Are you looking for some free activities you can use in your classroom right now to reinforce common core standards for ELA? You’re in the right place. Browse all our free plans here. If you need more, visit our shop and purchase a full version. We hope you enjoy these free resources!

Lesson Plans for The Island of the Blue Dolphins

Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins is an amazing story.  Read on for ideas, and print FREE lesson plans for The Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Wow!  I loved it when I read it with Mrs. McKenzie, my seventh grade ELA teacher, and I love using it in my seventh grade classroom each year with my students!  Boys and girls alike are quickly enthralled with Karana as she faces many exciting dangers on the island.  She battles fierce animal enemies, faces off with Russian hunters, and explores old, hidden cave.

Our lesson plans for The Island of the Blue Dolphins will help students appreciate the book and, at the same time, examine the literary devices and author’s craft.

The animals on the island provide many Common Core teaching moments!  For example, after reading chapter 16, students complete a mini-research project on devilfish.  Students brainstorm a list of all they have learned in the novel about devilfish, and then they make a list of questions they have about devilfish.  Finally it’s time to research. The final product – a poem!  🙂  Students don’t moan and groan as much when they see that they just have to present their findings in a poem.    Students are shown a sample poem written about komodo dragons and a rubric is used to score the projects.  It’s important to keep lessons fun yet also standards based, and that’s what we tried hard to do in our lesson plans for The Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Click below to download this activity.

A portion of the project handouts are given to you in an Island of the Blue Dolphins sample packet.

In chapter 18, specific facts about gulls, sea otters, and the cormorant are given.  Students are asked to skim back through the chapter looking for information on these animals and complete charts to emphasize what was learned.  You can use this activity for chapter 18  in your classroom today!


Lesson plans for Stargirl and Love, Stargirl – Great Literature Circle Ideas

When we started to use lesson plans for Stargirl with our middle school students several years back, we quickly fell in love with Leo, free-spirited Stargirl, and even Cinnamon!  We were able to enjoy Spinelli’s fantastic novel while also teaching Common Core standards.   What a wonderful combination!  I am including a sample from our lesson plans for Stargirl.   These handouts will let you see how we engage our students with important ELA standards throughout the entire novel.  After you look at the table of contents, you can purchase the entire unit for Stargirl and begin to use the unit in your classroom today.

Last year we started to use Love, Stargirl as a follow-up unit.  We did not have time to read the sequel to Stargirl as a whole class, so we developed a unit that allowed us to use Love, Stargirl as an independent read in two classes and a literature circle novel in two classes. Since Love, Stargirl is a letter (the “world’s longest love letter” no doubt!), we divided the unit into dates.  Each handout begins with comprehension questions to ensure students are “getting it”.  Many activities were created with support in the Stargirl unit so that students are likely to have successful experiences on their own or in a small group.  For example, an extended metaphor is written in each unit.

We have included the extended metaphor Love, Stargirl handouts in our sample for you to enjoy!

The Man Who Loved Clowns Lesson Plans

There is no other novel quite like The Man Who Loved Clowns!   Scroll down to download FREE printable handouts and The Man Who Loved Clowns lesson plans to teach chapters 1-3 of this novel. 

My seventh grade students absolutely LOVE this book, and I will most likely read it every year until I retire.  It will make you laugh; it will make you cry; and  you nor your students will ever forget it!  I run into students that I taught ten or fifteen years ago, and they say, “I still remember that book about Punky.”  It truly is an amazing story!

When we created our The Man Who Loved Clowns lesson plans for our teaching unit, we wanted to make sure that we used every opportunity to examine the author’s craft.  June Rae Wood weaves together such a heartwarming story, and it is not by chance that readers fall in love with her main characters. How is it that we love Punky so much?  What phrases and lines linger on in our memories?  How does she make us feel as if what happens to Delrita is happening to us too?  These questions make great discussions.

I want to share some of our lessons for this novel.  In August, we start reading this book.  Most chapters, I read aloud with my best voices for each character.  Some chapters I allow students to read readers’ theater style, and some chapters they read on their own.   We finish it in early October, and by then my students love my class, mainly because of Delrita and Punky, the man who loved clowns.

Download our FREE sample packet to teach The Man Who Loved Clowns.

This novel is perfect for a whole class read aloud, but would also be a great literature circle choice.

tales of a fourth grade nothing lesson plans

Fudge!  The beloved character created by Judy Blume is introduced in the novel tales of a fourth grade nothing.  Scroll down to read about some of our activities with this novel and to print FREE tales of a fourth grade nothing lesson plans.

While reading the novel, don’t think you have to worry about not covering Common Core standards.   You can ensure your students get the maximum educational benefit from their reading.  When we developed these tales of a fourth grade nothing lesson plans for our middle school students, we had our struggling readers in mind.  We knew that we could use this unit as a title for literature circles and even do some guided reading lessons with small groups.

Several of the common core standards we address with our tales of a fourth grade nothing lesson plans include interpreting figurative language (idioms as well as similes), correctly using capitalization, and completing an in depth analysis of a character.  You don’t have to wonder what character we give an in depth look at, do you?  Nope!  You are exactly right!  FUDGE!!

After we read chapter two, we really look closely at Fudge.   In chapter four, we look at several idioms that are often overlooked and pose a bit of a challenge!  Judy Blume’s use of strong verbs in her novel is our focus after reading chapter ten.  We have our students identify her verbs, then select a couple and practice using stronger verbs in a mini writing assignment.  With this activity, students easily learn that the nuances in verbs can have a huge impact on our sentences.

Now, we’d love to share these lesson plans with you!  If you click here, you are going to see the plans we use for chapters two, four, and ten. We have even given you a portion of a test we use with tales of a fourth grade nothing! Enjoy!

Freckle Juice Novel Unit

Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice is a classic, must read with your students.  Everyone is able to relate to Andrew as he wants something he can’t have. And, even though this is a novel that will have your students laughing, you can still use this Freckle Juice novel unit to teach Common Core standards!  Read on to see our reading focus for some of the chapters and to print FREE handouts from our Freckle Juice novel unit.

Hyperbole is explored and analyzed in chapter one.  We have students write a sentence that uses hyperbole that is of course about  – FRECKLES!

In chapter three, we use Blume’s craft to be sure our students  can distinguish shades of meaning among verbs that describe the same action.  We even have them act out the sentences from the story.  (Common Core Language Standard 5)   We use five sentences from the chapter, and students must pick out verbs such as crept and gulped.  Then, we laugh as they “creep into a room” and “gulp down a disgusting drink”.  Fun!

The kids in our classrooms even read an informational text to learn all about freckles!

Now, if you click here, we would like to share the handouts we use for chapters one and three of our Freckle Juice novel unit.  We have even given you several of our test questions for the Freckle Juice novel unit test.  Enjoy!


Hoot Lesson Plans

The first year that I decided to teach the novel Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, I did not want my Hoot lesson plans to simply consist of reading a chapter, answering comprehension questions, and discussing the plot diagram and conflicts.  So, I read the book chapter by chapter looking for literary techniques that could be analyzed and the craft of the author that could be examined and challenge my students to become better writers themselves.  I ended up with Hoot lesson plans with titles like “Beatrice and her Barbecue Sandwich” in which we take a look at Hiaasen’s brilliant technique of suspense and voice.  It was then that I fell in love with creating solid, standards-based fun lesson plans for novels.  It all started with this novel, Hoot, and I must say, I think it’s one of the best teaching units we have ever created.  

Scroll down to print free lesson plans for Hoot!

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen, is one of our very favorite novels to use in our seventh grade classrooms. Some years we use it as a class read.  Other years we use it as a book club choice along with Flush by the same author.  We’ve even used it as an individual novel study unit.

Filled with realistic and quirky characters, this book has just the right amount of humor and suspense to keep our students begging to read. We take a good look at Hiaasen’s craft, how he uses voice, suspense, imagery, and creates such realistic characters.  This book also has an omniscient point of view, so we examine that, as well as other literary devices such as irony and symbolism.

Many teachers have said so many kind words to us about our teaching unit for this novel.  We encourage you to try it out.

hoot free samples blog cover

Print our FREE sample packet for Hoot which includes a prereading activity, handouts for you to use for chapters 1-3, and a portion of a test!

The Watsons Go to Birmingham Lesson Plans

This post has a link for free The Watsons Go to Birmingham lesson plans.  Yipee!  Read on for the ideas, and make sure you click the link below to download FREE printables to help you teach this novel!

First, we wold like to outline a couple of activities from our The Watsons Go to Birmingham lesson plans.  After reading chapter one, for example, we have students complete a chart in which they examine the characters.  For each of the characters  mentioned in chapter one, students write two facts about the person, two descriptive words for the character, and find a quote that shows the character’s personality.   This ensures that students are returning to the text and defending their inferences with the text.  You can print the chart that we use in the link below.

Here’s another fun idea from our The Watsons Go to Birmingham lesson plans!  After reading chapter 15, allow your students to listen to the song “Yakety Yak”.  Then, ask them some questions about the song.  Also, Mr. Watson imitates a disc jockey in this chapter.  In the fashion of the one written in chapter fifteen, have your students create their own disc jockey rhyme.  You may want to allow them to complete this in groups.  You can download these two activities in the link below.

Click here to download our FREE sample packet for The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and you can print the handouts that we use in these two activities, plus a portion of a test!

If you enjoy these free samples, consider downloading our entire teaching unit for this novel.  You only buy it once, but you can use these activities for years to come!  Plus, all of your plans will be done!

The Tale of Despereaux Lesson Plans

“I honor you…”  These famous words from The Tale of Despereaux will ring in your students’ hearts long after they finish reading this novel.  Read on for some fun The Tale of Despereaux lesson plans, activities, and  ideas to use when teaching this novel, and be sure to print our FREE handouts and a test by clicking the link below!

There are many memorable characters in this novel, but Miggery Sow is definitely a heart gripper!  The reader feels sympathy for her as soon as we read about her clouts to the ear.  One of my really cool The Tale of Despereaux lesson plans involves an activity I used with my students this past school year.   The way Miggery Sow is treated reminded me of a country song.  So, I played the video of Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” by showing them the YouTube music video.  This song fits perfectly for Mig and her very mean uncle.  After watching the video, I had my students write a short paragraph explaining why the song is so fitting for Mig. Then, I challenged them to find songs appropriate and fitting for the other characters in the book.  They absolutely loved this, and when we were done reading, we had a vote and put together a sound track for the entire novel!

After finishing the book, I showed the movie.  The movie is very different from the book, and I wanted my students to take note of the differences so that we could discuss how these differences affected the plot.  I gave them what I will call an “active watching guide” so that they could take notes while whatching.  We held a discussion, and then I gave a test which compared the novel and the movie.  This provided a great opportunity for me to cover an important Common Core standard!

Click here to download our FREE sample packet for The Tale of Despereaux and you will have two printables and a portion of a test!  If you enjoy these freebies, consider downloading our entire teaching unit for this novel.  You’ll have handouts to help you teach each chapter as well as tests, including one to compare the novel to the movie.  You only buy it once, and you have it for years to come!  Plus, all of your plans will be complete!

Happy teaching!

Bridge to Terabithia Lesson Plans….

If you’re looking for Bridge to Terabithia lesson plans, activities, and printables, stay put.  There is a free download on this page for Bridge to Terabithia lesson plans below!

Katherine Paterson’s Newberry Medal novel Bridge to Terabithia is a gripping story about the unlikely friendship of a lonely boy and girl.  As their friendship grows, they create a magical kingdom in the forest.  This touching story will be one of your students’ favorite novel!  Read on for activities I use while teaching this book and to print FREE handouts!

Two of my most interesting activities I use while we read this book accompany chapters five and nine.  After reading chapter nine, I provide students with a handout that includes snippets of conversations had by both the Aarons and Burke families.  The students spend time thinking about the impact the use of dialect has on the development of the characters.  They infer why the author most likely used the dialect in the dialogue.

After analyzing the author’s craft in this chapter, when we finish chapter nine, my students are ready for some dialogue writing of their own.  In chapter nine, student’s take a careful look at the serious tone Jesse and Leslie use while they are at Terabithia. I mean, they REALLY use a serious tone!  We have to haul out the dictionaries to be sure we know the meanings of some of the words they use.

Then, my seventh graders practice writing a dialogue that they would have with a friend while visiting the magical kingdom of Terabithia.  They must use a formal tone in their written dialogue. Sure, these sassy scholars moan and groan after they first hear they have to actually write, but they get into it after a bit.  The last thing I have them do is choose a classmate to help them read the dialogue and bring it to life.  (Never hurts to have a bit of fluency practice!)

I have a free little Bridge to Terabithia packet you can download, and you are welcome to use the chapter nine activity.

 The packet also has handouts for chapters four and thirteen and even a few questions from a test!  If you enjoy this free packet, consider purchasing our entire unit.  Your plans will all be complete for you.  You will simply print and teach!  Best of all, you will have it to use year after year!

Happy Teaching!

The Cay Lesson Plans

If you’re looking for The Cay lesson plans, printables, or activities, you’re in the right spot!  The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a story of survival and friendship.  Your students will not want to stop reading this awesome and powerful story!

Scroll down to print free lesson plans/handouts for this novel.

After reading chapter one of The Cay, we have students analyze the setting by explaining how it relates to the main character.  We also have them pay attention to any historical information regarding the setting.  After chapter three, we take a look at Timothy’s dialect.  Students absolutely love reading Timothy’s dialogue.  We use another chart and have students translate what Timothy says in this chapter.

The Cay lesson plans and activities that we offer in our unit will engage your students and help them become better readers as they analyze the literary elements and author’s craft in this novel.

Print these two handouts for chapters one and three as well as a test for chapters 1-6

button free sample for novel unit

If you enjoy this free sample, consider downloading our entire teaching unit for The Cay.  You will have everything ready to print and teach!  Plus, you can save it and use it year after year!