Teach creatively…even with the textbook!

creativity to textbookTextbook. The mere word can provoke eye rolls from both students and teachers. Textbooks are all too often synonymous with:


-busy work

-answer-the-question-in-complete-sentences-or-else type assignments

I agree that textbooks can sometimes be all of the above, but I’m here to tell you, they don’t have to be. Now, this is not a post about how much I love textbooks and think they are wonderful, because that is far from the case, but I also do not think textbooks should be burned at the stake, either.

I think that textbooks, when used in moderation, can be a valuable asset to even the most creative and engaging of learning environments.

Here are some reasons not to get rid of textbooks just yet: 

  1. They are usually written by experts in the field.
  2. They are a good source of photos and primary source images.
  3. They provide good practice with informational reading.
  4. They expose students to text features like captions, charts, graphs, and diagrams.
  5. They give students practice using table of contents, glossaries, and the index.

In my ever so humble opinion, textbooks should not make up the majority of your instruction. However, I also know that teachers just do not have a lot of extra time in between meetings and conferences and report cards and analyzing data and training to read the test directions from the manual verbatim and all of the other stuff that you have to do in addition to actually teaching children. As much as you would like every lesson to be hands-on, engaging, and mind-igniting, well, there is just not always time to do that.

So I thought I’d share with you a list of ideas to make your textbook days a little more engaging and creative. Here goes:

20 ways to add creativity to your textbook lessons

  1. Go on a text feature walk and point out captions, pictures, graphs, headings, and other text features in today’s reading.
  2. Have students read a section and write the main idea. Then, switch papers, and have their partner write two supporting details.
  3. Have students write three quiz questions based on the reading and trade with partners.
  4. Read the passage and make a list of 5 most important facts ranked in order of importance.
  5. Before reading write 3 things you learn from the pictures and captions, then 2 interesting facts from reading, and finally 1 question you still have when finished.
  6. After reading, have students write a summary that is exactly 20 words long, no more, no less.
  7. After reading, have students write 3 examples of cause and effect from the reading.
  8. Have students make a list of the 10 most important words from the reading. They should be prepared to defend their choices.
  9. Have students choose a fact or detail from the writing, and then write an opinion paragraph about that fact.
  10. Have students write an attention getting newspaper article about today’s reading.
  11. Have students record 2-column notes about the passage.
  12. Have students choose a process described in today’s reading. Then, write the steps in order.
  13. Have students compose a 30 second news broadcast about the reading.
  14. Have students create a museum exhibit about something from the reading.
  15. Have groups of students come to a consensus of the three most important facts from the reading.
  16. Have students pretend to be “experts” on the subject and take turns asking each other questions about the topic. They may even try to “stump” the expert.
  17. Have students read their favorite caption in a reporter voice.
  18. As students read, have them make a list of all of the prefixes in the reading.
  19. Have students make a list of all words that are 4 or more syllables from the reading.
  20. Take turns reading short sections aloud to partners for fluency practice.

If you like these ideas, they are actually a free set of task cards that I created. You can grab them FREE from my TpT store. Hole punch them and hang them in the front of your room so you can grab them when your lesson needs a boost!



Happy Teaching!



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