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Elementary School Grades 3-5

The best reading programs for elementary schools are the ones that appeal to multiple learning styles. Introduce students to digital storytelling and 21st century skills through project-based learning with our k-5 online curriculum. Storyboard That has created resources and classroom activities to help busy Elementary school teachers add something fun and versatile to the their wheelhouse of teaching ideas. Our former classroom teachers have created teacher guides for literature from a variety of genre types from historical fiction to non-fiction to fantasy, making it easy for teachers to find additional resources for their elementary reading programs. We also have plays, poems, and even well known speeches.

The options for literature lesson plans for elementary school are endless. Students will enjoy demonstrating what they've learned in any type of novel study, and the swaths of possibilities for different activities gives them independence to tailor their own learning. Browse our vast collection of Common Core aligned K-5 teacher resources below, and unlock creativity today!

Don’t see the elementary education books that you are teaching, but want to use our activities?
Check out our general novel study guide!



Fables, Fairy Tales, & Fantasy



The Importance of Literature for Elementary School Students

We know how important k-5 reading programs are to a child’s k-5 education and beyond. Literacy programs for elementary students consist not only of reading novels, learning new vocabulary, and retelling a story, they include so much more. Elementary school reading programs and elementary school programs in general often combine subjects in one way or another, to keep students engaged and challenged.

Reading books in the classroom and independently is not only beneficial to teach children how to read, but it also strengthens their communication skills, language and vocabulary, cooperation skills, and cognitive reasoning skills. Reading is prevalent in all elementary school subjects, and fostering a love for and an understanding of reading will help students to thrive in all areas. Storyboard That’s novel study guides can even be used in writing programs for elementary students, as all of our activities naturally incorporate writing in our k-5th grade school subjects.

The Importance of Differentiation

We create all of our teacher guides and activities with differentiation in mind. Every student learns differently, so we must provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Teachers today have to take into account so many different factors that go into preparing a lesson, because our student population is rapidly changing. Kids are no longer “tracked” in the traditional sense; instead, most of our classes have students with all kinds of learning abilities, including those who may need a little extra help accessing the curriculum.

Differentiated instruction has become a way for teachers not only to deliver the key concepts to all students, but also a way to scaffold their lessons so students of all abilities can demonstrate their understanding in the ways that best suit them.

What Kinds of Activities are Typically Included in the Guides?

While each elementary level teacher guide is made specifically for a particular novel or genre, there are many activities that we generally include, as they are core focuses for readers and writers in the English Language Arts classroom. Here are the teaching activities that will most likely see in a typical unit plan:

  • Creating a plot diagram not only helps students learn the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop a greater understanding of literary structures. Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. In this activity, students will create a visual plot diagram of major events in sequence as they occur in the story. Students should identify major turning points in the novel such as the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. For young readers and children's books, it may be helpful to complete a "Beginning, Middle, End" summary instead. We give teachers the background information that they need for all novels, making life a little easier and freeing up some time for you.

  • A helpful tool to use while reading is the character map, although many lesson plans say it can also be used after completing a book; it is up to you! In this activity, students will create a character map of the characters in the story, paying close attention to the physical attributes and the traits of both major and minor characters. They can also provide detailed information regarding the challenges the character faces, the challenges the character imposes, and the importance of the character to the plot of the story. To scaffold this activity, teachers can change the questions, add more questions (the character map layout can be found under "Scenes" -> "Patterns"), provide the names of characters they want students to track, or let students start from scratch! This activity can be used for a book group, in pairs, or even after a class read aloud.

  • Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary terms aids in overall comprehension and retention. In addition, teachers may utilize this activity as students read so they can make visual vocabulary spider maps of new and unfamiliar terms as they encounter them. Readers will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key vocabulary found in the book. Each cell will contain a vocabulary term, its definition or description, and an appropriate illustration.

  • Novels often have a variety of themes, symbols, and motifs that students can identify and analyze. Theme in literature refers to the main idea or underlying meaning the author is exploring throughout a novel, short story, or other literary work. Symbolism in a story is when an object or situation is more than it appears on the surface. The author is using it to represent something deeper and more meaningful. For example, an object that is the color red might have a deeper meaning of passion, or love, or devotion attached to it. Motifs are a technique employed by the author whereby they repeat a certain element more than once throughout the course of the story. This element has symbolic significance and is meant to draw the reader's attention and illuminate a deeper meaning to the story as it is repeated. After identifying one or more themes, symbols, or motifs, students will create a spider map where they label, describe, and illustrate what they found!

  • Many novels and stories have examples of figurative language that enhance the reader's understanding and help them visualize the events of the story, the characters, their motivations and their emotions. Figurative language is a technique employed by the author to describe something by comparing it to something else. The words or phrases are not literal but use metaphors, similes, hyperboles, personification, and other examples to describe the object, feeling, or event they are talking about. In this activity, students will identify different instances of figurative language and illustrate the examples from the text. To scaffold or tailor this assignment, teachers may provide students with a list of figurative language elements in the text, or they may ask students to identify them on their own.

  • Having students choose a favorite quote or dialogue from the book allows them to express which parts of the story resonated with them on a personal level. In this way, students are making a text-to-self connection that demonstrates their understanding of the characters and their development or the themes of the novel. Students can share their storyboards afterwards and have a short discussion about what the quote or dialogue means to them and why they chose it.

  • The setting of a story is the location and time frame, or the where and when of the story. Settings often play a crucial role in the story as they influence the characters, their motivations, and their actions. The setting can also include the environment, like the weather or the social and political factors within the time period both locally and globally. Students can create a setting chart to identify the time and place of the story, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the characters and their situation. If a story has multiple settings or time periods, they can also explain how those changes affect the characters and plot.

  • Movie posters are a fun way for students to boil down the most important aspects of a novel. After reading the novel, students will create a movie poster that showcases the setting, characters and a chosen scene or overarching themes of the story. Students can include the title and author of the book, a catchy tagline, and a "critic's review" informing the audience why they should go to see the movie and briefly describing the compelling story. For additional templates to add to this assignment, check out our movie poster templates! To scaffold or tailor this activity, teachers can choose to provide students with as little or as much information and text as they want! They may choose to add certain characters, items, and scenes to the template and require students to use only those, or let them build their poster from scratch.

  • Literary Conflict is often taught during ELA units. Building on prior knowledge to achieve mastery level with our students is important. An excellent way to focus on the various types of literary conflict is through storyboarding. In this activity, students will choose a type of literary conflict and illustrate examples from the text.

We are certain that you will find all kinds of creative activities within our teacher guides! There’s something for everyone!

How to Use Our Teacher Guides

When you click on a book title, you will be taken to the main teacher guide page. On that page you will find the following:

  1. A brief introduction paragraph. This gives you a quick synopsis of what you can expect to find in the guide.

  2. Several student activities for the book, all of which can be copied into your teacher dashboard with just a couple clicks! Once they are saved in your dashboard, you can edit, add, and tailor any part of the activity however you would like!

  3. Some ideas for essential questions that you can choose to use to guide your lessons.

  4. A summary of the book for teacher reference will be included in every novel teacher guide. Our summaries always contain spoilers, so we highly advise teachers not to share this information with students.

Once you have decided on an activity to use, click on the image and you will be taken to the activity page. All of our activities include the following:

  1. An activity overview that explains the activity and what the students will be expected to do. This is for reference only; you can use our activities however you’d like!

  2. A blank template is included for every activity. All of our templates can be edited to fit the needs of your students. You can even add multiple templates to an assignment, making differentiation a breeze!

  3. Our premade activities also come with a colorful, eye-catching example that was made by one of our former teachers who read the novel and created the teacher guide. We know how long it takes to make high quality examples to show your students. Now you don’t have to.

  4. We also include premade objectives and instructions for each activity. Of course, we know that teachers use various methods to explain information, so our objectives and instructions can be easily edited or deleted.

  5. All of our activities also include a lesson plan reference guide. This handy information includes suggested grade level, suggested type of assignment, difficulty level, and suggested Common Core standards. We often also include the activity type if it’s applicable. This is a great addition to your k-5 reading teaching resources.

  6. Last but not least, most of our activities come with a premade rubric. Rubrics come in all types; some are basic, and some are quite in depth. Our rubrics are designed to be a starting off point, or to be used as is, depending on your preference and needs. You can edit or copy our rubrics, or even create your own using Quick Rubric!

How to Copy an Activity

Copying an activity to your teacher dashboard is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3. Once you have chosen an activity to copy, you simply click on the orange “Copy Activity” button anywhere on the page. This will save a copy of the activity into your account. From there, you can make any changes you wish to make, assign it to classes, add more templates or edit the existing templates, allow students to collaborate, share the assignment link with students, and so much more. We’ve done the work so you don’t have to. We know you will love it.

Elementary Teaching & Project Ideas

More Resources on Our Site!

Looking for resources and suggested activities in other areas of the education world? You will surely find the resource you are looking for by using the search bar, or browsing the list below!

  • All Lesson Plans and Activities: Our vast library of lesson plans is loaded with all kinds of engaging activities, worksheets and poster templates, and other teaching tools.
  • Literature Library: Check out our growing library of novels, nonfiction books, plays, poems, and even speeches. There is truly something for everyone.
  • World Languages: Do you teach Spanish or French? Another language? Storyboard That's world languages activities are just what you are looking for.
  • Math Mini Lessons: Teach fractions, geometry, and more with our creative math lessons!
  • Social Studies and History: Whether you are teaching civics, geography, or history, we have what you need in our awesome social studies library of teacher guides and activities.
  • Science: Check our our premade lessons on motion, erosion and weathering, atoms, chemical reactions, energy, and so much more in our science section!
  • Social Emotional Learning: Useful at any age, our SEL lessons and social emotional activities will help you discuss important social topics with your students.
  • English as a New Language: Students who are immersed in a new language rely on visual tools to help them learn and understand. Our ENL activities are the perfect way to get your students to a confident place!
  • Worksheets: Looking for a quick worksheet to print or use digitally? Our worksheet templates will give you what you need!
  • Posters: There are so many things you and your students can do with our vast collection of poster templates. Check them out today!

Frequently Asked Questions about K-5 Literature

What are some popular books for kindergarteners to 2nd graders?

1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
3. Stuart Little by E.B. White

What are some popular books for 3rd to 5th graders?

1. The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
3. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

What are the literature genres for grades k-5?

Younger grades are still learning to read, so they are being exposed to all different genres of literature. Storyboard That has lessons for fiction, historical fiction, fables, fairy tales, and fantasy, poetry, and non-fiction.

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