Number the Stars lesson plans

Number the Starsby Lois Lowry, is a Newberry Medal award winning novel about the Holocaust.  This compelling story will hook your reluctant readers and pull them into an unforgettable story of friendship, courage, and hardships.  

Our lesson plans for Number the Stars will work perfectly for a whole class read, an independent novel study, or even an individual novel study.    We use this novel as a book club choice in our seventh grade classrooms.  

Print these handouts and a portion of a test by clicking here for our sample packet for Number the Stars.


If you enjoy this free sample, consider purchasing our entire teaching unit for Number the Stars.

Lesson Plans for Rules by Cynthia Lord

Rules by Cynthia Lord will keep your middle school students interested as they read about twelve-year-old Catherine and her autistic brother David.  Catherine just wants a normal life, but there is more than her younger brother that complicates that.   If you’re looking to print some lesson plans for Rules by Cynthia Lord, you’re in the right place!

We use this novel as a choice for book clubs, or as some call them – literature circles.  It’s the perfect read for a small group.  Of course, this novel would work well as a whole class novel or an independent novel study too.  When we developed our lesson plans for Rules by Cynthia Lord, we wanted to make sure we included activities that would allow students to analyze literary elements as well as the author’s craft.  We want to share some of these lessons with you!  The free handouts below take a look at the imagery and similes that the author uses in this novel.  There is also a portion of the final test for you to print!

Print these handouts and a portion of a test by clicking here for our sample packet for Rules by Cynthia Lord.


If you enjoy this free sample, consider purchasing our entire teaching unit for Rules.  All of your plans will be complete, and you will have this unit for years to come!

Lesson Plans for the Novel Small Steps

Small Steps by Louis Sachar is a story of loyalty and friendship.  Your students will not want to stop reading this awesome story! They will learn that doing the right thing is never a wrong choice; doing the right thing is a small step in the right direction. Scroll down to print free lesson plans for the novel Small Steps.

In our classrooms, we use this novel as a choice for book clubs, or as some call them, literature circles.  We would like to share a couple of our activities or lesson plans for the novel Small Steps.  After reading chapter three of Small Steps, we have students analyze Ginny and Armpit by taking a close look at this passage:

…A few neighborhood kids called her spaz, and retard, but most treated her with respect because she was a friend of Armpit’s and because she was willing to answer their questions.

Once this analysis is complete, students read an informational passage on cerebral palsy.  This allows students to gain a little understanding of Ginny’s disability.

After chapter seventeen, we take a look at allusion. Students receive a handout that explains this literary device.  Then, they look at some passages from the chapter and identify the allusions.  Finally, students are encouraged to be on the lookout for other examples of allusions as they complete the novel.  We offer bonus points to our students if they jot the allusion down and place it in our “Novel Finds” box!

Print these two handouts for chapters three and seventeen as well as a portion of a test for chapters 1-12 by clicking here for our sample packet for Small Steps.  If you enjoy this free sample, consider downloading our entire teaching unit for Small Steps.

Common Core lesson plans for Sarah, Plain and Tall

Sarah, Plain and Tall is an award-winning novel, and we’ve got the following free Common Core lesson plans from our Sarah, Plain and Tall novel unit.  Read on for the ideas, and make sure you click the link below to download FREE printables to help you teach this novel!

When we were writing our Common Core lesson plans for Sarah, Plain and Tall, my colleague and I wanted to make sure we had both activities that would help us examine the author’s craft and analyze literary elements.  We went through each chapter searching for one or the other and outlining what our activities would be like.  For example, after reading chapter one, we have students complete a chart in which they examine the characters.  For each of the characters  mentioned in chapter one, students jot down a description of who each character is.   Then students analyze the setting and the current conflict.  You can print the charts that we use in the link below.

Here’s another fun idea that we include in our Common Core lesson plans for Sarah, Plain and Tall!  After reading chapter six, we have students take a look at the original similes used in the chapter.  Then, we ask them to write some of their own original similes.  Sometimes we do this as a class, and other times we allow them to complete this activity in groups.  We have even had each student pick his/her very best simile, illustrate it, and showcase it or paste it into his/her literature interactive notebook.

Click here to download our FREE sample packet for Sarah, Plain and Tall, 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 Sarah, Plain and Tall.  All of your plans – done!  You only buy it once, but you can use these activities for years to come!  These activities are perfect to use in literature circles, as a whole class read, or for independent novel studies.

Lesson Plans for On My Honor

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer is a touching story of friendship, death, grief, loss, and honesty. Your students will not want to stop reading this awesome and powerful story!  Look at this packet to see how we use this amazing novel in our classrooms.  Read on for a few of our activities and lesson plans for On My Honor.

This novel is short and an easy page-turner.  When developing lesson plans for On My Honor, we wanted to make sure we took a look at literary devices and the author’s craft while at the same time appreciating such a powerful, moving story.  For example, after reading chapters four and five, we have students reflect  on what happened to Tony and make a prediction.  Then, students analyze the tone created with the author’s use of figurative language, symbolism, and specific words and imagery.     As the student’s analyze the author’s craft, they are provided with an unique look into Joel’s inner feelings.

After chapter nine, Students first revisit the text and spend time answering discussion questions.  Then, students analyze the dialogue.  After looking at Bauer’s craft, students write a dialogue for a hypothetical situation.  This activity allows students to grow as writers by studying this author.  We feel this is an awesome way to read and learn from a novel!  While we have used this novel as a whole class read, we currently use it as a choice for book clubs, or as some call them, literature circles.  This is the perfect book for groups to read, and it’s especially a good choice for reluctant readers.  It’s not too long, catches attention quickly, and pulls in the reader with a powerful story.  Check out some of our handouts below.

Print free handouts by clicking here for our sample packet for On My Honor.

If you enjoy this free sample, consider downloading our entire teaching unit for On My Honor.  All of your planning will be done, and you’ll have this resource to use year after year!



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.