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Specific Novel & Picture Book Activities - "C"


The Calypso Alphabet

by John Agard

read aloud kindergarten, readability grade 1

John Agard takes readers on a wonderful Caribbean journey through the alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet is paired up with something you would find or hear on the Caribbean island including idioms and food. John Agard's rhythmic poetry and Jennifer Bent's bright illustrations make readers feel like they actually are visiting the Caribbean (or at least want to vacation there soon!).

"r for roti. Eat it like bread, flatter than a bake."

Make some West Indian Roti: (makes 5 or 6)

What you need:

What to do:

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Continue to mix while adding water, until you get a stiff dough. Put dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.
Form dough into 5 or 6 balls and flatten each one with a rolling pin. Spread oil or melted butter on top of each one and then fold each one back up into a ball by bringing the sides into the center. Place the balls back into the oiled bowl and let rest for another 10-15 minutes.

Roll each ball back into a very thin circle and brush both sides with more oil or melted butter. Cook each one on a hot griddle for about 6-7 minutes, flipping it frequently. When removing the roti from the griddle, clap it between your hands two or three times or hit it with a wooden mallet several times. Wrap the cooked roti in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.


Canadian Postal Workers

by Paulette Bourgeois

read aloud kindergarten, readability grade 3

Find out about the Canadian postal system through this book. Gordon sends his grandmother a birthday card and its journey is traced from the mail drop box all the way to his grandmother's hands. Paulette Bourgeois has done an excellent job in presenting the ins and outs of mail delivery. There are so many details provided that I even learned some new things, such as the different clothes postal carriers wear in different seasons, how postal codes work, and the process of mail sorting. This is an excellent book to use to introduce the Canadian postal system to the young and old!

Put together a class stamp collection:


The Cay

by Theodore Taylor

readability grade 7 and up, read aloud grade 3 and up

Philip and a stranger named Timothy have been cast up on an island in the middle of nowhere. Philip has lost his sight and has to let himself depend on Timothy or he will die. Through this journey of survival , Philip learns to "see" people for who they are and not for what they look like. An excellent story that deals with survival, courage, racial/cultural differences, and friendship and has its listeners and readers in suspense.

Make a model of the island that Philip and Timothy are on.

Write down a list of all the descriptions that Theodore Taylor gives.
Keep these descriptions in mind when making the island.
Use real sand and make other items out of construction paper, pipe cleaners, string, fabric, etc...


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Roald Dahl, Illus. Joseph Schindelman

This classic is about poor boy's adventure through , every child's dream, a chocolate factory. This book is filled with suspense and adventure. The characters are so vivid...it's wonderful. If you decide to read it aloud, read one chapter at a time because almost all of the chapters end on a "cliff hanger" note. I think primary children especially would love this book.


Here's a recipe that you can use to make about 5 dozen chocolate balls with your class:

What you need:

What to do:

  1. Melt chocolate chips; remove from heat.
  2. Stir in sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Chill 3 hours or until firm.
  4. Shape into 1 - inch (2.5cm) balls; place on wax paper-lined trays. Chill until firm. Roll in nuts, cocoa, or dip into melted chocolate chips of a different colour.
  5. Chill and enjoy.


Charlotte's Web

by E.B. White

read aloud kindergarten, readability grade 4

This classic has captured the hearts of many readers of all ages because it is humorous, lively, suspenseful, and tender. Who knew that saving a pig's life would be so tremendous an ordeal that would take the energies of Wilbur's many friends: Fern, Templeton the rat, a goose, a gander, and most of all Charlotte the spider? The themes dealt with are universal, and enlightening to anyone.

Make Charlotte

What you need:

What to do:


Chicken Soup With Rice

by Maurice Sendak

This is a collection of cute poems illustrated and written by Maurice Sendak. Each poem begins with a name of the month and something that you can do to, of course, chicken soup with rice. This is an excellent book for beginning readers because of the poems' repetitions and simple words, or for anyone else who would like to be reminded about their carefree childhood.

  1. Have each poem written out on large piece of tagboard and laminated.
  2. Whenever a new month begins, display the appropriate poem and read it to the class from the book while showing them the corresponding picture. (With it displayed, students can recite it all together from time to time).

Make sure you keep lots of copies of the book handy, though, since many children will like to read the whole collection and look at all the pictures.


Come Morning

by Leslie Davis Guccione

read aloud grade 3 and up, readability grade 4 and up

This story takes place during the time when slaves in the United States depended on the Underground Railroad as a means for freedom. Twelve year-old Freedom is caught in the middle of a dangerous situation as slave hunters take his father prisoner. At this time his father is in the middle of helping a young family of five escape from their owners. Freedom, is suddenly forced to gather all his courage to continue his father's life saving work. This is a powerful story that takes readers on a suspenseful journey through a time that will never be forgotten in American history.

Do some research on slavery and the Underground Railway. Put yourself in an escaped slaves shoes. Write a diary (or a few diary entries) from this point of view. Write about escaping from slave owners to arriving in Canada on through the Underground Railway.

Here's an excellent research source on the internet: