I'm a very firm believer in read-alouds and particularly reading to a class a few levels above their grade level. I think it's wonderful for vocabulary and comprehension (no pictures to rely on-they really have to listen and visualize). While we are reading a story the students write daily in a response journal, but I also like for them to do projects throughout the story that show an understanding of things like plot, main idea or character development.
Right now, we are reading James and the Giant Peach. This week the kids are making papier mache peaches and creating their favorite scene from the movie inside. I could picture this project in my mind, but was very hesitant because taking on papier mache is a daunting task. Not to mention I have 29 students for reading and a small, already cluttered room-where do you put them while they are drying twice-once with the newspaper and a 2nd time for the paint/tissue paper. They affixed newspaper strips soaked in a glue/water mixture around a balloon. When that was dry they painted the newspaper orange and since you could still see the writing, we added warm colors of tissue paper. When that was dry I took out the balloon (very fascinating to my rugrats)-it actually just comes right out! And they made their illustrations inside.
I just LOVE how they came out. Some of them did a really great job and you know the whole time they were working on them they talked about how much fun they were having-so you can't beat that! Here are some pics: