Hello, teacher friends! One of my favourite books to use in the class is Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I LOVE Louis Sachar’s writing and the original Sideways Stories is just SO fun and so funny! I swear, I still love all these silly stories as a grown ass woman.
One of the main reasons I love Sideways Stories so much is that it’s so easy to bring into the classroom. Because it’s made up of a bunch of very short stories, you can easily read one or two while kids settle in, have snack, if you have a short break, and so on. Plus, I really feel like that, although the stories are intended for younger grades, even older kids think they’re silly and funny. I’ve read some of these to ninth graders, and they enjoyed them as well.
Depending on the grade and the outcomes you’re working on, there are lots of ways to use Sideways Stories from Wayside School in your classroom. Even if you’re teaching older kids, Wayside can be really fun and useful!
When I first introduce plot structure to my students, Wayside offers some very simple and short stoies to use as examples and have the kids plot the points themselves. Because the stories are so short, there’s ample opportunity to give kids lots of examples and the chance to practice without using up loads and loads of class time. Additionally, they’re fun and short enough to use as a refresher each year with older kids at the start of a unit.
Sometimes I love to have my students write a silly story. This can be especially fun for older students who basically don’t get to write stories anymore after elementary school. It’s a fun way to get them to use their creativity. I’ll use Wayside as examples of silly stories – particularly ones aimed at a younger audience. If you’re lucky enough to work at a school with multiple grades, you can have your older students read their silly stories to elementary kids. They really enjoy it and it’s a fun activity for buddies and bonding.
There’s some animated videos of the stories in Wayside that are up on YouTube. It’s always fun for students to read an then watch the video to do a compare and contrast activity. They like seeing the characters on screen and they’re always great at picking out differences between the two.
These are also great stories for basic comprehension and vocabulary skills. Using the Wayside stories are an easy way to check in with kids once a day, once a week, etc. in a super short lesson or activity in which you can assess how they’re progressing with comprehension and teach some new vocabulary. I personally have created Sideways Stories Comprehension Questions as well as Sideways Stories Vocabulary on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and there’s also a lot of other resources online or which you can create yourself. I usually read Sideways Stories while kids eat their snacks, then we’ll do a quick vocabulary and/or comprehension activity – it gives us a little extra bit of learning during time when kids would normally just be eating, and they enjoy it so I don’t feel as though I’m taking away any of their “fun time” during class.
My last fun idea is to have kids turn a story or two into a play. It’s a great activity to have them practice various forms of writing (creating a script), as well as working on acting/presentation skills. Plus, I like to combine this with art and have them create any costumes, props, or sets they need. They LOVE doing this and they get to be really creative. Plus, I get a few English Language Arts grades as well as Art!
I hope these ideas prove to be helpful for you. If you have other great ideas for teaching Sideways Stories, please share them! I love using new ideas in the classroom – and my students (usually) love being the guinea pigs who get to test them out!