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Middle School Reading Fair Project Ideas

by Shellie Braeuner

Reading fairs are designed to encourage students to read and explore literature. Like science fairs, reading fairs use simple presentations to show the student’s knowledge about a particular book. These projects include a storyboard with concise explanations of the characters and plot. But they aren’t limited to a dry synopsis of the book. Competitions can be fierce. Helping your child’s project stand out can be the difference between a red and blue ribbon.

Read the Rubric

The school or competing body should send home a rubric with everything the student must know to compete. Many competitions use simple tri-fold cardboard as the basis of the storyboard. The instructions should outline the height, width and depth of the project. It should also include expectations for the project. This includes everything that must be included on the storyboard. There may also be additional instructions saying what decorations are allowed. Whatever idea you may have, follow these instructions to the letter. The child may be disqualified for adding embellishments that are prohibited.

Choosing the Board

Tri-fold boards come in white and solid colors. Students may paint or cover the board with paper to create a storyboard that reflects the feel of the book. A fun, spunky book such as “Because of Winn Dixie,” might be well served by a bright colored background. A more serious piece such as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” will need a more somber tone. Choose the right background for your book presentation.

Writing

Much of the presentation is dependent on the writing about the book. This includes character sketches and an outline of the book. Before decorating your board, consider how to organize the information. The Mississippi Board of Education reminds students that there are many ways to organize story facts. Students may create a story web that links character and ideas to a central theme. They can present the facts in a simple chronological order. Students can ask questions such as when, why or where and answer them from the character’s point of view, or compare the actions of one character to another. Students may even combine these different ways of exploring a book to create a unique presentation structure. Make sure that the writing is spelled correctly and is neat. Check with the rules to determine if computer printed text is allowed.

Decorations

After all of the information has been placed in a pleasing manner, it is time to decorate the board. Some students may opt to draw characters and situations from the book. Other students may choose printed photos of characters or setting. Don’t limit your project to two-dimensions. Add three-dimensional elements such as sculpted paper characters or borders. For example, a project about “The Swiss Family Robinson” may be decorated across the top with paper twisted into jungle vines or sand glued to the bottom of the board to represent a beach.

Dioramas

Many reading fair rules allow students to use table space. This means, that as long as it fits between the two sides of the tri-fold board, students can add to their project with a diorama or other decoration. Be sure to check the rules for your competition, but a well done diorama can make a project stand out. Try creating a pivotal scene from the book in clay. Decorate dolls to look like the characters and place them at the base of the project. Create a landscape out of paper and place small cardboard figures in the scene.

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