning style represented in her home, she finds home the most efficient place to educate with passion. Heather has worked as a graphic designer, a librarian and currently tutors homeschoolers in literature and humanities at Community Homeschool Tutorial.