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- author Jackie French

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Ask Sheryl: Home-schooling lesson plans


Dear Sheryl,

I would like to know what I should include for a book study? My 9 yo daughter and I are currently reading The Quicksand Pony by Alison Lester, and as we home-school, I would like to be able to use this book as part of our lessons. What sort of things should I consider when making lessons based on a book?


Dear Samara,

An interesting question; it takes me back to my days in the classroom. I think you’re on the right track straight away – you’ve chosen a book that obviously interests your daughter and you’re both reading it for enjoyment! So different to kids doing book studies like a chore.

My suggestions to make the experience even better...

1. I’m a firm believer that kids can’t write about something with ease until they’ve thought and talked about it first – it’s like a scaffolding effect.

2. So, talk about the story and the characters – i.e. ask your daughter what she thinks. It’s a story of great emotional appeal so I bet she’s involved already with the characters.

Discussion may even lead to her working out what the theme/s of the story could be... e.g. courage, love, friendship, growing up, etc.

3. Most book reports/studies at school require a summary (and analysis) of Character/Setting/Plot/Theme so you could work on these as you go through the story, discussing it first (of course). Or you might like to do it when she’s finished reading.

At 9 years old, she may need help with the writing format etc. Examples of formatting would be on the internet. Another form of scaffolding.

4. Another part of book study is the personal side – how did it affect your daughter? How did she respond to the story? Would she recommend it to other readers and why. Would she read more books by this author? And so on.

5. She may find it interesting to find out more about the author/illustrator etc. Sometimes, teachers get kids to do book studies and they forget the creative source.

6. Then she needs to pull it all together with a conclusion. Here’s a good website link explaining a bit more about book studies. www.infoplease.com/homework/wsbookreportelem.html There are more around the web.

7. The most important thing of all ... ENJOY IT!

Best wishes

Sheryl Gwyther

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