Friday, June 27, 2014

Putting the Pieces Together: A Novel Activity

In cleaning up my computer, I came across these pictures of an activity I did three years ago with my friends.  I didn't remember posting about it, and in searching the blog I couldn't find it.  So, better late than never!

This activity was done towards the later part of the school year.  We had spend time learning all the story elements and vocabulary that goes along with it. We had learned how to effectively write summaries and peer edit.  We had plenty of practice working in cooperative groups where collaboration and good conversation are a must.  It was time to put it all together.

After we had read the novel Frindle by Andrew Clements, I broke my friends into strategic groups of five.  They were going to work together to identify the important details of each story element and summarize their section.  We were putting the puzzle pieces (of all we had learned) together!

Each color represents a different group.  Each puzzle piece, from top to bottom, represents a different story element: characters, plot, problem, solution, setting.  Using a graphic organizer, my friends worked with their group to outline what from the book (working on important information and detail vs. unimportant) must be included in each section.

Once the graphic organizers were completed and agreed on by the group, each member took one element and turned it into a written summary on their puzzle piece.  Some were longer than others and required us to staple a couple of pages together, but it all worked out. It was a nice mix of cooperative work combined with an element of personal responsibility for the finished product. If they had room, they also created small illustrations that went along with their writing. These are some samples below.

When all were done, we glued them on to a column of construction paper in order. To finish, they added some extra illustrations.  Each group then presented their summary of the book. When we were done, I hung them on the lockers outside my room.  If you are a regular reader, you know of my never ending quest for vertical display ideas for those darn lockers!

I can't remember where I got the puzzle pieces, but honestly they are something you could draw free-hand on white paper and just make some copies.  If you wanted to get fancy, you could make it so the puzzle pieces fit together in a rectangle and actually put the pieces together for a display that doesn't have to be vertical.  I did minimize two puzzle pieces on the copier for the top of each chart, one had the book title and author while the other listed the kids' names.

All in all, this was a good activity that allowed the kids to pull together all we had been learning in reading and writing.  You can also make this as simple or involved as you want depending on the ages group your are working with. Another plus is that it works with any book!


  1. Very cool idea! Thanks for sharing!!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. This is a great idea! I'll work on some puzzle pieces this summer! Very neat lesson!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. Clements is a great writer. I love using his books to show that a story doesn't have to be "over the top silly" or have a monster chasing the character in order for it to be entertaining. A great example of realistic fiction.