For our young students, school can be scary. It may be the first time they are away from their parents all day. For others, just the sheer size of the large building can be overwhelming. And for yet others, being surrounded by people people they don’t know well is just terrifying. Some students adjust quickly while others hang on to this fear for months. Sheila Rae, The Brave is the perfect book for inspiring your students on such an occasion. Whether the beginning of the school year, during a Kevin Henkes author study, or just because, your students are going to love learning with Sheila Rae! I am so excited to share with you my favorite Sheila Rae, The Brave activities that I use in my classroom.
Sheila Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes is about a little mouse who isn’t afraid of anything! She is so brave she can do many things other little mice can’t. But, in an adorable turn of events, Sheila Rae finds herself in a situation that makes her feel less than brave. She is lost and feels helpless. It’s at this moment, that her not-so-brave little sister, Louise, saves the day. Because of Louise’s ability to recognize that she too can be brave, she is able to help get them both back to the safety and to the comfort of their own home.
Sheila Rae and Louise learn some very important lessons including:
- Everybody can be brave
- It’s okay to be scared
- Bravery comes in all different forms
I don’t know about you, but those are some lessons I want to share with my students. I hope that in that quick summary you can already see just what a wonderful addition this book is to your lesson plans. Sheila Rae, The Brave has so many great skills and concepts that you can work on too! With activities for character analysis, sequencing, writing, making connections, and social-emotional learning, turning it into a book study was a no-brainer! I hope you enjoy all of the fun and engaging Sheila Rae, The Brave activities as much as my students and I do.
Sheila Rae, The Brave Activities and Book Study
I love teaching Sheila Rae, The Brave as a book study that stretches out over several days. This time really helps my students really dig into the themes, characters, and vocabulary of the story.
These Sheila Rae, The Brave activities are also a great mentor text for many of the skills we cover throughout the year including:
- vocabulary development
- recalling text details
- reading comprehension
So, if you can’t fit this in at the beginning of the school year – no worries! It’s a great book study any time of the year.
Day 1: Introduction to Sheila Rae, The Brave
I love starting out a book study by asking my students to put on their detective hats. By using the color by sight word pictures, students are working on sight words while getting a peek at the main character from our book. It’s a wonderful way to get students engaged and excited about the book we are about to begin.
Next, we begin our book study by taking a book walk. Asking my student to take some time to look at the book cover and some of the pictures inside really gets their little minds working overtime. Predicting what the book could be about is a fun activity my students love. After reading the title, I always get some quizzical looks and a few questions about how a mouse could ever be brave.
Diving into Vocabulary
I love to introduce students to vocabulary words before reading a new book. Some people might think this is backwards, but I have found it very useful for my students. By being introduced to some of the book vocabulary before reading the story, students have some understanding on which to connect the story to. Because of this, student comprehension is increased too!
Using an anchor chart is the easiest way to introduce vocabulary from the book. I love to introduce new words by teaching students the word and the definition accompanied with a picture. After reading the story, we go back and add an example from the story too! When students are working with new vocabulary words on these different levels they have a greater likelihood of remembering the word and the meaning. The anchor chart stays posted in the front of the room and helps students with learning throughout the book study. It’s an easy visual for them to refer to over and over again.
During our book study we will review the words in order to help students learn them. One of the favorite vocabulary activities is creating personal vocabulary cards. The students will illustrate each of the words to help them remember it. Even the youngest of students that aren’t writing yet can be successful in this vocabulary activity. My students love showing off their drawings. I love watching them share and talk about their new words with their classmates. The more time students can spend learning from and collaborating with each other the better.
Time to Read!
My students absolutely love our read-aloud time and look forward to it even more during our book study units. I’m not ashamed to say it’s my favorite time of the day too! I love creating voices and using a lot of emotion in my reading to help the story come to life for my students.
During the first class reading of Sheila Rae, The Brave, my students are amazed at how brave Sheila Rae is. They get even more excited to find out that Louise, the younger sister, turns out to be the hero of the whole story.
We finish up Day 1 by talking about the predictions we made earlier. Were they spot on or way off? Were there any surprises in the story? For today, it’s just about enjoying the book and getting to know Sheila Rae and Louise a little better.
Day 2: Character Traits
Day 2 begins with another reading of Sheila Rae, The Brave. It’s adorable to see how excited my students are to hear the story again. This time, as I’m reading through the book, I like to ask questions every few pages. This helps me to do a quick, informal check to see if my students are understanding the story and concepts. I ask questions like, “Do you think Sheila Rae is being brave when she makes this decision?” or “Why do you think Louise is feeling scared right now?”. Questions like these really help my students to relate to the main characters and process the feelings and emotions they may be experiencing.
Introducing Character Traits
After reading, I ask my students to describe Sheila Rae and Louise to someone who had never read the story. We take time to write down the words on a big sheet of butcher paper. Then I explain that the words they are using to describe Sheila Rae and Louise are called character traits.
After we have a nice big list, we sort physical traits and internal character traits. While it’s usually easier for my students to describe the physical characteristics of a person or character, we usually have to spend a little more time talking about internal characteristics.
This is a great opportunity to have students identify a few of their own internal characteristics. Are they brave like Sheila Rae, or maybe a little more timid like Louise? Using yourself as an example is also a great technique to get students to open up. They may not realize that outside of the classroom you are shy and reserved. It’s good for students to know you are human too!
Then, I like to play a game I call “Just like me”. I choose either a physical characteristic like “I have blue eyes” or “I’m wearing shoes” or an internal characteristic like, “I think about chocolate all the time” or “I’m afraid of spiders” and share them with the class. When someone agrees that they have the same characteristic, they stand up and yell “JUST LIKE ME!” It’s such a fun activity to get students to realize they have some similarities and some differences and that’s what makes us all so special.
We end our day doing a little comparing and contrasting activity with our two main characters. The students love taking the character traits they identified and putting them into the Venn Diagram. I love to have students share one example from their sheet with the class. As they share we work on using the words ‘the same’ and ‘different’ in our sentences. This is quick and easy way to connect the concepts of comparing and contrasting with important vocabulary.
Day 3: It’s All About Sequencing
Day 3 is all about sequencing. Before we take time to read Sheila Rae, The Brave again, we discuss the sequence of events. The time I spend on this really depends on the time of year I choose to do the book study. If I’m teaching this book study at the beginning of the year, I may go into more instruction than I would if we were just reviewing the concept later in the year.
We organize the story events by where they happened in the story. Did the event happen in the beginning, middle or end? Once we have done that we can start putting the events in order. I like to use the words first, next, then, and last during out sequencing activities because this lays the foundation for summarizing. When students hear those words being used with related skills, it helps them to connect the skills together. It’s really hard to give a good summary if you haven’t first ordered the events.
After we had sequenced the events as a class, we read the story again to see if we were correct. After each event that is on our anchor chart, I stop to see if it is in the correct place. If not, we fix it.
After reading, students will work independently on their own sequencing activity. I don’t know about you, but my students love every opportunity to cut and paste anything they can get their hands on. The Sequence of Events cut and paste worksheets give students the opportunity to cut out sentences from the story and paste them in the correct order on the lines provided.
Finally, I take some time to have students read out what happened first, next, then, and last as a review our sequencing vocabulary. This really helps to solidify their understanding of the sequence of events. This activity is the perfect way to prepare for our final activity of the day.
The Sheila Rae and Louise sequencing craft is a favorite activity year after year. Now that the students are feeling confident about the events in the story, they ready to start putting the story events in their own words. However, this time they are going to sequence the events for each character.
The students love writing out and illustrating the story events. I love that with all the practice we’ve done and the tools we’ve created, each student can work successfully at their own level. Confident students usually jump right in, often expanding on what we have discussed as a class. Other students love to use the sequencing anchor chart as their guide. Both are great!
In addition to reviewing sequencing, students also get some great fine motor practice with this cute craft activity. And while it might just look like fun, I know that each cut of the scissors is strengthening their hand muscles for writing.
Your students are going to love learning about sequencing with these fun Sheila Rae, The Brave activities.
Day 4: Social Emotional Learning
I Am Brave
It’s time for a class discussion about how each and every one of us feel scared sometimes, but also about how brave we are. I like to remind my students that Louise didn’t start out brave like Sheila Rae. I use examples of times in my life when I felt scared and other times when I felt brave. Then I let the students share.
This is a great social emotional learning lesson and opportunity for building class community. For many students there is a sense of relief when they find out they are not the only ones afraid of the dark, spiders or visiting the dentist.
We also love to celebrate each other as they share times or events where they were brave. This is what I really want my kiddos to focus on today, how brave they really are. Building up my student’s self-confidence is something I take great pride in!
Next, we create our Brave Books. I love this booklet so much because it celebrates how each student is brave. On the pages, students use sentence stems to write sentences about things they aren’t afraid of and include their very own illustrations. The very last page includes a section to write and illustrate something they are actually afraid of. It’s a cute way to remind them that it’s okay to be scared of some things.
Sharing is always my student’s favorite part of the activity. It’s a great reminder of how they are all alike in some ways and different in others. Not only do they celebrate their differences, but they see how they are all alike in a lot of ways too. This booklet is a great way to boost your student’s confidence!
Sheila Rae, The Brave Flag Craft
We finish this day by creating our Bravery Flag. The students love that they get to have their own flag just like Sheila Rae! Depending on the age of your students, this can be something they create or you can have them pre-made. The students will choose one of their brave acts from our previous activities to display on the flag.
After my students are done completing their flags, it’s time for our most favorite activity of all! I ask my students to bring their “Bravery Flag” and come sit together in a circle on the carpet. I ask each student to stand up and read the sentence from their flag telling us how they are brave. Then comes the best part… after the student is done sharing, the whole class says to them, “_____ you are brave! You are fearless”. Then the student says back to the class, ” We all are!” This is such an incredibly empowering activity for all of my students to participate in.
Day 5: Wrapping it All Up
This reading comprehension tri-fold activity is a great to pull all the learning together in one place. It also make a great informal assessment to see how students are doing with the concepts we learned.
Some of the comprehension questions include:
- How did Louise help Sheila Rae?
- How did the story end?
- What are some things that Sheila Rae isn’t afraid of?”
This informal assessment not only asks students to answer comprehension questions by writing their answers in complete sentences, but also provides a space for them to illustrate their answer as well. It is a great way to continue moving students to higher levels of thinking and application.
If you know me, then you know how much I love the opportunity to bring art into my lessons. From fine motor skills to following directions, using a art as a way to connect with skills like reading and writing is a no brainer.
My students love completing the Sheila Rae and Louise directed drawing. The directed drawing activity can be printed out and given to students individually or put into a center. Here students will follow the written instructions and draw their own picture. You can also complete this as a whole class activity. Use the steps as a guideline to draw each step on the board for students to follow. I know my students always love drawing with me, even if I’m not the best artist out there.
Once done your students will be so proud of their picture. You can stop there or you can connect it with a writing activity. I love to have students write a letter to the characters from our story.
My students are always a little sad to say goodbye to their book study character friends, so I like to give them the opportunity to write one or both characters a letter on the last day of the unit. Writing a letter to a book character is a great way to connect reading and writing. Sheila Rae, The Brave is such a wonderful book because it hits on some really important themes like self-esteem, bravery, and being vulnerable. By the time we have unpacked her character traits and connected our similarities and differences to Sheila Rae and Louise, they are a part of our classroom family. It’s a great ending activity.
After students have finished writing, display their letters with their directed drawings for a great bulletin board or hallway display.
Bring Sheila Rae to Your Classroom!
Could your classroom use a little Sheila Rae? This book study is a great way to work on some many academic and social-emotional skills. All of the activities described above, and more, are included in this fun and engaging book study. Plus, many of the activities are provided in digital form too! You can choose to use the Google based activities or the SeeSaw activities since both are provided. This is a wonderful way to integrate technology, connect a technology center, or use with 1:1 classrooms or at home learning.
Add these Sheila Rae, The Brave activities to your lesson plans and get ready to watch your students love learning!
If you love these Sheila Rae, The Brave activities, then be sure to check out my Back To School Book Bundle. This bundle features activities for four books that are perfect for the beginning of the school year! (But you can use them any time too!) How great would it be to have a huge chunk of those first month or first quarter lesson plans done!
The Back to School Bundle includes activities for the following books:
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