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Thrills! Chills! Using Scary Stories to Motivate Students to Read
|Grades||6 – 8|
|Lesson Plan Type||Unit|
|Estimated Time||Ten 60- to 90-minute sessions|
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
This lesson taps into students' desire to read scary stories and, at the same time, helps them explore story structure and develop critical thinking skills. Students examine story elements (e.g., character, setting, plot) through teacher read-alouds and independent reading. Reader-response journals and graphic organizers prepare students for the culminating activity-the creation of their own scary stories. While this lesson uses the Goosebumps series as a model, it can be conducted using any scary story. Goosebumps books should be an easy read for most students at this level, so even struggling readers can actively participate in this lesson.
- Interactive Venn Diagram: Students will use this interactive tool, along with their completed Character Descriptions Organizers, to help them compare and contrast the main character and villain.
- Interactive Story Map: Students will use The 5 Ws of Scary Story Writing to identify and describe the story elements (i.e., character, setting, conflict, resolution) and then type their responses into the interactive tool.
- How to Write Your Own Scary Story: Students will use this handy sheet to brainstorm ideas for a story plot, choose a villain, and write a surprise ending for their own scary stories.
Richards, P.O., Thatcher, D.H., Shreeves, M., Timmons, P., & Barker, S. (1999). Don't let a good scare frighten you: Choosing and using quality chillers to promote reading. The Reading Teacher, 52(8), 830–840.
- Children choose to read scary stories for pleasure, and the new juvenile horror genre has become extremely popular in the past decade. The Goosebumps books, in particular, deliver an emotional punch; they have fast-paced plots, suspense, and dramatic power.
- Teachers can use students' expressed interest in scary stories to engage them in worthwhile instructional activities, such as the study of various story elements and structures.
- After analyzing the key elements of scary stories, students can apply their knowledge by writing their own scary stories.
- Studying scary stories in class can help students employ the skills and strategies they are learning, while at the same time, increase their reading competency and their desire to read.