Adventure Book Club

University of Nebraska- Lincoln Digital Commons - Honors Club

Adventure Book Club - The Boxcar Children

By: Rose Wehrman - University of Nebraska-Lincoln Copyright 2018 by Rose Wehrman under Creative Commons Non-Commercial License. Individuals and organizations may copy, reproduce, distribute, and perform this work and alter or remix this work for non-commercial purposes only.


Name of Club: Adventure Book Club 

Age/Grade Level: 3rd Grade 

Number of Attendees: (ideal number) 8 or fewer 

Goal of the Club: (learning objectives/outcomes) Jumpstart critical thinking skills, improve literacy, and encourage students to engage with books 

Resources: (Information for club provided by) The Boxcar Children, various Pinterest ideas 

Content Areas: (check all that apply) 

  • ☐ Arts (Visual, Music, Theater &Performance) 
  • ☒ Literacy 
  • ☐ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering &Math) 
  • ☐ Social Studies 
  • ☐ Wellness (Physical Education, Health, Nutrition &Character Education) 

Outputs or final products: (Does the club have a final product/project to showcase to community?) Building a boxcar diorama/dog toys donated to animal shelter/completion of book 

Introducing your Club/Activities: This Adventure Book Club engages students with the community, each other, and reading. 

General Directions: Read The Boxcar Children and integrate hands-on activities to help students connect to the story, think critically, and build interdisciplinary skills. 

Tips/Tricks: Watch for when students start to become disengaged. Have an intentional activity prepared for when this happens.


Lesson Activity Name #1: Bookmark Day

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Book
  • Colored paper
  • Scissors 
  • Craft supplies 

Directions: Meet the kids, go over expectations, and then for the first 20-25 minutes, make bookmarks with their names on them so they are ready to mark their progress. Begin reading the book and identifying with the story. 

Conclusion of the activity: Made progress in the story, got to know students, created bookmarks. 

Parts of activity that worked: Students enjoyed it. 

Parts of activity that did not work: It was hard to initially set up a structure for reading.

Lesson Activity Name #2: Hide-and-Seek from the Baker

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Book 

Directions: Read the relating chapter of the story. Then, after getting through as much as possible, ask students why the Boxcar Children decided to hide from the baker and his wife. Why was this important? Then, to have fun, empathize, and combat disengagement, we played hide-and-seek. 

Conclusion of the activity: Students read, thought, and had fun. 

Parts of activity that worked: They had a lot of fun and were excited to get to play a game after sitting and reading. 

Parts of activity that did not work: Games are always extremely high energy and sometimes hard to control.

Lesson Activity Name #3: Becoming a Boxcar Child Activity

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Student journals
  • Pencils
  • Books 

Directions: Read 1-2 chapters of book. When students show signs of disengagement, ask them to grab their journals, then take 10-15 minutes to journal about prompts. The two prompts were “Would you live in the boxcar if you could? Why?” and “Choose a verb from the last chapter and write a story about it.” 

Conclusion of the activity: Students worked on reading and writing skills while getting to use their creativity. 

Parts of activity that worked: The students really thought about whether or not they would choose to live in the boxcar and supported their choice with very good reasoning. 

Parts of activity that did not work: They were not particularly excited about the journaling.

Lesson Activity Name #4: Boxcar Children Dog Toys

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Old t-shirts of many colors
  • Scissors 

Directions: We ripped t-shirts into small strips and then made dog toys out of these. I researched the easiest methods beforehand. In general, the best way was to copy a friendship bracelet and tie four strips into knots. Some students braided, rolled, twisted, or found other ways to make a toy of the up-cycled shirts. 

Conclusion of the activity: Discussed why this is important and asked for predictions regarding the next chapter. The students also considered the new dog character in the story from a new perspective. 

Parts of activity that worked: The kids loved it, and it did direct good for the community. It also involved the children in being part of a project that mattered. 

Parts of activity that did not work: We only had safety scissors and ended up having to rip t-shirts because they weren’t strong enough to cut through.

Lesson Activity Name #5: Cards to Animal Shelter Day

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Colored paper
  • Markers
  • Book
  • Dictionary 

Directions: Read one chapter. Ask why we made dog toys last week—why was it important? Then have children convey these messages in cards to the animal shelter that will be delivered along with the toys. 

Conclusion of the activity: The kids made some really great cards. They definitely thought more deeply about the community aspect of the project. 

Parts of activity that worked: They loved this, and the project integrated art. The students are so bright and compassionate, and I was so happy with the words they chose to say to the animal shelter. 

Parts of activity that did not work: Some of them messed up in marker multiple times and ended up wanting a lot of paper. Another girl tried to request money for the toys we were “selling” them.

Lesson Activity Name #6: Reading Day

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Dictionary
  • Book 

Directions: Focus on making progress in the book. Read several chapters. Ask discussion questions. 

Conclusion of the activity: Progressed in the story. 

Parts of activity that worked: We got a lot farther in the book, and students got to spend time engaging with the story and working on their reading abilities. I brought some Halloween props to help distinguish who was reading and make it more fun. 

Parts of activity that did not work: This is a long time to keep kids’ attention on reading

Lesson Activity Name #7: Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt Day

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Dictionary
  • Pieces of paper with vocabulary words
  • Book 

Directions: Read through another chapter. As we progressed through the chapters of the book, I kept a list of vocabulary words that were difficult or unfamiliar. Then, I wrote these words onto pieces of paper and hid them all around the classroom. The children then had three minutes to run around and search for the words. Each word was worth 1 point, but in order to earn the 1 point, they had to explain what the word meant—if they couldn’t, others got the opportunity to steal. 

Conclusion of the activity: We looked up words in the dictionary that no one could answer for and determined a winner. 

Parts of activity that worked: They had a lot of fun, it incorporated the story, and they definitely learned new words. 

Parts of activity that did not work: One boy found far more words than anyone else, which made it less interesting for everyone else.

Lesson Activity Name #8: $1 Budgeting Activity

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Book
  • Place cards
  • Items for sale (I used shoes, a water bottle, a cookie box, a banana, and other small items). 

Directions: Read the correlating chapter. Discuss why Henry bought what he bought with his $1—then discuss what they would have bought with it. Then give students the chance to choose what they would buy with their $1. Set up items on a separate table with price cards. Students “shop” and decide what they will buy, then come to “check out.” Items are priced in a way that encourages smart shopping (cookies may be $0.70, but water is $0.05). 

Conclusion of the activity: Students learn to explore the worth of a dollar as well as good decision-making by integrating math into the literary activity. 

Parts of activity that worked: They understood it. At the end, one student said that she wanted to buy the cookies, but she didn’t have very much money, so she was just going to buy other more essential items instead. 

Parts of activity that did not work: The students needed more instruction in the activity than I had initially assumed.

Lesson Activity Name #9: Comprehension Day

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Book
  • Small prizes (pencils, stickers, etc.) 

Directions: Read through up to 3 chapters of the book (3 paragraphs per student, continuing). Before starting to read, during the reading, and after the reading, ask comprehension and discussion questions. Reward students for answering. 

Conclusion of the activity: Students all understood certain concepts of the book better, and they were encouraged to think about the story on a deeper level and connect with the character. 

Parts of activity that worked: They were all very motivated to answer questions. 

Parts of activity that did not work: Students wanted to win more prizes than I actually brought.

Lesson Activity Name #10: Building the Pool

Length of Activity: 45 minutes 


  • Book
  • Large box of wooden blocks 

Directions: After reading a chapter of the book, students will pair up and work to build a pool with as much consideration and detail as the children in the book. 

Conclusion of the activity: Students incorporated new ways of thinking, as well as creativity and logistical skills, to build a pool replica of the Boxcar Children’s pool. 

Parts of activity that worked: Students really engaged with the interactivity of this, and I was very impressed with their creativity. Rather than just building a pool, they built walls, steps, and so much more. 

Parts of activity that did not work: We had 200 blocks for 8 children, but we could have used more blocks.

Lesson Activity Name #11: Building a Boxcar

Length of Activity: 45 minutes (2 sessions) 


  • Markers
  • Colored paper
  • Recycled shoeboxes 

Directions: Students will incorporate aspects of the Boxcar Children’s boxcar into their own shoebox boxcar. I encouraged students to come up with their own ideas rather than providing strict guidelines, so this looked very different for each student. Some cut out pools and trees, some cut out shelves and tea cups, and some painted their shoe box red and made it the boxcar. 

Conclusion of the activity: Some very creative, true-to-story boxcars 

Parts of activity that worked: Encouraging students’ creativity in building their own scenes. 

Parts of activity that did not work: Explaining to students that they would not finish the entire project that day.

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Part of the Education Commons, and the Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America Commons
This Portfolio is brought to you for free and open access by the Honors Program at DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln. It has been accepted for inclusion in Honors Expanded Learning Clubs by an authorized administrator of DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Wehrman, Rose, "Adventure Book Club" (2018). Honors Expanded Learning Clubs. 1.

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