Rules by Cynthia Lord Activities

Teaching Ideas for the Book Rules by Cynthia Lord

In the book Rules by Cynthia Lord, twelve-year-old Catherine must spend the summer without her best friend who goes to California for the summer. A new girl moves in next door. Catherine hopes her autistic brother does not keep her from making friends

Catherine spends much of her time taking care of her younger brother, David. She makes rules, so he will know how to behave in different situations and can better understand the ways others treat him. Catherine goes along with David twice a week to his occupational therapy sessions. At one of these sessions, she meets Jason. Jason is confined to a wheelchair and uses an album of cards to communicate. Catherine loves drawing and creates word cards with pictures for Jason’s album.

Catherine meets Kristi, the new next-door neighbor. Kristi is “cool” with pretty clothes, a fashionable room, and an air about her that says popular. Catherine builds up a friendship with Kristi. They play basketball, swim in the pond, and draw posters. Catherine is afraid to tell Kristi about Jason because she wants to be accepted.

Jason and Catherine develop a friendship as well. Catherine shows Jason what it is like to run by pushing his wheelchair really fast. Jason gets a new motorized wheelchair. The two go on a walk. Jason invites Catherine to his birthday party.

Read Rules to see if Catherine is able to balance her relationships with two very different individuals and manage her brother as well.

Rules Activities

Book Unit Samples

Free Samples from Rules by Cynthia Lord Book Unit

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

Free Communication Board Activity - Have students try to communicate using a communication board only to see how Jason feels in the book Rules by Cynthia Lord.

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?

Get the “Communication Board” and request strips here.

Teaching Idea #2 ~ Children’s Books with Characters who have Special Needs

The Whipping Boy Book

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


Teaching Idea #4 ~ On the Web

See the product that inspired this post.

Teaching Ideas to use withe the Book Rules by Cynthia Lord

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




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