The second quarter of the school year is by far, my favorite. I love autumn and everything we teach during this time. In this post, I’ll share digital reading activities for one of my very favorite books that will keep your students engaged as they increase their comprehension skills and become more confident readers.
Digital Reading Activities
One of my very favorite books to teach with is Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon. I’ve written a lot about teaching with Stellaluna because it is a teacher’s dream for diving deep into a character, and teaching a multitude of reading standards. I teach with Stellaluna every year, and I didn’t want this year of distance learning to be any different. to make it easy, I made digital reading activities to use that are interactive and would excite my students about this gem of a book! Read about how I teach in the classroom with Stellaluna in a typical year here.
In this post I’ll show you fun and engaging ways to:
- Use interactive anchor charts virtually
- Focus on an author’s word choice RL.4
- Compare different characters’ points of view RL.6
- Determine how a character changes during a story RL.3
- Identify ways a character responds to major challenges RL.3
- Teach students to generate, ask, and answer questions RL.1
- Sequence story events RI.1
- Reinforce story vocabulary L.4, L.5
- Determine fact & opinion W.1
- Replace nouns with pronouns 2L.2
- Introduce the two sounds of C RF.3.E
These digital reading activities are part of my Stellaluna reading unit. This unit has a ten lesson teaching presentation with reading, grammar, phonics and writing lessons. Interactive with moveable parts, all of the student activities are on Google Slides. This adorable unit makes it easy to teach fun and engaging reading lessons virtually.
Start With A Read Aloud
Begin by reading Stellaluna to your students. You can do this over Zoom with the actual book, or use the read aloud video of Stellaluna on Storyline Online. Storyline Online is a program run by the Screen Actors Guild. It has a wide variety of books read aloud by actors, that are perfect for teaching virtually. When you go to the website, you can choose to watch the video on either YouTube or through School YouTube.
The author of Stellaluna uses very visual vocabulary that gives readers a specific mental picture. Words like croon, clambered, and clumsy are fun words the author uses that are easy to have students act out- even over Zoom.
This vocabulary mini-lesson focuses students on an author’s word choice. Stellaluna is an ideal mentor text to use when teaching students about word choice in their own writing too.
Once students understand the vocabulary and are familiar with word meanings, have them match words to their definitions.
To practice using the words in context, students read a passage and move vocabulary words to complete the sentences.
See more fun ideas and get tips for teaching Stellaluna story vocabulary here.
Asking & Answering Questions
After the read aloud, one of the lessons I teach addresses RL.1 about forming and asking questions. Younger readers may sometimes need guidance on how to verbalize questions they have while reading.
Using anchor charts virtually can work the same as it does in your classroom. Use sticky notes to record your students’ responses and add them to the chart, or laminate the chart before you use it. Use a Mr. Sketch marker to write directly on it. (Mr. Sketch markers are water-based and wipe off easily with a damp paper towel.)
Building Listening Skills
When teaching reading virtually, it can be difficult to know if your students are actually understanding what they read. In a virtual reading lesson, students are most often listening to a read aloud. I like these comprehension slides for assessing listening skills because students can re-watch and listen to the read aloud if needed before answering the comprehension questions.
Another reason I like these activities is that they make it easy to take a grade. This multiple choice quiz is another way to assess listening and reading skills.
Determining How A Character Changes
Identifying how Stellaluna responds, changes, and adapts to the life-changing events she faces in this story are a key element of the plot. This chart is the one I use to address RL.3. It gives a way to organize Stellaluna’s challenging journey and how she changes from the beginning to the end of the story.
Start with either a digital version like the ones below, and share your screen, or make this anchor chart and ask students to use adjectives to describe Stellaluna. Discuss and record and how she changes at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
A quick and easy way to do the same thing is to use a digital version.
Comparing Points of View
As baby birds and a bat, the characters in Stellaluna all have very distinct and differing points of view. They each feel very strongly about flying at night, eating bugs, and sleeping upside down.
One of the reasons this book is so ideal for teaching RL.6 and RL.7 is the fact that characters’ opinions and points of view ARE so different. They lend themselves well to comparison.
I begin the lesson by teaching students what a point of view is and explaining that author’s often tell stories from their character’s point of view.
Sequencing Story Events
Sequencing events is a key reading skill in both first and second grade. This sequencing mini lesson reviews for students the language to use when retelling a story.
When learning to retell a story, this sequencing activity is a fun way to retell the story and practice putting the story events in order.
Teaching Grammar with Stellaluna
Since we teach replacing nouns with pronouns in this quarter, I added a lesson to the teaching presentation and a student practice activity for working with pronouns.
I save Stellaluna until the Fall season to pair it with informational books on bats, owls, and other nocturnal animals. Together they lend themselves well to teaching about fact & opinion. We also teach the two sounds of C during this time, and Stellaluna is loaded with lots words to pull from the text.
I hope you have found some ideas you can use as you plan for reading either virtually or in your classroom. All of the activities in this post, plus printable versions and more are part of this Stellaluna reading unit.
For more high engagement reading activities for your 1st and 2nd graders, visit these posts: