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How to Successfully use Living Books with Multiple Ages

June 23, 2014 3 min read

Tracey and I are the same age, but we know that most of our readers are not. In fact, loads of you have emailed us asking how you can use living books with multiple ages.

As so today, we have asked Paige, our resident living books expert, to come back once again and share about how to successfully use living books with lots of differently aged kids.

So join me in giving a collective virtual wave to Paige!

How To Successfully Use Living Books With Multiple Ages

living books with multiple ages

As homeschoolers, it is not uncommon for us to have a wide age range of students. The wonderful thing about living books is that they give us the ability to easily scale a lesson to fit multiple ages.

But how exactly does one go about doing that?

Today, I'm glad to be back here on the Sassafras blog, sharing tips for using living books with both younger and older students.

What is a living book?

Let’s begin with a review what a living book is:

A living book is a book that engages the reader and draws them in to learn more about the subject.

If you want to know more about these resources, check out these two posts that I previously shared:

Reading living books with younger students

When you read living books with the younger crowd your main focus is to introduce them to the material in an interesting way.

Here are several tips for making the most of your living books study with the younger crowd:

  • Read and enjoy - There's nothing like curling up on the couch with your little ones, sharing a wonderful living book. You can pause along the way to interject some additional facts or personal stories relating to the material, but for the most part, you can just read and enjoy. You will be surprised at how much the students pick up.
  • Oral narrations - For the younger crowd, I suggest using oral narrations. So, at the end of a chapter, you would close the book and ask a few questions.  You can ask things like, "What happened in that chapter?, What did you learn?, What did you find interesting?" If the students are interested and able, have them record their answers in a lapbook or on a simple notebooking page.
  • Hands-on Projects - When you are finished with reading and the students are finished with sharing what they have learned, you can move onto a related hands-on project.

Each of these tips serves to give younger students a marker peg in their minds on which to hang the information they are learning.

Reading living books with older students

When you read living books with the older crowd your main focus is to feed them with important facts in a memorable way.

Here are several tools for making the most of your living books study with the older crowd:

  • Read and Enjoy - Once more, the best way to begin a living books study is to read and enjoy the book. For older students, you can do this collectively as a family, or you can have them read the book on their own.
  • Written Narrations - After the students are finished reading, you will want them to record what they have learned. This can be a written narration or summary of the chapter, or it can be a bullet-point list of the facts they learned.
  • Relevant Non-fiction Books - Once they are done with their narration, you can add in other relevant non-fiction books. These can be encyclopedias or books from the library. If they are interested and able, have the students outline what they have learned from these additional resources.
  • Activities and Projects - Again, the older students can do an activity or project that ties into what they just read. These projects can be done as a family, or as an individual.

Each of these tools will act as a touch-point with the material.  Multiple touch-points will work together to firmly affix the information into the older students' brains.

I trust that these tips and tools will help you make the most of living books with multiple ages. Of course, if you have only one age group of students you can certainly use the advice above for making the most of your living books study with them!


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