It’s no secret that a read aloud can be a powerful launching pad to further learning opportunities. When students hear a story, the wheels in their heads start turning and they are primed for learning (I swear I didn’t intend to make that a rhyming sentence, it just sort of happened)! I guess it provides a nice segue though, because speaking of rhyme, today I am sharing an extension activity to go along with the (rhyming) picture book, Our Class is a Family.
This resource is a book companion that will foster reading and writing skills, and promote class community at the same time. Just like many families have albums at home to treasure their special memories, your class can work together to create their very own Class Family Album at school. A great activity for back to school season or any time in the year.
Class Family Discussion
After reading aloud the book, have a meaningful discussion with students about what it means to be a class family. You might talk about how you all have different qualities that make you unique, but are coming together as a group that will be accepting of one another and treat each other with kindness.
Class Family Album
As a whole group, you can fill out this Class Information sheet to be included as the first page in the album. I don’t know about you, but many of my little ones always have trouble remembering the difference between their city, state, and country. Never hurts to have another way to help them get that information to stick.
Then provide each “family member” of your class with this page below. They can draw a picture of themselves, or you can take a real photograph of each student. If distance learning, another option is for students to insert their own picture (using the digital version of this resource). They also fill in the get-to-know-you writing prompts, including what family means to them.
Collect all of the completed student pages and put them together into a book. You can put this book on display in your classroom library as a choice for students to read during literacy centers or independent reading. Not only will they be getting reading practice, but they can also get to know more about their classmates at the same time!
Make it a Writing Center
If you’d like, you could keep adding fresh material to the album throughout the school year. Print out any photographs you take from special events, holidays, etc. Paste these photos onto copies of this page shown below.
These pages could be put in a basket for a writing center. Students select a page and write a caption for the photo. You can then add these pages to the Class Family album. The kids will love looking at the pictures, and you’re still sneaking in that reading and writing practice. It’s a way highlight the importance of penmanship too…I would tell the kids that they need to use their neatest printing for their writing to be “published,” because an audience (their classmates) will be reading it.
An additional writing center option is to provide pages without actual photos. These pages have a blank space for students to illustrate their own picture and write a caption.
This not only gives students the opportunity to show creativity through their illustrations, but the bonus for you as the teacher is that you don’t have to constantly be printing out pictures. We’re obviously busy and don’t always have the time, and so this is an easy way to keep this as an ongoing writing center.
Seasonal Album Pages
Some of the types of pages you can keep adding to the album all year long are ones for special times of year. Students can write about all of the exciting events happening in their class family during fall, winter, and spring.
These pages are an easy way of keeping your writing centers timely and fun!
School Subject Album Pages
You can also have students write about what they are currently doing or learning about in different academic subjects. Take pictures of the kids doing activities and lessons in reading, math, science, etc. and use them to include in the album. Again, if you’re short on time to print photos, the kids love to draw their own illustrations.
What’s particularly great about these pages is that they also help reinforce what you’re learning about in class. The kids can take pride in sharing what their class has been doing in a variety of different subjects. For the “We’re a Class Family of Athletes” page, for example, they can write about any fun games they’ve been playing at recess or P.E. You might choose to take real photos of their artwork to display on the “Artists” page. There are tons of possibilities for your class to really make the album their own.
Class Family Promise
One more page you might choose to include in the album is this “Class Promise” page.
If you decide to have your students make some sort of class mission statement, it could be written or typed on the page shown above. Each year, I have students collaborate in creating one. We determine what our values are and what promises we should make as a class family. Here is the one my kids worked together to make this past school year:
This isn’t something I’ve ever had classes create on the very first day of school. I would wait until a few weeks in- after we’ve had a chance to go over expectations and routines, and do several social emotional and growth mindset lessons. Once it had been been created and displayed, we would start each day by reciting our class mission statement together during Morning Meeting. I had them come up with their own hand motions to go with it too. If you’d like to see a video of this in action, you can view it here on my Instagram page.
Distance Learning Option
If you are teaching virtually, digital versions of all of the album pages shown above are available. Kids can make the pages while they are learning remotely (by inserting photos and typing their writing right into text boxes), and then you can physically put the album together if you return to the classroom. I’ve also included different options for writing lines and a cover in both color and black and white.
Our Class is a Family book & resources
The entire Class Family Album resource can be found HERE in my shop, and Teachers Pay Teachers store. And if you haven’t yet had a chance to pick up a copy of the book to go with it, you can get the best deal on paperbacks and hardcovers by ordering directly through my website. Get extra savings on bulk orders, and shipping is free! Click here to order on my site. The book is available on Amazon too.
There are also Spanish and French versions available for my dual language teacher friends. Please note- these have not yet been updated to include the seasonal and school subject pages.
And in case you might also be interested in giving your students a special little something after reading Our Class is a Family, these bookmarks make for great back to school or end of the year gifts!
And if you haven’t checked out my new book yet, A Letter From Your Teacher: On the First Day of School, it’s a read aloud that goes hand in hand with Our Class is a Family. You might like the book companion for that one too.
I hope your class enjoys the resource I’ve shared today! A collective album will not only be meaningful for students to create together, but also a wonderful way for them to look back on all of their special memories. Every class family has a story to tell, and this is a way for your class to share yours.