Literary Strands Activity

Here is an activity that incorporates all 6 strands of literacy:

Note that other great strategies are available in the 50 Literacy Strategies book by Gail E. Tompkins.

This is an activity to teach students about hooks. 

Do this activity right after students have finished silent reading. Have a book on your desk and read students the first paragraph (the introduction / hook). Students are listening as you read this paragraph. Then have students put their heads down and represent with their thumbs whether they would read the book or not based on that paragraph. Everyone can then open their eyes and you can ask students stand up if they would read the book based on that first paragraph. Students view how many other students are standing. Do a “whip around” and ask students to share (if they are comfortable – they always have the option to pass) why they would read the book (speaking). Then ask the students who were not willing to read the book to stand up and share why not.

Then talk a bit about the characteristics of a good introduction / hook.

Next, split the students up into groups of 4 (they need to have been taught skills for effective group work before this). Each student should bring their book to their group of 4. Try to space the groups out as much as possible (e.g. use the hallway or other classrooms if you can so it doesn’t get too loud in the main classroom). One at a time, they will each read the first paragraph of their book to the other 3 students. The other students will listen and then represent with their thumbs (up, sideways or down) whether they would read that book or not based on the first paragraph. All the students will view each other’s thumbs to understand whether they would read the book or not. Then the students will go around in a circle and each tell the group (speaking) why they would or would not read the book. The other students will listen and then share their own perspectives. After the first book has been discussed, students will repeat this process for the other 3 books in the circle and each student will get a chance to read the introductory paragraph.

  • Note: the teacher will need to keep time and let the students know when to move on to the next student’s book.

After all the students have read their paragraphs, they can move back to their own desks. This would be a good exercise to use after they have started brainstorming around their “Writing Territories” and have a list of things they might write about as part of their Writer’s Workshop for example. Give students some time to write a few possible hooks for their story. If you can think of a few of your own hooks that you would start your story with, you can share it with the class first (while they listen). Give students a few minutes to brainstorm hooks (they may want to draw or represent their story in some other way while brainstorming) and then ask them to share (speak/listen) with a partner.


Here is another activity – artefacts 

Students are asked to bring in an artefact to represent something that is important to them. For example, a student might bring in a baseball glove because it represents the fact that he loves baseball or the good times he has had with his dad playing catch. Students are then given a worksheet which asks them to draw (represent) the artefact and write a paragraph about what the artefact is (describe it) and why they chose it (describe the meaning). After students have drawn their artefact and written the paragraph, they need to conference with a partner.

Once they are in pairs, they trade worksheets and each reads about the the other’s artefact view the picture (and the actual artefact if the student has it with them). Then they take turns and one student tells (speaking) the other student (who is listening) about their artefact and its significance. The student who is listening keeps the speaking student’s worksheet and writes down anything the speaking student says that is not already written down on the sheet. Then the speaking student can read the additions later. Then the students switch and the other student gets a chance to share about their artefact.

This activity could be done as part of a language arts unit or as part of a career education unit or any other subject (e.g. the student could include an artefact that demonstrates their learning around a science concept – e.g. from a place that is special to them – and write a reflection to accompany it that discusses what learning the artefact represents. They could then create a portfolio of their learning by including several artefacts).


Here is another activity – storytelling game from my unit plan