Here's a hands-on way for students to explore making text connections while reading. I use this activity with picture books because students enjoy them and can read several in a short time period. Students choose 3 pictures books to read. After reading each one, they practice citing (title, author, and copyright date), write a brief summary, and then write a text connection. They get to choose which type of connection to make with each book.
Lesson tips: Depending on the length of your class periods, this can take 1-2 classes. I usually check out a collection of about 30 picture books from the library and set them in groups around the room for students to choose from. You could also take the class to the library and let them completely self-select.