Activities for Literature Lessons

Looking for some quick (and free) activities for spicing up your literature lessons? These activities will work with any piece of fiction.

Extension or review ideas for literature lessons? 

Sometimes, we teachers need a list to get ideas flowing, a starting point. I am currently brainstorming ways to make literature come alive (a cliche, I know) for my students.

I want students to remember the characters and language of what we share together. That satisfied, exhilarating feeling from reading? My students should experience that.

I need activities for literature lessons that won’t cost a fortune or require a tone of prep. In prepping for myself, I hope I’m helping you. Here are twelve simple activities for literature lessons.

  • Hang blank “posters” around the room. Label the posters with important concepts for a graffiti activity. Use the student work to clarify any misconceptions and to start class discussions. 
  • Color! I give students guidance with literary coloring sheets, but you can ask them to draw pictures, doodle notes, or brainstorm examples on blank paper.
  • Ask for “audience questions.” Students can submit their inquiries anonymously, and you can close out the class period with these or begin the next class period with a common theme from the questions. 
  • Assign individuals, partners, or groups one or two elements for exit tickets. Compile student information for the next class period. 
  • Use graphic organizers as visual note taking sheets. Let students choose their sheets. 
  • Discuss advanced work. As a student, I once remarked that I had read The Little House in the Big Woods series. A teacher remarked that I would enjoy The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. (Female protagonist set in a historical setting.) She was right. Mention connections to students.
  • Discuss your reading. Summarize books, or highlight interesting parts of books. I can model a love of literature for my students.
  • Present the background information in various ways. Videos, old commercials, images, diaries… You can showcase the artistic allusions from the story to enrich the setting.
  • Sticky notes! Begin a class period by asking students to write one idea from the story: a character they dislike, the most memorable scene, the most maddening conflict – and compile the notes.
  • Color-code the characters. Julius Caesar would be purple for his royal and exclusive behaviors. What about Romeo? Odysseus?
  • Mentor sentences bring a new depth to literature. What makes a sentence memorable? quotable? Study the literature with a linguistic lens.
  • Name a song. Characters, books, and conflicts can have soundtracks. Bonus points if you can play it in class!

Literature extension activities can be low-prep and meaningful. Grab the markers and note cards to liven up literature discussions. #HighSchoolELA

Implementing various activities and bright spots into literature lessons can give students that spark to make them fall in love with reading. Students want the magic that stories bring to them, and with some inspiration and guidance from their teachers, students will experience it.

What “go to” method would you add for literature lessons? How do you dive deeply with students, and build an appreciation of literature? I’d love to add more to my lessons, and I hope these ideas give you a starting point.

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