Ruby Reads Books

Read-Aloud Poster Spotlight: The Secret Garden

Read-Aloud Poster Spotlight: The Secret Garden

Perhaps you remember reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as a child. If so, you may be among the many parents who have requested a Read-Aloud Poster to use when reading the book with their own children. If not, now’s the time to enjoy this classic novel with your own family!

The Secret Garden is the story of Mary Lennox, an unhappy little girl who comes to live at Misselthwaite Manor. There, she discovers a secret garden that has been locked up for ten years. As she works to bring the garden to life, she makes two new friends who help her transform the garden and herself. 

Like all our Read-Aloud Posters, our poster for The Secret Garden balances novel and familiar activities within the unique context of this particular book. We’ll look at the novel activities first (those that will likely be new to even seasoned Read-Aloud Poster users) and then look at the familiar activities (we’ve used some variation of the activity of previous posters). After all - if this is your very first poster, it’s all new to you!


In the Garden Concept Map


Making a concept map is a powerful way to activate prior knowledge about a subject; adding on to it as you read forms powerful connections between new vocabulary and ideas and what you already knew. 


We’ve gotten your concept map started with four broad categories (Tools, Things to Do, Plants, and Animals), and provided some stickers that will help you break these into sub-categories. After that, you’re on your own! You’ll have fun thinking of things you already know that connect to each category, and you’ll also hear things in the story that you can connect. You can connect words, phrases, or even pictures!


While making a concept map may be new to you, we think you’ll find it so much fun, you’ll find other ways to use them. We’ve made a word web for different ways of walking, a map of knowledge about a country before and during country study…the possibilities are endless!



Flower Naming

Whenever we ask poster users what they LOVE about our Read-Aloud Posters, “coloring” is one answer that invariably comes up. Naturally, we couldn’t resist celebrating the beauty of the garden with some lush flower coloring on this poster. 


Beyond the joy of coloring, this is also a great opportunity to learn about some garden flowers. Maybe you’re already a gardening pro and know what all these flowers are named; you’ll have no trouble helping your readers label the flowers as they’re named in the book. 


Less garden savvy? No problem! You can always check out a garden guide book, or use our Resource Page (coming soon!). Match flower features on the drawing with the description in the book itself or in a reference picture. Have fun learning some new flower names!


Hidden Objects & Animals

We love a good seek-and-find activity, and is there a better poster than The Secret Garden to hide a few key objects and animals from the text around the poster? Wait until you hear them mentioned in the story for some extra fun, and maybe you’ll want to add them to your concept map as well!



Now, on to some activities that might seem familiar if you’ve done other Read-Aloud Posters:

Chapter Tracker

My kids always love to know how many chapters there are in a book, how many chapters we’ve read each night, how many there are left to go. Enter, the chapter tracker! We’ve included on one nearly every one of our Read-Aloud Posters, and from what I hear, my kids aren’t the only ones who love to see their progress through a book grow. 


Character Portraits

Character portraits are a great way to help kids make a concrete representation of the pictures we’re always telling them to make in their minds. For The Secret Garden, the call attention to the changes that Mary and Colin are experiencing both in their physical bodies and their characters as the story progresses. 

Discussion Seeds

On every poster we provide a few discussion starters to help get you and your readers talking about the book. Feel the freedom to use some or all of our questions, or go in a completely different direction based on the interests of your group. Write answers directly on the poster, or use sticky notes and stack them on the question spot. It’s up to you!


Word Garden

It’s the simplest thing, but we love to have a dedicated spot to “capture” the words that capture our attention as we’re reading. Our hope is that you treasure a few really delightful words and make them part of your family lexicon. Words are wonderful!


Special tip for The Secret Garden: Because this book was written over 100 years ago, there are some words that may sound familiar to kids but currently mean something quite different than they did when the book was written. You might head off confusion and get this space started with a mini-glossary of terms like curious and queer that will come up multiple times in the book. Include this as part of a pre-reading introduction to the book, or wait until the first time you hear one of these words in the book (you won’t get far!).


Roll Call and Readers’ Ratings

We start and end all our Read-Aloud Posters with the Readers and Ratings activity. Start by having everyone sign their names, then close your read-aloud experience with ratings. Remember to ask WHY they gave the book the rating they did. Don’t skip this opportunity to learn about what your kids are enjoying (and not enjoying) about books right now (it can change pretty quickly!). This is great practice for your kids in giving detail to support their opinions, but it’s also important information for you as you try to recommend independent reading selections that they’ll enjoy. 


What activities are you most looking forward to? Is there a tried-and-true favorite at your house, or are do you anticipate the new activities on each poster? Let us know in the comments!

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