Do you need reading activities that not only provide think-alouds and guided reading, but also help build a great classroom community at the beginning of the year (or any time of the year)? Junkyard Wonders is a great book to study at the beginning of the year, because it has a deep perspective of healthy self-esteem as well as what a supportive classroom community should look like. This product is dedicated to conducting a close reading book study of Junkyard Wonders.
If you print the last 3 pages of the pictures you will have a FREEBIE from this product that serves as a great anticipatory set for the book study, but it also can stand alone and serve as a wonderful classroom community building activity designed to help students develop a healthy self esteem. Download the preview for a comprehensive view of this product, showing all of the slides included.
Included are the following activities:
"One Person's Junk is a Another Person's Treasure"
This activity should be used as an anticipatory set to introduce the book The Junkyard Wonders. It is also intended to get students to think about the title of the book, The Junkyard Wonders, which is a required task in closely reading a text. Teachers can bring
their own “junk” for students to analyze, or provide the same list as is included here in this product. There are no right or wrong answers. The filled in page is just a suggestion of how the
activity might go. This activity is to get the students engaged in the story that will be read. I have provided two different options. One has students identify an object as junk or treasure, and explain their opinion. The other option has them analyze the object as BOTH junk and treasure. I strongly encourage students to include themselves in the list, as the book shows how each and every one of Mrs. Peterson’s students, though seen as throwaways by many, are geniuses and junkyard wonders.
This is a great book to read at the beginning of the year, to let your students know that you think each and every one of them has potential just waiting to be discovered or enhanced.
"Junkyard Wonders: Sequence of Events"
Every good reader thinks about the structure of a text before reading it. Have students analyze the genre of The Junkyard Wonders by doing a preview of the book. Have them
look for headings (there are none), and observe how the illustrations help move the story along. Have them stop at the very first page of the story, and discuss how this is set apart
from the rest of the story as an introduction. Discuss how the introduction enhances the story. Because of the text structure of The Junkyard Wonders, the book should be discussed as a
fictional text. Make sure students know that fictional text usually does not have headings or diagrams, but that in picture books there are accompanying illustrations that move the story along. Discuss with the class (they could do this in a think-pair-share setting) how the pictures move the story through a sequence of events. You can use the blank sequence of events activity as a pre-reading activity, getting students to think about the text and make predictions. There are no right or wrong answers at this point, as they are simply making predictions. After the book has been read, you could have them go back and assign headings to different parts of the book OR they can put the suggested headings in the appropriate order.
"Junkyard Wonders: Illustration Supports"
Every good reader thinks about the illustrations in a text before reading it. Have students make predictions about the text, based on the illustrations. You can use the blank Illustrations Supports page. As they move on to reading the book, they should observe how the illustrations help move the story along. They can use the second blank illustrations support page to complete this activity. Have them come up with their own titles for each page, and have them write how the illustrations reinforce the text. I have included suggested answers only as a guideline. The main idea of this activity is to get students participating in thinking about how the illustrations support the story, and as such it should not be graded according to the answers I have provided.
"I had a reason for staying. A good reason"
Every good reader thinks about the introduction in a text, and how it helps set the tone and purpose of reading the text that awaits. In pre-reading The Junkyard Wonders, have students predict what they think the reason for her staying might be, again reinforcing the importance of the illustrations, as well as their background connections. They should know that at the beginning of reading a story it is not important to have a right or wrong answer, but that they are focusing on the reading through connections with the illustrations and their own experiences. Once they have read The Junkyard Wonders they can then go back and adjust her reason for staying. I would strongly encourage students to stretch their minds in this section, by analyzing and evaluating why it was good she stayed with her dad even after she realized that she was, again, put in a “special” class. The answer key is not to be rigidly followed. It is just a suggestion meant to steer the discussion in the right direction if needed.
"Fresh Start or Same Old Story?"
This activity is one of several activities included in this product in order to get the readers to actively interact with the text. With this particular activity, students try to connect with Trisha by predicting and analyzing whether or not she truly has a fresh start, or her problems follow her. It’s a great theme in the story that shows the students that you can’t just run away from your problems. That is an important life lesson that is taught through this story while you are also teaching them how to read more effectively and passionately. In this activity, students are challenged with finding evidence from the text to back their opinion of whether Trisha has a fresh start or is still challenged with dealing with the same problems she had at her last school. It then has them connect this analysis with their own experiences of wanting a problem to go away.
"Every First Sentence"
Every good reader skims through a text before reading. This should give them somewhat of an idea of the purpose of their reading. It also helps them make some predictions about the text. Have students take the “Every First Sentence” activity and make predictions about the text. Then have them go back and analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of every first sentence. The answer keys included in this section of this product are only suggestions. They can be used to model think-alouds. This assignment should be open-ended, and there really is no right or wrong answer. The idea is to get the students interacting with the text.
Every good reader needs to make sure they understand the vocabulary in the text they are reading. They also appreciate the word choices made by authors who write well, and learn to use similar word choice in their own writing. This product has several vocabulary activities. The first activity has students color in the more vivid of different word pairs. One word in each pair is less vivid than the other, and they are tasked with identifying the best word choice among the pair. The second activity has students list the words they are not familiar with, or have less experience with, and then it has them apply context clues to figure out meanings of these words. They follow up this activity with practicing the use of using a dictionary. This helps them practice using this reference, as well as getting them to compare their prediction for the words in question with the actual definitions. There are words already provided in the answer keys. You could supply this list for students to practice, or you could have them come up with their own words that they find in the reading. Having them come up with their own words helps them own their learning, making them interact more personally with the text. The answer key is simply provided as a guideline and example of how this activity was meant to be fulfilled. The “Did You Know?”activity requires students to explore the importance of background knowledge in good comprehension. This activity about the word “katydid” shows students how a little background knowledge of the word can help students understand a word and also the reason the author used it in a text. This activity also helps develop student’s inference skills.
“Figuratively Speaking” isn’t just about vocabulary, but more about students understanding that not all text is meant to be taken literally. It has them explore the different elements of figurative speech: simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, and idioms. Through their exploration, they identify figurative speech taken directly out of the text as one of these elements of figurative speech.
Good readers analyze characters. It is important to understand characters because they are mentioned in the text to carry along the theme or lesson of the story. The main character usually represents the main theme of the story. In this case Trisha represents the main problem of the story that students can take to heart in their own lives: that you can’t run away from your problems. Her personal problem is that she doesn’t want to be considered “special”. She originally things that going to a different school will change her circumstances, but she still finds herself in a “special” class, separated from the “normal” students. Throughout the story, you can see how she learns that it is okay to be “special,” and that she should even celebrate her differences and the differences of her friends in the class. The main character is not the only character important to analyze. Other characters in the story help enforce messages of the text as well. Mrs. Peterson is a facilitator. We are not sure whether she came up with the name “Junkyard Wonders,” and some might even be mad that she would call them “junk”. Through personal experiences, as well as the analysis of Mrs. Peterson as a supportive teacher, it is highly unlikely that she ever called them “junk” but it very possible that she came up with the name “Junkyard Wonders” because she wanted them to celebrate their differences. Through that title, she teaches them about their potential. This is reinforced with the projects she assigns to them after they take their field trip to the junkyard. Jody seems to represent the climax of the story. At the beginning of the story he is the bodyguard. Whenever he is around the bullies disperse. The rest of the Junkyard Wonders depend on him to defend them. After the projects are completed, he is the one who mentions that the airplane should be named after them. Only a week later he passes away. It is almost as if the story no longer needs him to be there, other than in spirit. In spirit, he is still very much a part of the story - - even more so. The characters learn that they can no longer rely on him as a body guard, but what he left behind in spirit helps the other students stand up to bullies. They become proud of themselves in a way that might not have happened if Jody remained alive. Even the airplane is a character in this story. It is not mentioned until the students go on the field trip, but it represents the spirit of the class. It starts out as “junk,” left behind in the junkyard, neglected. Its potential is overlooked until the Vanilla tribe, and particularly Gibbie, discovers it. One could even say it was abused, because if someone was walking through the junkyard, and the airplane was not hanging from the roof strut, it could be trampled upon and even further destroyed. The Vanilla tribe is like the teacher, when they help restore the airplane to its greatness. Like the students, Mrs. Peterson helps the students see their potential and greatness. The end of the story shows the airplane flying on its own, because of all the work that the students put into it. The teachers, in a sense, are flying on their own because of the attention and love Mrs. Peterson bestows upon them. The first character template is meant to serve as a cover for a character analysis. Students write the character’s name in the banner, and they can decorate the character how they think he or she would look. I advise making 2 copies of each of these for your students. The second copy is used for the character analysis. Another option is to make one copy of the first character template, and then make a copy of the second character template to guide the character analysis. Uses these templates at your discretion, judging how much assistance you think individuals or groups may need in completing the task of character analysis. If you are trying to save paper and ink, you can have the second character analysis template laminated. This provides students with the option of practicing their analysis before putting it on something more permanent, because they can wipe off their practice work while still using the template to guide their character analysis. The answer key is just a suggestion. This is an open ended activity, and the grading will be subjective. You could use the answer key for a think aloud, modeling how the students are to use this activity. I am including a separate character template for the airplane, since it is not a human. This can help students realize that sometimes the characters aren’t actually people or animals. Objects can play a role in moving a story forward as well, and they can actually be central or pivotal to the themes and lessons in a story. It’s important for the students to analyze the students as a group as well. They are definitely set apart as “different” than the other students at the school. The graphic organizer gives students the task of focusing on why each of the Vanilla tribe is different (as a smaller group of the Junkyard Wonders). Another blank graphic organizer invites students to make connections to the Vanilla tribe, by identifying how their group or friends are different, and why they are celebrated as individuals.
This section is dedicated to certain things that occur within the story that students should pay attention to. Because Mrs. Peterson sets the tone for her class from day one, I think it’s important for the students to spend some time analyzing why she provides the definition of genius on the first day. It is not only crucial to her students, but it is crucial to a main theme or lesson in the story: believing in oneself. This is a perfect opportunity to get your own students to reflect on their strengths and celebrate how they are, themselves, geniuses. Students evaluate Mrs. Peterson’s presentation in the first activity, supporting her choice or explaining what they would do differently and why. Students also are invited to analyze the definition of genius. A copy of the definition of genius is provided for students to analyze. It is in large print in case you want students to use it as a whole class or in groups. The third activity challenges students to think about the scene of Trisha and Thom at recess. This part of the story is important, because it seems Trisha is aware that her problems of being in a “special” class have followed her to her new school. It also invites students to make personal connections to the text.
In “Trisha Becomes Part of the Vanilla Tribe,” students make connections to belonging to a group. It helps them see why being part of the Vanilla tribe helped Trisha feel accepted and take her mind off of others who didn’t accept her. Hopefully, students learn that it isn’t how many friends they have, but the quality of their friends that really matters. Hopefully, students learn that friends who believe in you and support you are the type of friends you want to spend time with. That accompanying graphic organizer has the students analyze how the Vanilla Tribe are good friends to each other. The one after that has them think about their own group of friends, and how they support each other. “Mrs. Peterson’s Junkyard Wonder Badges” has students think about the label Trisha’s class has. It has them evaluate what is good and bad about that label. As with other parts of the plot analysis activities, it has them analyze this part of the story and invites
In the “Junkyard Projects” activity, students continue to analyze this part of the plot in the story. They also see how the students working on the junkyard project parallels to how Mrs. Peterson is working on the students’ self esteem. It challenges students to shift their focus from the problems they will face in life, and focus on what they can learn and how they can become stronger through those problems. In “Wind Beneath the Wings” the students are analyzing the plot of putting a motor to the airplane, but at the same time the hope is for them to reflect on who inspires them to become better people and believe more in themselves. They analyze how Mrs. Peterson is a positive influence on the class. They also analyze how the peers in the classroom become supportive of one another, and how they are unified for a cause. We start to see Jody fading away, which is crucial to the plot. His death inspires the Junkyard Wonders to prove themselves to others, for his sake. In the process they learn they no longer need him to defend them, because they have learned to defend themselves. He, in a sense, is part of the “wind beneath” the other student’s “wings”. The graphic organizer that follows tasks the students with comparing the plane to the class. Jody mentions that the plane is the class, and therefore should be named after the class. It also happens that doing so shows the parallels between the plane and the class. They are both needing to be restored. One needs a motor. The other needs to believe in themselves in order to excel and become independent and strong.
“Jody’s Passing” continues to analyze the plot of the entire story, but it also helps students focus on other features of the story. It challenges them to make some inferences, make personal connections, and evaluate characterization in the book. There is a character who doesn’t really seem significant until this part of the story. It is then that she finds her voice. Perhaps she realized that life is short, so she must act now. The fact that she doesn’t speak until now carries on Jody’s wishes in a bold way, and puts focus on the class standing up for themselves when he is no longer there. “Making Plans” and “Taking Flight” continue to have students analyze the plot of the story and also prompts them to make personal connections. It challenges students to dig deeper by thinking about what is not mentioned in the story (what was on the banner that Ravanne unfurled down the walls of the school)? It prompts them to think about why certain things are repeated throughout the book, such as Gibbie still saying the plane is headed for the moon. It hopefully leads them to connect the plane to the class, in that they too can “go to the moon” with belief in themselves and support in one another. At the end of the plot analysis, students show how the Vanilla Tribe “soars into the future”. They are then invited to predict how they and their friends might soar into the future. It do not include the main idea activity until the end, as I feel students need to be fully immerse in analyzing other parts of the story before they can get a fuller and more deep understanding of the main idea and underlying message of Junkyard Wonders. There are suggestions for the main idea, but they are still challenged to find text evidence to support the main idea. Teachers should use their own professional judgment in using the provided main ideas. Students should be challenged to think of these themselves, but if there is some need for differentiation, the suggestions are there.
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