One Book, Three Subjects

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to learn from everyday life. I remember going to the grocery store with my mom and calculating prices as we shopped to see how close I could get to the end total. My brothers and I caught caterpillars, frogs, and turtles while we played outside, then spent the next week studying them for “science.” Cooking dinner was home economics, writing a letter to Grandma was English, and a trip to the museum was history.

It just makes sense to kill two birds with one stone and a great way to do this is to use one book to teach multiple subjects.

You can repurpose books of any reading level, from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to “Pride and Prejudice.”

child reading

Writing Activities

Beyond the average book report, there are a number of book-based writing activities you can assign to get some creativity flowing.

1. Rewrite the ending.

Whether you liked the ending or not, it’s always fun to reimagine it. What if one person had done one thing different? How would it have affected the outcome?

2. Write from the perspective of a supporting character.

Supporting characters are vital to the completeness of a book, but they don’t always get the voice they deserve. Pick a scene or chapter and try rewriting it from the perspective of someone other than the main character.

3.  Rewrite the book as a TV commercial.

This is great for practicing marketing skills. Pretend you are trying to convince an audience to read this book. Ham it up!

4.  Write a letter to the author.

Whether you send the letter or not, formally writing out what you liked about or learned from the book sharpens grammar, writing, and thinking skills.

5.  Write character descriptions.

List each character; then, underneath each name, write a short paragraph describing their most prominent personality traits.

language arts

Speaking

1.  Introduce a character.

Pretend the character is in the room with you. They are about to speak at an even, and you are the one introducing them.

2.  Act out a play.

Enlist the help of others and perform a scene from the book. Write a script or improvise, but make it as dramatic as possible.

3.  Recite a passage from memory.

Pick your favorite part and perform a dramatic monologue.

4.  Retell the story from the viewpoint of an extra character.

To get the creative juices really flowing, pretend you were a background character; you didn’t make it into the book, but you saw everything unfold. You are now recounting an event to a friend.

5.  Pick one thing to change and then explain how it would affect the outcome of the story.

Similar to rewriting an ending, choose one thing from the book to change. Then, verbally explain why it would matter if that one thing was different.

art

Art

1. Draw a favorite character from memory.

If the book doesn’t have pictures, try drawing a character. Emphasize physical features, and try to include personality traits (such as frown lines on someone particularly grumpy).

2.  Paint a favorite scene.

Break out the paintbrush and paint a single scene.

3.  Learn some origami.

A quick trip to the Google search bar will teach you how to make anything out of paper. If you’re reading “Charlotte’s Web,” you could make an origami spider. Or, you could learn a flower for “The Secret Garden.”

4.  Create a “picture book.”

On pieces of paper, recreate the story without using words. Try to hit the highlights with pictures. Then, staple the pages together in order. See if a friend can guess the story.

5.  Draw a map of the storybook world.

From memory, try to draw each significant place the way you envision them connecting in the book.

homeschooling children

Why is it important to develop creativity?

Creative thinking paves the way for independent thinking. Some subjects are black and white. Growing up, I disliked math because it has a right answer and a wrong answer. On the flipside, I loved writing and art because they are subjective. They gave me an outlet for my creativity.

Taking a book someone else has written (or rather, someone else’s creative thinking) and integrating it into other subjects is an effective way of developing independent, well-rounded thinking.

School doesn’t have to be dreary, and it doesn’t have to be all textbooks. Make learning fun by incorporating one subject into another, and, most importantly, making it relevant to life.

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Kirsten Schmutzler

About the Author

Kirsten Schmutzler

Kirsten has given her life over to God, to use in whatever way He chooses. She currently takes classes at the local Junior College, where her focus is English Composition and is also starting her final year of Faith Bible Institute. Her future plans include transferring to a Bible College in Oklahoma and obtaining a degree in education.

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