By Teachers, For Teachers
“The Magic Tree House” book series by Mary Pope Osborne has been a staple in many classroom libraries all across the country. These educational chapter books have enlightened young children with the fascinating stories that transport the characters to different historical time periods and places. Each volume revolves around siblings Jack and Annie, who discover that a tree house near their home can take them away on faraway adventures. Teachers love this series because students can relate to the characters while learning more about historical events. Here are a few fun classroom activities using “The Magic Tree House” series.
A fun and creative activity for students is to choose a character from the series (an antagonist) and create a wanted poster for them. For the poster, students need to have some background on the character in order to help identify them. Students should write helpful information on the poster that will help lead to their capture, such as the outlaws’ physical description, their crime, any nicknames they have, and of course, what the reward is for their capture. If you’d like to extend upon this activity, you can go a step further and have students write a short story about the character they choose. This story can be a short biography or an excerpt about what made this character an outlaw.
“The Magic Tree House” series is mostly historical fiction. However, while some things in the books are based on what really happened in real life, other parts are made up by the author. For this activity, challenge students to figure out what’s real and what’s fake. Break students into groups and have them fact-check what they think is real, and what they think is fake. They can use the Internet or books from the library to help them. Challenge students to try and come up with at least five facts, as well as supporting proof to back up these facts. Once students have found their facts, each group can share what they found by giving a short presentation to the class.
A great way to help students understand the setting in a story is to have them choose their favorite scene from one of “The Magic Tree House” books, and recreate it using the game Minecraft. Students would use the game to create their favorite setting, then take a photograph of their creation to show off their work. If you do not have access to this game, then students can either use blocks or Legos, or draw a scene from the story.
One of the many great things about “The Magic Tree House” series is how the books have a cliffhanger. For this activity, discuss what a cliffhanger is (an abrupt ending to a plot) and show students a few examples from the series. Once you think they grasp what a cliffhanger is, then you can challenge them to write one of their own. An easy way to do this is to read an excerpt from one of the books in the series, then suddenly stop at any random point throughout the book. The student’s job is to now write a cliffhanger from at the point where you stopped reading. Have students try writing one on their own, then one with a partner. Example: The chapter ends with Jack and Annie entering the door to find a suspicious person in their house.
Another amazing idea to incorporate “The Magic Tree House” books into your classroom activities is to have students create a classroom time machine. All you need is a huge cardboard box, like from a refrigerator, some art supplies, and a huge imagination. Once students have created their time machine, they can take turns sitting inside of it and travel through time just like Jack and Annie. If you want to get high-tech, you can even have students use a tablet to be transported to other fun historical sites like in the book series. The tablet will help students be transported to different historical places like in the books where they can learn more and make connections.
Join “The Magic Tree House” teachers’ club and tell how you use these books in your classroom. You can win the educator of the year contest, a trip to meet the author in New York City as well as $500 in books and supplies for your classroom. They have a contest every year, so don’t miss out and sign up today!
Do you use “The Magic Tree House” book series in your classroom? If so, how do you use them and do you incorporate any fun classroom activities? Please share your ideas, suggestions and comments in the section below, we’d love to hear from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.