Responding to Literature: Gregor the Overlander

This week we began our new class novel, Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins (the fact that this is the same person who wrote The Hunger Games is a HUGE plus for the kids...they were so excited!) This is a fantasy novel and, so far, fairly easy of a read for the kids.  It gets right into the action, and has hooked the kids from the beginning.  So far, so good!  (and a big thank you Jen for recommending it!)

I wanted to share with you a few of the response activities that we have done so far.  While they are specific to Gregor the Overlander, they could definitely be adapted to fit any novel that you are reading in your class.

Novel Folder

This is SUCH an easy thing to do, but the kids loved it.  We just created a folder (using a 24" by 18" piece of construction paper folded up) and the kids decorated the cover.  They had to include details that came from the first five chapters (that we had already read.)  You would think the kids would be bored by this, as they were simply coloring, but they got so into it!  Coloring the cover as really relaxing for them...and gosh knows we don't always take time to relax nowadays!

Growing Character Sketch

This is a piece of paper folded in half.  In the first chapter of the story, the main character is described in fairly good detail, so I asked the kids to draw a picture of him based on the description.  They then had to use 5 adjectives to describe him, supporting those adjectives with evidence from the text.  As the novel goes on, I am planning on having the students draw three more character sketches of the main character showing how he is changing and growing over the course of the novel.

Map of Regalia

There is a great description of the city in which the Underlanders live at the beginning of chapter 5.  So I asked the kids to draw the city and then quote or paraphrase the text in the border around the picture.   I love how this came out!  The kids were digging into the text and really trying to find evidence of everything they drew on the paper.


To get the kids thinking about the first four chapters we read, I asked them to make a shutterfold foldable, with four sections (one for each chapter.)  Inside, they wrote a summary of each chapter and then asked two or three unanswered questions they had about the chapter.

So there you have it.  A few ideas to respond to literature.  While these are specifically what we did with Gregor, you could definitely adapt them to use with novels you are reading.  What are somethings you have found successful while responding to literature?


  1. My 5th grade son loves that series! Thanks for the ideas...we are reading Esperanza Rising in my 4th grade class, and these ideas will work perfectly! They have been working so hard, they deserve some coloring/relaxing time. Always love your ideas!! :-)

  2. I'm loving the foldable with the summaries & questions! When we read our next novel, I will definitely incorporate this!

  3. These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing them. Does each student have a copy of the book? I don't have a class set of any novels, so I was wondering. Thanks!!

  4. Stephanie,

    I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE this post. Thank for your sharing.



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