June 2017 archive

My Father’s Dragon Activities

My Father’s Dragon

My Father’s Dragon tells the story of Elmer Elevator. Elmer runs away to a Wild Island to rescue a baby Dragon. Elmer must use two dozen pink lollipops, rubber bands, chewing gum, a fine-toothed comb, and other objects to tame fierce beasts. The rescue mission on Wild Island turns into quite an adventure.

Teaching Ideas for the Book

Free Printable Activities to use with the Book

Free Printables to use with My Father's Dragon

The printable contains

  • A Story Planner – Guiding questions help students plan a story. Students imagine Elmer has another animal encounter. Elmer must use something from his knapsack to tame the wild beast.
  • Writing paper with animals is provided.
  • Venn Diagram – Students compare My Father’s Dragon to their story.
  • Making Connections with Text – Two organizers are provided to use with the book.
  • Nutrition – Discussion questions guide students to evaluate Elmer’s diet during his trip.

Claymation –  My Father’s Dragon in 90 Seconds

This youtube video highlights only part of the book. It is excellent! Have students evaluate the video.


  • Why did the author skip part of the story?
  • How does the video help students better understand the story?
  • How could the video be improved?
  • What is the best feature of the video?

Free Audio Book

LibriVox records books that are in Public Domain. This excellent audio book is read by a child. You can download the entire story or listen online chapter by chapter.My Father's Dragon Free Audio Book

Online Book

If you are lucky enough to have laptops or iPads for your class, you may enjoy using an online version of the book. This one includes the images.

Online Digital Book ~ My Father's Dragon How to Fold and Origami Dragon

I love this video series. It is great to see the projects can be completed by kids. This episode shows how to make an origami dragon.

Teaching Ideas from Random House

This three page printable is from Random House. It includes the following:

  • Travel Brochure Instructions
  • Make Your Own Dragon
  • Character Web Printable
  • Outcome Prediction ChartFree Printable for My Father's Dragon from Random House

Storyboard That

Student activities from Storyboard That include:

  • Character Map Graphic Organizer
  • Plot Diagram
  • Summary
  • Making Predictions
  • Themes

Character Map for My Father's Dragon for Storyboard That

My Father’s Dragon Book Unit

If you would like to try out the My Father’s Dragon Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1 [oblige and furnace] plus Chapter 10 [irate and jackknife]
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapter 1
  • Constructive Response Question – Point of View
  • Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like

My Father's Dragon Book Unit

My Father's Dragon Book Unit



My Father’s Dragon Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities. Vocabulary, comprehension, constructive response writing, and skill practice are all included.

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: http://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4495

Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice

Weasel by Cynthia DeFelice is a historical fiction novel.

After the Removal Act of 1830, the U.S. government hires a man, known as Weasel, to remove the Shawnees from the Ohio Territory. Once all the Native Americans have fled, Weasel stays in Ohio. He then turns on the white settlers. 

One of Weasel’s victims is eleven-year-old Nathan’s pa. Nathan struggles between taking the law in his own hands and letting Weasel go.

Teaching Ideas for the Book

Book Opening Lines 

Great First Lines in Children's Literature

Weasel has a great opening line:

The dogs were dozing in their usual places by the fire when the knock came.

This free set of cards contains 20 cards with great opening lines from children’s literature. Have students sort the cards by type:

  • dialogue
  • question
  • vivid description
  • interesting fact
  • sound effect

Bringing Ezra Back by Cynthia DeFelice

Cynthia DeFelice reads from Bringing Ezra Back, the sequel of Weasel. The sequel takes place five months after the book Weasel ends. In the next book, Nathan sees a handbill advertising a show with a ‘white injun.’ Nathan plans to save Ezra from being an exhibit in the traveling show. He sets out from Ohio to Pennsylvania with Orrin Beckwith, a peddler. Along the way, Nathan encounters others who are both helpful and mean.

Book Covers

Compare book covers for the book Weasel.

 Weasel Weasel

 Weasel Book Unit

If you would like to try out the Weasel Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Reading Skill Page on Analogies
  • English Lesson on Plurals

Weasel Book Unit

Weasel Book Unit contains printables for

  • vocabulary
  • comprehension
  • constructive response writing
  • reading skill practice
  • English skill lessons
  • Activities

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: http://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4503

The Tiger Rising Book Activities

The Tiger Rising

As twelve year old Rob walks through the woods near his Florida home, he stumbles upon a caged tiger. The same day, he meets a girl named Sistine Bailey. Rob is full of bottled up emotions. Before long, he begins confiding his feelings with Sistine. Rob even shows Sistine the tiger. When she sees it, she insists they let it go. This leads to tragedy.

Teaching Ideas for the Book

Character Traits

Have students use easek.ly to create character maps of Sistine and Rob.

3D Tour of the Sistine Chapel

Sissy was named after the Sistine Chapel. Have students ‘visit’ the Sistine Chapel using this virtual tour.

3D Tour of the Sistine Chapel

Interview with Kate DiCamillo

Online Tiger Printables and How-Tos

Online Teaching Resources

Free Samples from The Tiger Rising Book UnitBook Unit Samples

If you would like to try out The Tiger Rising Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples including:

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-3 [harbor and astounded]
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-3
  • Constructive Response Question – Symbolism
  • Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like

The Tiger Rising Book UnitThe Tiger Rising Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities. Vocabulary, comprehension, constructive response writing, and skill practice are all included.

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: http://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4499

The Westing Game Book Unit Activities

The Westing Game

Newbery Medal winner The Westing Game will keep the reader guessing ‘who did it’ from beginning to end. The story opens with Barney Northrup selling apartments at the Sunset Towers. Only a selected group of tenants receive an invitation to purchase the luxury estate at affordable prices.

Once the tenants move in, sixteen are invited to a reading of Sam Westing’s will. The heir who can figure out how he died wins Westing’s entire fortune.

This page turner takes many unexpected twists and turns. Not until the last chapter will the reader know the guilty party.

Book Trailer

Wanted Posters

The Westing Game Wanted Poster

Use Storyboard This to create wanted posters for each of the 16 heirs.

3-D Setting Organizer

3D Setting Organizer for The Westing GameI love this idea by Susie Rios. Students not only draw the characters, but write about them inside the window flaps.

Character Trait Cards

Free Character Trait CardsWith so many suspects, students get confused about who is who. Download this free set of cards (including an answer key) to help students


  • Sort the character cards by the places the characters live, families they belong to, etc.
  • Use the cards to discuss suspects.
  • Make a T-Chart on a large piece of construction paper. Sort cards by guilty or not guilty as evidence is revealed.

Book Unit Samples

To prevent you from having to download multiple samples, I included everything in one download. The file includes the following. 

#1 ~ Sunset Towers Organizer

Free Printable to use with The Westing Game

#2 ~ Free Samples from The Westing Game Book Unit

Free Samples from The Westing Game Book Unit

#3 ~ Lesson 1 for Writing a Mystery

This graphic organizer helps students figure out the housing arrangements of Sunset Towers.

Try out the first lesson of


The Westing Game Book Unit The Westing Game

The Westing Game Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructive response writing, and skill practice.

Writing a Mystery UnitWriting a Mystery ~ A Common Core Unit

For teachers who would like just the Writing a Mystery without the full The Westing Game Book Unit, I have a product for you. 


Gay Miller


Permanent link to this article: http://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4731

The Dark is Rising Teaching Ideas

The Dark is Rising Teaching Ideas


Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son, learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the last of the ‘Old Ones.’ These are people with ancient knowledge of the Light. The Old Ones have special powers and a destiny to save the world. Will receives instructions to go on a quest to collect six signs. These six signs form a the completed Circle to ward off the forces of the Dark.

Readers cheer Will in hopes that he will be able to collect the signs in time to beat the Dark.

The Dark is Rising Teaching Ideas

Activity #1 – Character Bags

The Dark is Rising Character Bags

After reading the first few chapters of The Dark is Rising, students decorated bags with characters and symbols from the story. Attaching pieces of yarn, textured fabric, and the like gave the drawings a 3D effect. On the reverse side of the bag, students made predictions about what symbols and objects may be important in the story. As the students read, they brought in objects to fill the bag. At the end of the novel, the actual objects were compared to the predictions that were written on the back of the bags.

 Activity #2 Multiple Meaning Words Bulletin Board

In Lesson 6 of The Dark is Rising Book Unit, students studied multi-meaning words. One activity during this lesson is to purposefully misconstrue a multiple-meaning word to make a puzzle for others to solve.

See the bulletin board below with some of the students’ puzzles.

Multiple Meaning Words Bulletin BoardActivity #3 – Reading Makes You Bright

Affixes Idea

A second bulletin board idea came from Lesson 8 of the novel study on affixes.

Instructions for Students:  Stack the four pieces of paper together. Fold them in half vertically. Turn the folded paper so that the fold is at the top like a tent. Staple along the folded edge. Cut two slits beginning at the bottom and heading toward the top of your book to divide the book into three equal sections. Be careful not to cut the whole distance so your book will stay intact. You should have three flaps. You will write prefixes on the first flap, base words in the middle flap, and suffixes on the last flap. Try to think of base words that will give you the most real words possible with the prefixes and suffixes you have chosen.

After cutting out your ornament, glue your flip book onto your Christmas ornament. Flip through your book trying to find real words. Write each real word you find on your ornament.

Reading Makes You Bright Bulletin BoardActivity #4

If you would like to try out The Dark is Rising Book Unit before you buy it, these links contain free samples including:


Sample Vocabulary Practice


Sample Multiple Choice Comprehension &  Constructive Response Questions for Part One:  The Finding  Chapter 2 • Midwinter Day •

Skill Lessons

Lesson 2 – Inference, Drawing Conclusions, & Prediction

Activity #5 Artwork 

 Artwork for The Dark is Rising  Artwork forThe Dark is Rising

Have students describe the scenes that are taking place in each drawing.

Activity #6 Movie

Have students watch the movie version and compare it to the book. This free printable will help students compare and contrast.

Activity #7 Links on the Web

Activity #8 The Dark is Rising Book Unit

You can purchase this 400 page unit on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Organizers from The Dark is Rising Book Unit

The Dark is Rising Book UnitGay Miller

Permanent link to this article: http://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4501

Making Connections with Text Lesson #3

Making Connections with Text

Lesson #3

Bloom's Taxonomy

This is the third of three lessons on teaching ‘Making Connections with Text.’ If you missed the first two lessons you can find them here:

In this lesson students will read the story of Aladdin and make connections to the text.

The Lesson

Aladdin Story

Included in the printable is a three page printable story “The Adventures of Aladdin.”

The story is in the public domain, so it may be used freely. Here is the readability information:

Average Grade Level 6.1

You should be able to read the text out loud in approximately 14 minutes.

Vocabulary Words

  • mysterious
  • impatiently
  • cautiously
  • excitedly
  • obedient
  • sultan
  • respectfully
  • incredible
  • apparition
  • possessions
  • respectfully
  • astonished


  • hand to mouth
  • at their wits’ end
  • down to earth


Depending on the level and experience of your students, you may wish to read the story out loud to them. Stop and ask leading questions related to making connections.

Interesting Facts about Aladdin

  • The setting of the earliest Aladdin stories was China.
  • In early stories, Aladdin was not an orphan. He lived with his mother.
  • The popular Disney animated film of 1992 makes Aladdin an Arabian boy.
  • The genie in the Disney film was voiced by Robin Williams.
  • Williams would read each line as written in the script, but he would read it in 20 different character voices. This gave the producers a lot to choose from.

This eight-minute animated story “Aladdin and the Magician” has enough similarities and differences to make it a good version to compare to the text provided. 


Free Lesson on Making Connections with Text using AladdinThis download includes the three page story and organizers needed to complete the lesson.

Gay Miller

Permanent link to this article: http://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4446