Brain Hive in the Classroom: Gateway Activities

Howdy, folks! Brain Hive Concierge here. Periodically, I will be posting ideas on the blog about the many ways that Brain Hive can be implemented successfully in the classroom. These blog posts will be grounded in my knowledge and experience with standards-based, best-practices aligned classroom instruction and lesson planning. Today, I’ll start out this series of blogs with some suggestions about using Brain Hive eBooks in your lesson planning as “gateway activities.”

Gateway activities, or “hooks” (or “anticipatory sets,” if we’re being fancy) are integral elements in lesson plans. Particularly when introducing brand new or particularly challenging content, it’s important to grab students’ attention and get them “in the zone” – primed and ready to think hard about the content you’ve prepared for them. Thus, gateway activities are short lesson- or unit-beginners which introduce students to some of the big ideas coming their way in high-interest, relatable formats. These gateway activities can take many forms, but one of my favorites, a reliable, tried-and-true method for providing a point of entry for students to start thinking about a new topic, involves introducing the content of the lesson or unit by sharing a picture book that deals (to one extent or another) with the subject matter to be covered in more depth and detail later.

Sharing picture books is an effective gateway activities for pretty much all students. Elementary-aged students are accustomed to the format, and will readily participate in the read-aloud routine. Older students – yes, EVEN super-cool high school students – will go along with the process. They might roll their eyes a little bit at the prospect of being read to, but the nostalgic experience of listening to and looking at a picture book being shared with them is probably a welcome one. After all, who doesn’t like being read to?

In your lesson planning, why not plan to share a Brain Hive eBook as a gateway activity to introduce your students to new content? Project the eBook on an interactive whiteboard to share with a large group, or gather a smaller group of students together to look at the pictures on a tablet as you read to them. Take a look at these suggestions for using Brain Hive eBooks in gateway activities in…

punctuation takes a vacationLayout 1

Red Bird Sings

…Elementary Language Arts…

Introduce your students to proper punctuation usage with Punctuation Takes a Vacation, Robin Pulver’s whimsical story about what happens when punctuation takes the day off. For a little added fun, share the audiobook version to hear narrator John Beach’s interpretation of what a question mark or a pair of quotation marks actually sounds like.

…or Elementary Math…

Introduce the often tricky task simplifying fractions with a read-aloud of Edward Einhorn’s Fractions in Disguise, the tale of a nefarious fraction thief whose deception and pilfering ways can only be exposed by the Reducer, the brilliant invention of George Cornelius Factor.

…or High School Social Studies!

Are you looking for a way to introduce your students to a unit about 19th century Native American history?  Introduce your classes to the history of assimilationist policies in the US with a class read of Red Bird Sings, Gina Capaldi’s and Q.L. Pearce’s adaptation of Red Bird’s (or Zitkala-Sa’s) story of her life in an Indian Boarding School in the late 1800s.

Of course, these are just some suggestions for how you could use Brain Hive eBooks in gateway activities. With over 9,000 titles available for $1 checkout ($2 for audiobooks), you’re sure to be able to find an interesting book that will help you get your students thinking about new content in interesting ways. Have you used Brain Hive eBooks in any super-cool, innovative ways in your classroom that you’d like to share with us? Great! I’d love to hear about all the awesome ways you’re using Brain Hive in your lesson planning and teaching. Shoot me an email at, and tell me all about it! In the meantime, as always, keep in touch, and happy reading!

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