Preparing for a substitute? Just want an easy way to include a book’s theme throughout your lesson plans? Using book companions in kindergarten can be a great resource. A book companion is exactly what it sounds like! It's a set of activities that students can complete alongside a read aloud. It usually includes the same theme or subject as the book.
Sometimes the activities are literacy based. Others they address important areas like math and brain breaks. Here is how my students use book companions—whether I assign these activities myself or leave them as easy-low prep sub plans.
When using book companions in kindergarten for reading, there is going to be a central read aloud that all of the activities revolve around. For example, one of my book companions focuses on the book Love Monster by Rachel Bright. Then, in the reading section, I also include other read alouds that go along with the central read aloud, such as Love Monster and the Last Chocolate.
Any time you share read alouds with students, it is also important to include some reading comprehension work. For this reason, the reading section of the book companion has focus questions like “What is the problem?” and “Who is the main character?” Like I said before, resources like this are especially great for last-minute sub plans because they include little details that will help a substitute teacher navigate the lesson plans with ease.
After reading different read alouds mentioned within the book companion, students can also write about different topics associated with the main book. For Love Monster, students might write about kindness. With other books and book companions like How to Catch the Easter Bunny by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton, students can write about topics like how they would catch the Easter Bunny! Having writing prompt ideas on hand like these can help to simplify writing time, whether you are using them yourself or leaving them for a sub.
Math and Literacy Worksheets
With each book companion I create, I also include math and literacy worksheets that address different kindergarten skills. Typically, these are skills that students are familiar with, so the worksheets are predictable. Each worksheet is also themed like the book they accompany.
For example, with the How to Catch the Tooth Fairy book companion, students can work on counting and addition with teeth with a dental-themed worksheet.
In the Spring is Here book companion, students can practice things like CVC words with a spring theme.
These simple and straightforward worksheets are perfect to leave as sub work or even as center activities. They are predictable but engaging due to the fun themes!
Depending on which book the resource is accompanies, I also include activities for other skills. Most of my book companions include thematic brain breaks that go with the stories. For example, with the How to Catch the Tooth Fairy book companion, students can do the “Floss Dance” in a brain break. Sometimes, I also include activities for skills, such as SEL, cutting, or even health when it makes sense for the book.
Overall, book companions are a great resource to have when you want some low-prep and straightforward sub plans for your classroom. However, you can also use them any time you want to focus your classroom activities around a particular theme or read aloud. Regardless of what you use them for, your students will love having fun thematic activities that address different kindergarten skills.
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