Rules by Cynthia Lord Activities

Rules by Cynthia Lord Teaching Activities

If you’re looking for a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel about friendship, family, and the power of acceptance, look no further than Rules by Cynthia Lord.

This Newbery Honor book follows the story of Catherine, a twelve-year-old girl who struggles with balancing her love for her brother, who has autism. Catherine wished to live a “normal” life. When she meets Jason, a nonverbal boy who uses a wheelchair, she begins to learn important lessons. Catherine thinks about empathy, understanding, and the true meaning of friendship.

Rules is a beautifully written and sensitive portrayal of the challenges and joys of growing up and learning to see the world through someone else’s eyes. With its relatable characters, engaging plot, and important themes, Rules is a must-read for anyone who wants to be inspired and moved by a truly exceptional novel.

Rules by Cynthia Lord Teaching Activities

Book Unit Samples

Rules by Cynthia Lord Novel Study Samples

This sample contains…

  • Vocabulary Practice for Chapters 1-2
  • Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
  • Constructed Response Question – Character Traits – Catherine

Teaching Idea #1 ~ Using a Communication Board

Rules by Cynthia Lord Teaching Ideas

I created this communication board to use with the novel Out of My Mind; however, it is a great activity to use with the book Rules as well. Jason uses an album of cards to communicate. In the story, Catherine is frustrated by this limited means of communication, so she makes Jason additional words.


  1. One student will randomly draw a request slip from the stack.
  2. The student will read the strip without showing his/her partner
  3. The student will then try to make the request using only the “Communication Board” with no verbal instructions.


  • Which questions were the most difficult?
  • How did you feel when you couldn’t make your partner understand your request?
  • What words do you think should be added?
  • How would you draw words like gross, beautiful, or frustrated?

Teaching Idea #2 ~ Autism

Rules by Cynthia Lord Teaching Ideas

Rules is a great book for introducing students to autism and the challenges that individuals with autism face. Students can research autism, create presentations, and discuss how the novel portrays autism.

This is a Google Slide activity. Save the file to your Google Drive to make it editable.

Teaching Idea #3 ~ Compare and Contrast

Rules by Cynthia Lord Teaching Ideas

Here are some ideas for Venn diagrams that compare and contrast characters, settings, and themes in Rules by Cynthia Lord:

  1. Catherine and Jason
  2. Summer and Winter
  3. Friendship and Acceptance
  4. Rules and Flexibility
  5. David and Jason
  6. Small-Town and Big-City Life
  7. Empathy and Understanding

Get the activities needed to complete this activity. You will find the list with instructions as well as a printable Venn diagram. Sample answers are also included.

This is a Google Slide activity. Save the file to your Google Drive to make it editable.

Teaching Idea #3 ~ Children’s Books with Characters who have Special Needs

Rules by Cynthia Lord Teaching Ideas

In this printable, students compare two or more characters that have special needs. This list offers suggestions; however, several of the printables are open-ended. Simply add characters from stories your students have read.

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  • Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
  • Al Capone Does my Shirts by Gennifer Chodenko
  • The Cay by Theodore Taylor
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
  • Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker

Teaching Idea #3 ~ Audiobook

See the product that inspired this post.

Rules Novel Study

Rules Novel Study includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.  

Gay Miller

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