Activities to Complement a Visit

These activities are designed to enhance the learning of the Experiments in the Future of Reading exhibit. Students can engage in related activities before or after a visit to the XFR exhibit. Some activities could even be fun and educational if you aren't able to visit!


Write a Story for the Dog
Here's an activity to do before you visit the XFR exhibit. At the museum, you will find a dog that can read. There is lots of stuff in the display for the dog to read, but sometimes the dog would like to get his electronic eyes on some new material! That's where you come in.

Write a short story for the dog to read. The dog's favorite type of story is written on the top half of a regular piece of white paper. Now this poor dog has to read for visitors everyday - seven days a week! Why not give the dog a break and print your story out, using a printer, with nice, big black letters? The dog will be grateful!

Reading-Eye Dog Challenge
1. Assemble a collection of different types of reading materials. Include books, magazines, junk mail, advertisements - the more different types the better.
2. Spread out the materials and divide them into two groups:

Easy to Read

Hard to Read

3. Were there any materials that were hard to fit into the two groups? If so, make a third group and give your new category a name.
4. Now examine your Easy pile, your Hard pile, and your third category, if you have one.
5. Make a chart and write down what makes materials easy or hard to read. What conclusions can you draw from this activity? Did everyone in your group agree?

For example, here are some things you might find:

Easy to Read, Hard to Read, Contains Some of Each Lots of space around words, Print is too tiny, Text is different sizes, Words are blurry

What Haven't You Read Lately Journal
Words are everywhere we look: In our homes, in buildings we visit, in stores, even when we are walking or driving along. We see so many words all the time that sometimes we aren't even aware that we are reading them or taking in their meaning. Here's an activity to help you realize just how much information we are consuming without being fully aware of it.

1. Get a notebook or something that will be easy to write on as you move around.
2. Choose a reading trail. You could tour through a building, walk along a busy sidewalk, or ride in a car while someone else is paying attention to the driving!
3. Try to jot down as many words and phrases as you can see. You should find yourself noticing far more than you usually do.
4. Now it's time to analyze your journal. Pick out four of the messages that you jotted down and highlight them. For each one, describe what the words are trying to convey? Is this message giving you directions? Is it trying to persuade you to do or buy something? Is it warning you? Have you seen this message before but never really stopped to think about it?
5. How many different types of messages can you identify in your entire journal?

Design Your Own Book Soundtracks!
This activity could be done as a class, in groups or pairs, or by individual students.

Have you ever read a book and imagined hearing music in the background? Now is your chance to create a soundtrack to accompany a book! Choose a children’s book that you enjoy, preferably one with many different kinds of things happening in it. As you read through the book, imagine the kind of music that might be playing for each page. Write down your ideas. Try to find the music (or something close to it) that you decided on. Using two tape or CD players, cue the music to go with the pages of the book. Practice reading and playing the music, and present your book soundtrack to the class!

Fluid Reader Fun
To prepare for this activity, you need to find a short, simple story that has a distinct beginning, middle, and ending. Some stories for younger children could be just perfect - especially one that is unfamiliar. Write each part of the story on a different piece of paper. Now you are ready to begin.

1. Give each of three groups of students one piece of the story. Tell them if it is the beginning, middle, or end, or if you can just let them figure that out.
Option One: 2. Have the students complete the story. Ask them to share their stories and compare.
Option Two: 3. Ask students to elaborate their part of the story. Then pick one student from each group and have them put the three parts together. The results may be surprising to all three groups of writers.

The XFR exhibit features a Reading Wall that tells the story of 10,000 years of reading history. Timelines are an excellent way to showcase understanding of complex concepts. The process increases student knowledge of how changes occur over time. With inspiration from the timeline in the exhibit, students can develop timelines that contain more than words along a line. Consider adding some of the following elements to an enriched timeline:

Visuals - photographs, diagrams, images

Icons - create symbols that can communicate meaning without words

Artifacts - objects that make the subject more tangible

Audio - tape explanations that go along the timeline and deepen the presentation

Dramatizations - students could act out events along their timeline, creating a living tableau of the development or history

Timelines are commonly used to track historical events, but this strategy can also be used to explain science and technology. Examples of rich topics include:

Medicine - surgery, antibiotics, joint replacement, epidemics

Earth science - the evolution of land structures in a selected area, earthquakes

Space - development of how our solar system has been perceived

Communications - the story of the telephone, the Internet

Technology - select any current technology and trace its development