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!

Maniac Magee Lesson Plans

All students love Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee!  Scroll down to print free Maniac Magee lesson plans and a test.

 The unforgettable characters and the legend of Maniac paired with a plot that deals with real issues and family life create the perfect realistic story.  In the classroom, this book lends itself perfectly for an independent or whole-class study.  Before starting your own Maniac Magee lesson plans, we recommend listing literary techniques and passages from the book to study.  For example, the Finsterwald’s backyard is described in chapter 5 of this novel.  This description is captivating, mainly because of the metaphor, imagery, and humor in it.  After reading the description, we have our students write their own description, mimicking Spinelli’s writing style.   In the students’ description, they must describe the yard as if it is the nicest place in town instead of the worst.  With activities such as this one, students are not only examining the literary elements of imagery and metaphor, but they are also growing as writers by studying the author’s craft.  

You can download the handout for this Maniac Magee writing activity in the link below.

In our teaching unit, the Maniac Magee lesson plans handouts guide students in analyzing literary elements, such as dramatic irony, conflict, and theme.  In addition, we  provide printables that teach students to study the author’s craft by taking a look at things such as Spinelli’s word choice and creation of realistic characters.  

We would like to share some of our printables from our Maniac Magee lesson plans with you.  Just click the link below.  If you like these lesson ideas, consider purchasing our entire unit.  Buy it one time, and use it for years.  Everything will be ready for you to print and teach.  Your planning – done!  We hope you enjoy the free lessons!

Click here to download our FREE sample packet for Maniac Magee which includes handouts for chapters five, six through eight, and a test!

Duffy’s Jacket Lesson Plans

My favorite story to read in October around Halloween time is “Duffy’s Jacket” by Bruce Coville.  Click the link below for a FREE handout to help you teach this awesome story!

It can be read in one class period, it is highly suspenseful, and I can bang my hands on my podium at just the right point in the story and get a nice scream out of my students!  They absolutely LOVE this story, and they hang on to every word.  This is why I read it out loud to them.  I do not stop to discuss the plot or characters or any other literary device because they would certainly protest and roll their eyes, or worse, read ahead!

Once we are done with the story, however, I have plenty of time to include some good Common Core activities.  This story lends itself perfectly for a discussion on how the setting affects the plot.  It also is a great text to analyze suspense and how foreshadowing helps create it!  Check out a sample packet that I have put together for this story by clicking the link below.


Download a FREE sample packet to teach “Duffy’s Jacket” by clicking here!

After Twenty Years Lesson Plans

“After Twenty Years” by O. Henry is a great story for students to read out loud!   Read on to see how I teach this story, and print a free handout in the link below!

In my classroom, I require my students to complete a close read of the first paragraph.  This first paragraph can be intimidating to some middle school students because  it is not easy for many of them to understand, so the close read works perfectly.  Next, we preview some of the vocabulary words. I give my  students a handout with some of the most difficult words from the story and ask them to match the words with their definitions.  You can print this handout in the link below.

Once we are familiar with some of the vocabulary, we read the story readers’ theater style.  This allows students to build fluency in a successful way and really keeps them awake and involved in the story.  After we are done reading, we are ready to cover some Common-Core standards!  This story lends itself for the author’s craft and theme to be analyzed; so together, we take a look at the imagery, foreshadowing, and irony from the story.  Last, but not least,I end the week by allowing students to work collaboratively to create a tableau.  Students have a lot of fun with this activity!

We have created ready-made handouts for all of these activities, including a walk-through guide of completing a close read and a readers’ theater script!

Download the table of contents, and print our vocabulary preview handout for “After Twenty Years” free!

Double Dutch lesson plans

The novel Double Dutch is perfect for a whole class read or an independent novel study.  However, in our classrooms, we use this book as a choice on our book club list.  Students in book clubs read the book independently and then get together three times to complete activities and discuss the novel.  We would like to share some of our Double Dutch lesson plans with you!  The download will contain activities for the following literary elements:  Chapter 5 – making inferences and drawing conclusions, chapter 6- allusions, chapter 7- point of view, chapter 8 – theme.

Click here to download free printables from our Double Dutch lesson plans!

If you like these free handouts, consider purchasing our complete teaching unit so you will have all of our Double Dutch lesson plans and printables.  All of your plans will be complete, and you can use them for years to come!

While we use this novel as a book club choice, it is also perfect for a whole class read or an independent novel study.  Our seventh graders love this book!  And while it is about double dutch, it’s perfect for both girls and boys.  The Tolliver twins, Randy, and Delia all have secrets, and this is one thing that makes the book such a page-turner!  We hope you enjoy the free lessons.  Happy teaching!


“The Ruum” Common Core Activities and Test

“The Ruum” by Arhur Porges is most likely the hardest story in our seventh grade Literature book  for students to read.  This means the story is perfect for a “close read”.

The problem is that many students just don’t know how to read closely.  After I had my students read several paragraphs and groan the ever familiar, “I don’t get it”, I decided to give them a little help.  I split the story into sections and created an active reading guide.  This guide takes portions of the text and asks questions to help them along the way.   After following the guide for half of the story, students read the second half and took notes on their own.  I have found this the best way to teach students to complete a close read!

Click here for a FREE portion of the active reading guide that I use to teach this great story!

The Great Gilly Hopkins lesson plans

Want to hear some good news?  This post has a free The Great Gilly Hopkins lesson plans preview lessons for you to download!  In my classroom, I offer The Great Gilly Hopkins as a choice for literature circles, but this book will also work perfectly as a class read or as an individual novel study.  

It is often hard to incorporate Common Core standards into activities students are completing on their own or in a small group.    One of the activities that students enjoy with this novel is completed after reading chapter four.  In this chapter, Gilly receives a letter from her mom.    I have each member of the Gilly lit circle group reply to this letter by taking on the persona of Gilly herself.  This requires the students to really understand her inner thoughts and feelings and conflicts. After the students in the literature circle have all written their own “Gilly letter”, I have them swap letters and then respond to Gilly from mom!  Both activities require my students to delve back into the chapter and revisit the text.  This is the kind of activity that is included in our The Great Gilly Hopkins lesson plans packet.

Click the link below to print the instructions for this activity and print some other free handouts as well from our Gilly Hopkins Teaching Unit.

Print FREE lessons and handouts for the novel The Great Gilly Hopkins.


Because of Winn-Dixie Lesson Plans

Here’s good news!  This page has a link to free Because of Winn-Dixie lesson plans!  Yipee!  

Because of Winn-Dixie is a heart-warming story that makes a perfect class read-aloud or independent novel study.    Though this book is used in many elementary classes, it is also the perfect read for a middle school student.  In our classrooms, we use this novel as a book club choice, but our Because of Winn-Dixie lesson plans will work for a whole class read or independent novel study too. 

 Our lessons are based on language arts standards, so you will not find just plain generic activities for this novel. Furthermore, our entire Because of Winn-Dixie Lesson Plans unit will help you address Common Core standards. For example, the lesson on chapter 15 prompts students to not only find similes, but it also requires them to analyze the similes and to explain how the similes impact imagery.  You’ll see this activity in the free download link below. These handouts are ready for you to use for each chapter. With this packet, no prep is needed! All of the work is planned out for you! Use these ready to print activities to teach the novel as a whole-class read, for homework, for group work in literature circles, or as independent classwork.

Click the link below this list to print Because of Winn-Dixie lesson plans.   You’ll find a printable to examine the point of view used in the novel, a portion of a test for chapters 1-8, and a handout on using similes to create imagery.  Enjoy!

Download a FREE portion from our Because of Winn-Dixie Lesson Plans packet.