Cereal Box Book Report: A Creative Writing Project & Activity for Gifted Students

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  • Cereal Box - empty and in good shape (no torn off tops or crushed sides)
  • Butcher Paper - assorted colors
  • Construction Paper or Scrapbooking Paper
  • Stickers
  • Glitter
  • Glue
  • Assorted scrapbooking decorations/stickers
  • Packing tape
  • Fishing Line

How to Make a Cereal Box Book Report

Step One:

Tape both ends with packing tape to seal down the flaps and to keep them from poking up after wrapping. Using butcher paper, wrap the cereal box much like you would a Christmas present, but being sure not to go too crazy on the tape. The boxes look best when wrapped in a neutral color like white, gray, or beige.

Step Two:

The front of the box will have the title of the book, author name, and a picture or object that symbolizes the story. Tell students to select an image or object that would most likely be a movie poster if this book were to be made in to a film. Encourage them to refrain from using an image similar to what is already on the cover of the book they are reporting. Creativity should play a huge part in the overall grading and you want them to come up with an image for the front of the box that is meaningful, but different from the novel’s cover. Students can draw their own image, use clip art they’ve printed from a computer, or use 3-D objects. For example, I had a student create cereal box for the short story, “A Rose for Emily” and hot glue a withered, dried rose to the front of the box and also added a Barbie-size hair brush with a few steel-Grey wig hairs weaved in the bristles. Not only should the image be striking, but the title and author’s name should be bold and visible on the front of the box.

Step Three:

On the back of the box, you can use this space to have students illustrate their knowledge of a lesson you have studied in conjunction with the novel, or if the book is fiction, you could require students to construct a plot pyramid, being sure to use examples from the novel for each step of the pyramid. Non-fiction books could create a time-line of the novel, or a “Facts & Figures” chart that displays the main facts from the book. Require two or three symbolic images that represent the book in some way.

Step Four:

Side one of the cereal box should list the “ingredients”, or characters in the novel. Each main character should also have a few sentences that describe their physical and personality traits. You can require a picture or object that symbolizes each character. The scrap-booking aisles of craft stores offer great stickers and trinkets that would be great for character symbols. Using the novel The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton as an example, students found a tiny jean jacket for Johnny and a miniature football helmet for Derry to glue next to their names and descriptions. It is unbelievable how many different stickers and trinkets you can find in the scrap-booking section! Also keep in mind that I encourage students to type up their descriptions and other textual items on the computer and print them using aesthetically pleasing font and color. Simply writing the information directly on to the butcher paper will appear sloppy and will not leave much room for error. Typing, printing, cutting and pasting on to the box is the student’s best bet and will look the best for the final product.

Step Five:

Side two of the cereal box needs to describe the setting of the story, and include a paragraph description. Side two should also note whether the story was written in first or third person or explain the author’s style of the work (stream of consciousness or prose writing, for example).

Step Six:

The top of the box should contain a theme statement that the student created to best fit the story. You can also require symbolic pictures to accompany the theme statement.

Step Seven:

The bottom of the box will contain two tone words that best describe the first half of the work and then two additional tone words that describe the second half of the work. Images and pictures that represent the tone words can also be required.

Report Presentation

Upon completing the cereal boxes, students should present them to the class; taking time to explain and describe each aspect of the box to the class. I like to display the completed boxes by puncturing the upper corner of the box with a large needle and weaving a length of fishing line through the top. I then suspend the boxes from my classroom ceiling to show off the student’s hard work. The hanging boxes are eye-catching and are also a great way to promote reading in your classroom. Students may venture to try a book they’d never dared to because the cereal box hanging from your ceiling piqued their interest!