FB (Favorite Books, the book discussion group at our co-op) just finished The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau. I had no idea what good timing it would work out to be--the movie opened yesterday!
The group was set up to have activities the first week of two spent on a book, and discussion the second, but I've found that it works better to mix the two up. And since Monday is Columbus Day, the co-op isn't meeting, and I've decided that Dave at Night (by Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted), our next book, can be squeezed into one week.
During our first week spent on Ember, we discussed where everyone was in the book (only one child, mine, hadn't yet started it), read the introduction aloud, and talked about what we knew about Ember from these few pages, and what we didn't know. Then we read aloud a bit in the first chapter where Lina (pronounced LY-na, according to the author, which the movie disregards) and Doon are given their job placements. The kids picked mock assignments from a green felt bag I whipped together Sunday night and read aloud from job description sheets I made. We talked about how it would feel to be assigned to a profession for at least three years and to have very little choice in the matter. The kids responded with ways they would get out of jobs they didn't like.
Then most of the children participated in making a book of Crawling and Flying Things, which I will color-copy and give to each child to make into a book of their own. The plan was to bring my computer the second week to input descriptions of the bugs they created (from cutting and pasting ETC clipart insects), but we didn't end up with enough time the second week to do so, so I will let each child fill in the descriptions for each bug by hand on their own.
For the remainder of the first week's time, the kids decoded a "secret message" (a la the Instructions for Egress) I created by writing a note to them, and then leaving out 1-3 letters in each word. To make it easier, I put a list of the letters the would need at the top of the page (A A A A C D D E E, etc.). This was the biggest success of the day.
When I figure out how to post my pdfs for each activity, I'll put a link here. In the meantime, here are some links I found helpful for week one:
Teachers@Random--The City of Ember
Literature to the Rescue by Lynne Farrell Stover (a pdf)
BookClubs.ca--The City of Ember
Part 2, coming soon!