Activities to Use for Any Novel Study

Each year I like to do a different novel study with my students. This year I chose the book, "The City of Ember" because it fit in nicely with my science and social studies units (Light and Sound for science and Ancient Civilizations for social studies).

We did so many great activities throughout this unit that would work well for ANY novel study so I thought I would compile a list for you!

Read on for a list of great activities you can do with ANY novel study!

As I said above our recent novel study was for The City of Ember. My students looooved this book! We previously had read Tales of a Fourth Grade nothing which they also enjoyed but they were much more engaged with this novel. I mean, every day they would ask, "Mrs. S. can we read City of Ember today?". I did warn them ahead of time NOT to watch the movie until we finished the book, because the movie is no where near as good! 

Anyway, on to the list!

Activities to Use for ANY Novel Study:

1. Summarize! We happened to be working on summarizing so I had my students summarize each chapter in a few sentences. With 20 chapters in this book it gave them a lot of practice. I gave them only about 6-7 lines to write their summary so they couldn't go overboard. 

2. Diary Entries - Throughout the novel, I had students write diary entries from the point of view of various characters. Most of the time it was the main characters (Lina and Doon) from the City of Ember. But I also chose characters with lesser roles as well and sometimes those diary entries got the best responses. 

3. Write a letter to a character - Students got to be themselves this time and write a letter to a character of their choosing. We did this during our letter writing unit so it gave them some extra practice. 

4. Comprehension Questions - For this to work you have to read the novel before hand yourself so that you can come up with some appropriate questions. I didn't have time to read the whole City of Ember novel before reading it to my students so I just kept one chapter ahead of them and would come up with comprehension questions each week. You can see a sample below of the types of questions we did. Throughout the novel, I included various types of comprehension questions like inferring, making connections, visualizing, predicting etc. 

5. Act out a scene - Divide your class into groups and assign each group a different scene to act out. My students had so much fun with this! 

6. Interview a Character - Have students create interview questions for a mock interview with a character. You can stop there, but we took it one step further and we had another student pretend to be that character so they could interview them and record their responses. This was another favourite activity for my students. 

7. Create a timeline of events - We made a large timeline in our classroom on a bulletin board. As major events happened we added them to the timeline. We found this helpful during our small group discussions as students would pose questions or share their wonderings....they were able to refer back to the timeline and say things like, "I think I know what's going to happen because if you look what happened here it's like the author was giving us a clue about what is going to happen". You could also have students do an individual time line in their reader's notebook. 

8. Recreate an event from the story - This is another hit with my students every time! When we read Freckle Juice by Judy Blume we actually made freckle juice to try out. For City of Ember I staged Assignment Day and had each student pick a job. I pretended to be the mayor, I spoke like him and dressed like how I thought he might look (an old suit and a bowler hat). I typed out job descriptions for each job and then had them write about why they were the best person for the job. They were so into this activity! I had kids acting like Lina and Doon, they really had fun with it.

9. Create a Book Trailer - There are many websites you can use to show your students book trailers but I really like this one because it's all student made book trailers. There are many on You Tube as well.

10. Watch the Movie! - If there is a movie that goes with your novel study, watch it after you have read the book. Nine times out of ten your students will have liked the book much better. That was definitely the case for City of Ember and my students. They couldn't believe the differences (like what's up with that weird rat/mole/giant animal that is no where in the book!). 

11. After watching the movie we did a compare and contrast activity. Some students used a venn diagram to compare and others wrote in paragraph form.

12. Compare and contrast the characters - Choose 2 characters from the same book OR pick one from the current book you are reading and another from a previously read book. 

13. Rewrite the Ending - Sometimes kids (and adults) are disappointed with the ending because it may or may not be how they envisioned the story ending. This gives them a choice to make their voice heard.

14. Tweet the Author - Many authors will respond to tweets from their readers. Students can also read tweets from the author and see what others have tweeted to them.

15. Create a Facebook Page - Students can create a Facebook page belonging to one of the main characters. This could work for any social media site, you could have them create a Twitter feed, Pinterest feed, Linkedin Profile etc. for the main character.

16. Create a "Wanted Poster" for a main character.

17. Have students come up with a theme for the novel and then they have to come up with reasons to support their idea. 

18. Write the next chapter -  With City of Ember we did this for the last chapter and then we shared all of our endings before we read the actual ending. That was a blast!

19. Paint the Setting - OR use pastels, colored pencils, or whatever medium you choose. We did this in art class for City of Ember and used pastels. It was so interesting to see the differences and similarities in what students were visualizing. 

20. Integrate Science - Have your students design a tool to make the main character's life easier. Depending on what science unit you are working on they can incorporate certain properties from science. For example, in City of Ember, light is important. We happened to be learning about light and sound in science so I had to students create a tool and it had to use the properties of light and/or sound to make one of the character's lives easier. 

21. Skype with Another Class - If you are able to find another class to Skype with that happen to be reading the same book, you can host a book discussion. Students can share their favorite parts of the book, ask students in the other class what they thought about certain parts etc. This could also work within your own school where you get together with another class. 

22. When the novel is finished have students create a plot diagram.

23. Pretend you are a character and introduce the other characters to the class. This one is a really great drama activity!

24. PA Announcement Book Advertisement - This was soooo much fun for my students and incorporated their media studies mark as well. Students got together in pairs and wrote a short advertisement for the book they were reading (we did this for individual novel studies, not a whole class read aloud). Then during our whole school morning announcements I would have one or two students present their book advertisement. 

25. Write a job application for a character and fill it in.

26. Design a New Cover! - I remember doing this as kid! We did it at least once a year as part of a novel study. I'm not sure how I forgot about it but I just remembered about it this year. After they were completed we voted on the one we liked the best.

27. Use Canva's FREE Venn Diagram maker to compare and contrast characters in the book, or one book to another book.

Share your novel study activity ideas in the comments below! I would love to hear from you!

If you're looking for my printable and digital City of Ember Novel study you can find it by clicking here. My Refugee novel study can be found here. You can find my novel study for A Wrinkle in Time by clicking here.

If also got a ton of activities specific to the novel Refugee that you can read about in this blog post here.


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