by Hannah Stark
Have you ever considered creating an educator’s guide or activity to go along with your book? There are so many audiences to consider; teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, parents, caregivers, and kids and there are so many possibilities when it comes to what you might make!
For the last fifteen years I’ve been teaching elementary school. I’ve received tons of educator guides to go with books and often search online for activities to supplement a lesson or text. While some publishing houses create educator guides or coloring pages, I’ve noticed some authors and illustrators also create their own. These are posted on professional websites, handed out at school events, distributed at book events, or emailed with newsletters. This post aims to help authors and illustrators come up with ideas to best supplement their book.
The Fun Stuff
Some of the easiest things you can create are printables that are purely for fun. These include mazes, unscramble the word puzzles, word searches, coloring pages, and simple games. I think of these as universal activities because everyone pretty much knows what to do when they see them. While they don’t serve that much educational purpose, they do work our brains in different ways. Here is a simple set of cards I made for a game of memory. Adults just need to print them and kids can help cut them out. Teachers like print and use activities. If there is too much prep work they might steer clear but a game like memory can become an easy classroom center after reading a book aloud.
Arts and Crafts
As an educator and a mom, my Pinterest feed is stock full of “craftivities.” Craftivities are art-based activities that tend to be SUPER cute. These hands on projects can do great things for book promotion, especially with eye-catching photos on Pinterest or Instagram. Educators like to put art projects up on bulletin boards and homeschoolers are always looking for hands on projects to break up the day.
Craftivities can be super simple like making a mask or a puppet of a character from your book. They might be a simple origami activity or what teachers call “foldables.” An example of this might be a fortune-teller. Consider projects that include reuse of materials to keep supply costs down. To create a craftivity you just need to supply directions and some photos of the process or product.
Creating supplements that can be used for deeper thinking about your book can feel daunting! Am I being developmentally appropriate? What grade level teaches this content? Is this how teachers would do it? My first piece of advice would be to talk to teachers that work with the age group your book is aimed towards. Get a sense of what kids can handle academically. Ask a teacher to help you develop an idea or ask for feedback about how to word things more clearly. Teachers are helpers and we love to share our knowledge.
It is also helpful to think about what subject(s) you’d like to create for. Maybe you can tie in some math or a science experiment? It is helpful to take a look at the Common Core Standards for you’re the grade level of your readers. While not all states follow the Common Core, they can give a sense of what is generally expected for kids at a certain age. For example, Kindergarteners are expected to be able to count by tens. This is a page I made using my main character Trucker that aligns with this standard.
There are also many ways to integrate literacy skills. You might create a list of discussion questions. Since my story is for ages 3-6 I created a list of questions to prompt discussion on my website. These include images of trucks and trains from a Pinterest board and it is intended to help develop a young child’s verbal skills.
In the classroom, the list of discussion questions below can monitor comprehension and develop key skills for young learners. This includes sequencing events, cause and effect, character and setting, problem and solution, and message. These are all foundational skills in the Kindergarten to Grade 4 classrooms.
One other idea is to write a paired text to go with your book. Paired texts are generally thought of as fiction and non-fiction texts that can be somehow paired because they connect around a topic. I could write an informational piece about trucks or trains or junctions to go with my book. This provides educators with another way to engage your book in the classroom. For a Kindergarten class doing a unit on transportation, these resources support curriculum, save educators some time and energy looking for another resource, and help develop students as narrative and informative readers.
I hope this post has helped my fellow authors and illustrators become inspired to create resources to supplement their books. If you’d like to see more of the printables I’ve created for TRUCKER AND TRAIN please visit my webpage https://www.hannahcarinastark.com/ .
We are a group of writers and illustrators who have debut books (actual debuts , debuts as author-illustrators, or debuts with medium/large publishers) forthcoming in 2019. Thank you for joining us on our exciting journey!