The beginning of the school year is a perfect time to have students participate in their first book tasting. This engaging activity gets students excited about reading and gives them the opportunity to experience books of various genres.
For these reasons, I started off this school year with our first book tasting, which we lovingly referred to as Book Bites, the "Beach Bash" edition.
To set up this low prep, book tasting classroom transformation, I laid 5 large beach mats around the classroom with a basket at the center of each one. I found these mats and baskets on clearance at Five Below. (A great and thriftier alternative to the mats would be to have a few students bring in beach towels and lay them around the room. Books can be piled in the middle of each towel or reusable grocery bags or beach bags can be used.) I also placed foldable Book Bites booklets on clipboards and laid four to five clipboards at each mat.
(Throughout this post, you may find some Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few cents my way if you purchase something through that link at no extra cost to you. Links are provided to help you quickly find products you may be interested in.)
Each basket was numbered and a genre mini poster was attached. The poster included the genre of the books in the basket and the definition of the genre.
To add to the ambiance, I wore a pair of sunglasses, a lifeguard shirt which I purchased on Amazon, and a whistle. Whenever I was going to have the students switch activities (ex. start reading, stop reading and annotate, share about their book, or move to another mat), I would blow the whistle to get their attention.
A beach scene found on YouTube was projected on the board and the beach sounds played from the speakers. (You can find the video I used by clicking on the picture below.)
Once everything was set up, it was book tasting time! As students walked in, I greeted them at the door and assigned a number to them. They walked in and sat on the mat with the basket that matched the number they were assigned. Once everyone was inside, I explained to the "beachgoers" that they would be participating in a book tasting activity where they would take a "bite" from a book to see if they liked it. They would be choosing a book and reading it for approximately 5 minutes.
After reading the book for five minutes, I would blow the whistle and they would have approximately 3 minutes to respond to what they read in their Book Bites booklet.
After the three minutes were up, students had the opportunity to share about the book they had a "bite" from. To start the conversation, I gave one person in each group a "speaker token." This person would be the first one to share about their book. When they were done speaking, they would pass the token to the person on the left. Now, it was that person's turn to share. Students were given an opportunity to ask a question about the book, but offering a "speaker token" helped keep the conversations moving and cut down on the noise level. The token kept moving to the left until everyone in the group had shared.
Once the speaker was done sharing, students were also given the opportunity to pick up their pencils and jot down the title of the book if they found it interesting, and might want to pick it up in the future.
After giving them about three minutes to share as a group, I would blow the whistle, and the students would go onto the next mat. Students at mat #1 would go to mat #2, those on mat #2 would go to mat #3, etc. Those students at mat #5 would go to mat #1. Once all of the students had made their way around the beach, students went back to their desks where a plate of popcorn was waiting for them. (What's a book tasting without some food, right?) As they ate their popcorn, we discussed the book tasting experience and what they learned from it. Students then glued their booklets into their reading journal for future reference.
I have to say, this experience was so easy to plan and set up, and the payoff was HUGE! If you've participated in a book tasting in the past, I'd love to hear about it! Please connect with me below, and leave a comment about the theme you implemented and about your experience.
If you'd like to participate in a book tasting, but would like the genre posters, numbers and booklets done for you, you can find the resource I created and used with my students by clicking on the image below.
Happy Book Tasting! I can't wait to hear about your book tasting experiences!