Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg is a popular children's book that was made into a movie, which many children have seen. This is a great choice for your elementary class. Here you'll find a brief summary of the book plot and some activities to go with it.
Judy and Peter are bored until they find a board game in the park. They take it home and start to play; and their day turns out to be pretty exciting after all. It seems that whatever happens in the game comes to life. The instructions say that they have to keep playing until someone wins the game. Soon their house is practically transformed into a jungle!
For example, when they land on a spot that says, "Lion attacks; move back two spaces," an actual lion appears in the room! The game also includes an erupting volcano and several destructive monkeys. Children will want to race to the end of the book to see if Peter and Judy finish the board game Jumanji, and their house turns back to normal.
Create Board Games
One of the best Jumanji activities is to divide children into small groups and ask them to create their own board game. They can base it on a jungle theme, such as the one in the book; or they can choose another theme like the desert or forest.
Students can use cardboard to draw the actual board game. Then, they draw spaces, write instructions, and create a card pile. Groups can exchange games to play.
Write Journal Entries
Besides writing a Jumanji summary, children can also answer several journal writing prompts to work on different comprehension skills. They can write about what they would have done if they were Judy and Peter and the game came to life in their houses.
Children can also write about a time that something happened to them, and they didn't know what to do to fix the problem. Another journal prompt would be to discuss whether or not Judy and Peter should tell their parents about the game.
Discuss Personal Connections
Whenever students can make personal connections with literature (or book-to-book or book-to-world connections), they are increasing their comprehension of literature. After reading the Jumanji summary, it may seem difficult for students to connect personally to the story, but they can connect to the emotions of the characters or the out-of-control situation.
You can do this activity in one of two ways: students can write or draw about these personal connections first and then discuss them with classmates. You can also divide students into small groups or pairs, and ask them to discuss their ideas and then write and illustrate their discussion.
Compare Book and Movie
Picture book movies are often completely different than the book because there's not much text to fill a 90-minute movie. After children read Jumanji, show them the movie.
Ask students to create a Venn digram displaying the similarities and differences between the movie and the book. If you are working with younger children, complete a Venn diagram as a shared writing activity.
Remember: when doing literature activities, keep in mind your objectives and use these to assess children's progress.