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Books Alive! Literacy-Based Planning

I love children’s books and I absolutely adore reading with my children. Given this information, it may not come as a surprise that one of my favourite ways to teach my children is through literacy-based planning.

Today I would like to share how literacy-based planning works, give you an example of how I plan this way, and provide you with a FREE, printable, literacy-based planning sheet.

**Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only share links to products I love, so it’s a win-win… you get a great product and I get a commission.**

What is literacy-based planning?

Literacy-based planning involves selecting a book and pulling out a variety of curriculum experiences by using the book as inspiration. The experiences often relate to different curriculum areas (i.e. mathematics, social studies, science, etc.).

I love the Five in a Row curriculum for this reason.

Five in a Row

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The Five in a Row program involves reading the same book five days in a row. Every day a variety of experiences are explored to further enrich the book and to explore various areas of curriculum. The only problem with Five in a Row is that the majority of the books which are used in the curriculum are rare and therefore hard to find.

However, as a former early childhood educator, I’ve been using this approach to teach children for years! Today I want to show you how easy it is to create a literacy-based curriculum around books that you already have available in your home!

How to do literacy-based planning

The first thing to do is select a book which you and your children enjoy. As you choose your book, think about the inspiration behind why you want to use that particular book. Is it seasonal? Is it a household favourite? Is it topical?

You also want to consider the curriculum opportunities that the book provides. Is there something mathematical that can be explored? What about social studies and science? You want to choose a book that has many opportunities to explore the different curriculum areas. High quality children’s literature often lends itself to deeper themes and opportunities for exploration.

Next, you want to write out as many curriculum ideas as you can. My planning sheet includes the areas of:

  • Language arts
  • Mathematics
  • Social studies
  • Science
  • Art
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Other (health, life skills, field trips, etc.)

If you’re stumped for activities, you can research ideas on the internet and Pinterest.

If you would like an example of a complete literacy-based plan, I drafted a complete curriculum around the book, Pete’s a Pizza. The curriculum can be found in my first Books Alive post.

So what do you think of literacy-based planning? Have you tried it? Is it something you enjoy doing? Is it something you would like to try with your children?

I have a FREE 2 page printable to help you through the process of literacy-based planning.

Literacy-based planning printable resource http://thedeliberatemom.com

Subscribers can access the download from the exclusive Deliberate Mom Printable Library. Not a subscriber yet? I invite you to become one using the form below!

*Note: watermark is not on the downloadable copy.*


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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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35 thoughts on “Books Alive! Literacy-Based Planning

  • Janine Huldie

    We totally used to do similar with my students when I taught middle school and would take a book from their English class and use it in the other class subjects to bridge the gap between reading the actual book and applying it to the other subjects areas, such as science, math and more. So, I am totally a supporter of this method and thank you for sharing more ways to connect reading and the other school subjects, as well here today. Wishing you a great day now!! xoxo :)

    • Jaime D Buckley

      See Janine, this is why I shoved my foot in the door.

      …you ladies are the fastest gals I’ve ever SEEN!

      (wait…I think I smell a new post from The Deliberate Mom!)

      *blue blur streaks across the room, the gust sending papers tumbling through the air*

  • Jaime D Buckley

    YES!! I was FIRST!
    (does his happy dance)

    ….never thought I’d get here to comment first. Gonnnnna be a GOOD day, oh yea it is….

    Fantastic topic, Jennifer. But you know why I specifically enjoyed it?
    There’s talk in my house of why we haven’t done SOMEthing with my fantasy books, which are all middle grade level, and created resources for homeschoolers.

    Just didn’t think I was clever enough–but this post OH SO motivated me with some ideas.

    In fact, I’ve been planning here, as the rest of the house sleeps, on a special game idea as well. All of this revolving around reading.

    SO officially i think you’re awesome today.
    (you already had a standing account in that department, but hey–I think it important to remind you that you’re awesome and I appreciate you…)

    Seriously–I’m stoked right now. Awesome topic!

    QUESTION: Can I make a request for subject matter/post topic?

    I’d love if you or one of the other brilliant moms in this community would do a post on “the most sought after/required resources for struggling homeschool parents”.

    We do a lot around here—and make a great deal, which we share with other families in the nearby community (farmers)…and I’m wondering if perhaps we have some things/methods that could help others.

    Just a thought–again, inspired by this post =)

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I’ve delighted this resonated with you Jaime! To think it inspired you to apply to your own books is exciting!

      You should poll families in some Google+ homeschool communities and see what “the most sought after/required resources are for struggling homeschool parents”. It’s a fabulous question. Speaking for myself, the resource is often mentorship/connections with other homeschoolers.

      Thanks so much for your enthusiastic and encouraging words this morning!

  • Renee

    Great post, Jennifer! I used Five in a Row years ago. I have such fond memories of just diving into books and doing all of my teaching that way. I am sharing this post with my own blog readers!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Hi Kristen!

      I’m delighted that you’re interested in this approach. You can start this kind of exploration with a 3-year-old. I did this while I worked with preschoolers and it’s a wonderful approach. If you take a look at my Pete’s a Pizza example, you’ll see how it can be geared to young children.

      Since you’re the one developing the curriculum, you can determine how complex the learning experiences will be (i.e. using the Pete’s a Pizza example, are you going to count the pizza toppings or is your child old enough to start exploring fractions)?

      I will be periodically sharing examples of literacy-planning here on the blog, so you’re free to explore any of the books/examples I share as well.

  • Ifeoma Samuel

    Hi Jennifer, I always look forward to your parenting post. I love this and I am going over to see Books Alive. Thank you for pouring out yourself into countless number of people.

    May God continue to be your strength and refill you always.

  • Jen@JENerallyInformed

    I love Pete’s a Pizza! That is one of my favorite book centered lessons to do with my children!

    There is so much you can gather and learn from a book and your ideas are great! We read a series my oldest loved and out of school she and I spent weeks learning about the locale and it’s people.

  • April

    I hate that I didn’t know about this before this year. It would have been wonderful to use with my daughter. Her father is teaching her and I’ve lacked inspiration! Great post.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Well April, one thing I learned about homeschooling is that you have complete control and can switch gears (and curriculum) any time you choose! That’s one of the many reasons why I love homeschooling!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on literacy-based planning.

  • Debbie

    Hi Jennifer, reading with my children when they were small was one of my favourite things to do. We used to start the day with a book and finish the day with a book and often read or look through a book during the day too.

    Talking and learning about what we read (we still do it now, but in a different kind of way) was part of the fun.

    The magic of books will never cease to amaze me…Or I hope it doesn’t.

    Great post, but I’m feeling as if I missed out on the book Pete’s Pizza as I had never heard of it before…xx

  • Monica

    I love this! This is such a wonderful idea for homeschooling and non-homeschooling mothers alike. We try to read books at bedtime every night. My daughter likes to pick out the same ones over and over, so maybe we could do something like this and make a lesson out of the book in addition to reading it a billion times. :)

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed this Monica. Yes, you could definitely do this with those favourite books you read over and over again. That’s the beautiful thing about literacy-based planning… you’ll see that once you teach a lesson, your child will recall/remember it for the next reading. The learning just grows with every subsequent reading and lesson! It’s one of my favourite ways to teach.

  • Amanda

    I love this idea! I’m going to try it out with Cecil the Pet Glacier (a book we checked out from the library so many times we went and bought it!) as soon as I can get your printable downloaded!

  • Jessica Dimas

    I really love this concept!!! I was always an avid reader and loved books, so I would’ve loved this kind of literacy based learning and something I definitely want to do when I start homeschooling. I feel really bad that I haven’t really gotten into a good habit of reading with my boys though. Do you have any suggestions for how often and for how long you’d read to a 2 and 4 year old? My littlest one is OBSESSED with books and his attention span is actually pretty decent.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      This is by far, my favourite way to plan curriculum and my girls love it!

      I would say to read as much as you can! When I worked in childcare (and even now as a mom) I would intentionally set up activities with related books nearby. For example, I would set up a train set with a basket of train books in a basket right beside it. Children would pick up and look at these books whenever they liked and if they wanted it read to them, we would read. I read to my girls a minimum of 3 times a day but I’m certain on most days it’s well above that.

      Children need to hear you reading out loud so that when it comes time for them to learn how to read, they have some idea of letter/sound relationships and they may even gain some word recognition simply from being read aloud to.

      If you want to do short bits of reading periodically throughout the day, I’m sure that would suffice!

  • Brittnei

    Wow this sounds like an amazing idea! I sort of do impromptu things with my son based on what he’s learning or to review what he already knows when we are reading now. Now that you’ve shared how it is something to plan and engage on more subjects I could see myself using this in the future as he gets into learning more and our homeschool schedule becomes more structured.

  • Tiffany-A Touch of Grace

    This is great Jennifer! Even though I’m not homeschooling A I can definitely do this. She LOVES books so much so this would be so great for us to do, and her nanny too. We’re really working on her reading the words. She has so many of her books memorized that it’s hard to know if she’s reading or not, but I’m trying to point to words and have her help sound them out too.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Sarah @ GlamGranolaGeek

    I hadn’t heard of this method of teaching! Sounds like it would be great to be able to use books that you know your child already enjoys. Genius! Thanks for linking up at the Ladies Collective Linkup! Hope to see you there this Wednesday too!