5 Innovative Activities & Projects for Any Novel Unit

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As secondary ELA teachers, there are certain traditional activities that we tend to give our students during a novel study. These activities range from body maps to dialectical journals. After using the same activities over and over, I began to seek out new and innovative ways to target essential reading and writing skills that would interest students while also integrating modern technology.

Here are FIVE Innovative Activities for Any Novel Unit!

Each of these activities and projects can be found in the The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL.

Novel Task Cards

For this activity, students work in groups and move around the room to visit different task stations that challenge them to analyze the text through different lenses. Here’s what students will do:

  1. Have students get into groups and give each student the Task Station Record Sheet. Students record their responses and findings at each display on the record sheet. Alternatively, have students record their findings and responses in their notebooks or on their own paper.

  2. Give students 5-10 minutes at each “station.” Keep time for each rotation. Give students a one-minute warning for the next rotation and then announce when it’s time to rotate.

  3. After groups have visited all stations, students can share their findings with the whole class and turn in their record sheets for assessment. Consider also having students select one of the task stations to write about either formally or informally.

  4. Find this assignment with the Task Cards as part of The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL.

Novel Theme Park Project

For this project, students work in a group to design a theme park based upon the literary elements of a selected novel. The various aspects of the park from the layout to the rides to the characters should be inspired by the novel.

Students should consider the following questions:

  1. What are the major themes of the novel? How can than these themes be represented in a theme park?

  2. What are the major plot points of the novel? How can these be represented by the “lands” in the theme park?

  3. Who are the major characters of the novel? How can these characters inspire theme park characters and rides?

  4. What is the setting of the novel? How can this setting inspire the architecture of the park?

  5. How can the merchandise sold in the theme park relate to the novel?

For the Theme Park Novel Project, students will create:

  • Theme Park Map

  • Characters

  • Shows

  • Merchandise

After brainstorming the various aspects of their novel theme parks, students will present their theme parks to the class. Find the Theme Park Novel Project as part of The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL.

Book Headlines

The purpose of a headline is to simultaneously report key information while grabbing the attention of the reader. A good headline tells what the article is about and makes you want to read it. Therefore, the words within a headline must be carefully and purposefully chosen in order to serve two purposes: report and persuade.

For this activity, students write three headlines for a preselected book that reveal key elements such as plot, character, and setting. They should try to find unique angles into the story that would catch attention while still being relevant to the story. This is also a great lesson to pair with rhetorical devices. Students should try using rhetorical strategies such as alliteration, puns, and repetition to make each headline catch more attention! Students then explain how the headlines connect to the book and how they grab attention.

Find the Novel Headlines Activity as part of The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL.

Character Instagram

Instagram is a popular social media platform that allows users to create magazine-like layouts of images, leave comments, and use hashtags to target key concepts and ideas from posts. But— you probably already knew that!

For this assignment, students create a fictitious Instagram account for a book character of their choice. Students should consider the following questions:

  • What kind of content would this character post?

  • How would this character explain each post?

  • What kind of language would this character use?

  • Who would this character follow on Instagram?

  • Who would follow this character on Instagram?

  • What kind of comments would people leave on this character’s posts?

  • How would this character comment on other posts?

  • Who is friends with this character?

  • Who is related to this character?

  • What are key events and issues from the story that might appear on this character’s

    Instagram feed?

The character’s Instagram page should include the following elements:

  1. The character’s profile

  2. A profile pic of the character

  3. 2-3 Insta Story Highlight Covers (images, text, etc.)

  4. 3+ posts from the character

  5. Each post must include a relevant caption that relates to the story

  6. Each post must contain 2-3 relevant comments from followers

  7. An explanation of how the IG account connects to the book (typed & turned in separately)

Find the Character Instagram Activity as part of The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL.

Novel Podcast Project

For this assignment, students work with a group of peers to create a podcast episode on a novel of their choice. They must include:

  1. A clever name for the podcast including a catchy introduction.

  2. The students’ initial thoughts about the novel and how they changed (or didn’t over time).

  3. A discussion of key elements from the novel such as:

    • Characters • Plot

    • Theme

    • Conflict

    • Symbolism • Setting

    • Style

  4. A brief biography of the writer with relevant background information.

  5. A fun element such as a quiz game or challenge. Students should be creative!

  6. A discussion of how the novel connects to other pieces of literature, historical/ current events, and/or the group members’ lives.

  7. A recommendation of the book. Would you recommend this book to others? Students should create their own rating system for the novel.

  8. An interview with someone who is an “expert”on the book or relevant to the book in some way. (optional for bonus points)

This is a great project that integrates modern technology into an interactive format that will resonate with students. After students complete their podcasts, teachers can use them to target listening skills in or outside of class. Find the Novel Podcast Project as part of The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL.

What activities and projects do you like to do with your students during a novel unit to target essential skills? Leave us a comment! We’d love to hear from you!

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About the Author

Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and Bespoke ELA.  She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University.  She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas.  An avid tea drinker and anglophile, Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.