Around the world, literary analysis has become a standard part of English education. We want students to slowly uncover the layers of meaning in a text, one sentence at a time. We want them to think critically and connect the text to the world around them. Many English teachers have a passion for literature and ease with reading complex texts. This process is not always as exciting for our pupils.
There are a million different ways to approach literary analysis, but some activities always seem to get students thinking more deeply and engaging more with the text. Here are 10 of our favorite literary analysis activities:
1. Create a character map
One way to get students to think deeply about a character is to have them create a character map. This activity allows students to track the development of a character throughout the course of a novel, play, or poem. For example, you can use the Holes lesson plans from the storyboardthat.com website or create your own. Students can record quotes, events, and their own observations about the character’s development on the map.
2. Write a letter to the author
Another way to get students thinking deeply about a text is to have them write a letter to the author. In this activity, students pretend they are the character of their choice and write a letter to the author detailing their thoughts and experiences. This activity can be done with any text, but it works especially well with first-person narratives.
3. Draw a scene from the text
Visual learners will appreciate this activity, which asks them to draw a scene from the text. Students can choose any scene they want and should include as many details as possible. This activity helps students engage with the text on a personal level and allows them to share their interpretation with the class.
4. Create a board game
This activity is great for group work. Students create a board game based on the events of the story. The object of the game is to get from start to finish while encountering different challenges along the way. This activity encourages students to think about the sequence of events in the story and to make inferences about what might happen next.
5. Write an alternative ending
This exercise asks students to use their imagination to write an alternative ending to the story. Students can choose any ending they want, as long as it is plausible and fits with the events of the story. This activity allows students to explore what might have been and to think critically about the choices made by the characters in the story.
6. Make a collage
This activity is similar to the “Draw a scene” activity, but it is geared more towards visual learners. In this activity, students choose a scene from the text and create a collage depicting that scene. Students can use pictures from magazines, newspapers, or the internet, or they can draw their own pictures. This activity allows students to be creative and to share their interpretation of the scene with the class.
7. Write a poem
Ask students to choose a theme or idea from the text and write a poem about it. Students can use any form or style of poetry they want, and they can either write their own poem or choose one that has already been written. This activity allows students to express their thoughts and feelings about the text in a creative way.
8. Perform a scene
This approach is perfect for drama lovers. Students choose a scene from the text and perform it for the class. This can be done as a group or individually. This activity allows students to share their feelings about the text with the class and to get creative with their delivery.
9. Pick a soundtrack
This activity is perfect for music lovers. Students create a playlist of songs that represent different scenes, characters, or themes in the text. This activity allows students to connect the text to their own lives.
10. Give a speech
This activity is perfect for students who are interested in public speaking. Students choose a character from the text and give a speech from that character’s point of view. This activity allows students to think deeply about the motivations and experiences of the character they have chosen.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. There are endless possibilities when it comes to creative ways to engage with a text. The important thing is to find an activity that interests you and that will help your students understand the text on a deeper level. What’s important is that you have fun and that you can teach something.