Homeschoolers, need cheap, homemade language arts lesson plans? Special needs teachers, want interactive reading games? Here are hands-on reading activities for preschool to high school. Use cheap, recycled materials. Lessons are based on HOTS (Higher-Order Thinking Skills): analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation.
* Personal dictionary. Homeschooling, I developed this activity teaching Latin. Use for any language instruction. Kids create dictionary notebooks, adding new words, phrases, idioms, expressions and vocabulary they encounter. Label pages with letters. Common ones get 2-3 pages. Enter vocabulary and phrases, look up definitions then explain in their own words, use in a sentence and illustrate.
* Reading response journal . Design and decorate literature notebooks. Illustrate stories read (or heard). Sequence events in graphic cartoons. Journal feelings, questions, concerns, inferences, predictions about content. Make text to text, text to life and text-to self connections. Personalize. Describe similar experiences. Explain how story applies in real life. Analyze characters. Explore choices and outcomes. Plot events in history and place. Explore cultural milieu. Kids learn better when they relate to content.
* Encyclopedia scrapbooks. Create knowledge repositories based on non-fiction works read. Make information visual. Chart or graph data. Write or draw how-to instructions. Illustrate concepts. Diagram. Make timelines. Make graphic cartoons demonstrating sequence. Photo copy (with permission) related primary sources. Apply scientific process. Conduct related experiments and record findings. List potential applications. Describe new uses. Organize alphabetically. This teaches ownership of learning.
* Shadow boxes. This works well for historical novels. Collect or make artifacts from books (may be symbolic): miniatures, plastic toys, stamps, fabric, game pieces. Photograph, photocopy or draw examples of things referenced: pictures, toys, structures, buildings, vehicles, silhouettes, posters, advertisements, accessories, clothing, tools, stationery, greeting cards, play bills. American Girl books provide good examples. Create a box with compartments or use a picture frame ( Real Simple shows how). The most-ecofriendly way to make a shadow box is from egg cartons. Pin or glue items in sections. Sequence in story time line. Label.
* Book shoe box dioramas . Place shoe box inside lid so lid stands upright. Draw a scene on inside of lid. Use toy figures and dolls to represent characters. Use doll furniture and vehicles for settings. Use miniatures or game pieces for props.