5 Fun and Creative Literary Analysis Activities for Middle and High School ELA

Teaching literary analysis to middle and high school students can be a challenging task. Afterall, it involves so much more than simply teaching comprehension. True literary analysis involves uncovering the how and the why of a work.

Teaching literary analysis in the middle school ELA or high school English class doesn't have to be tedious and boring. By providing students with engaging activities that allow them to explore the complexities and nuances of literature while allowing them creative freedom can help students not only understand the text on a new level but it can also make the process more enjoyable for both teachers and students alike.

Here is a list of five fun literary analysis activities that you can incorporate into your classroom to enrich your students’ learning experience, develop critical thinking skills, and develop a deeper understanding of literature. Plus, I've added in the daily learning objectives for you for each of these creative literary analysis activities to help save you some time!

1. Character Instagram Profiles

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will demonstrate my understanding of literary analysis, character analysis, and inference skills by developing a character social media profile.

Engage your students’ creative sides by having them create Instagram profiles for various characters in a novel or story they are reading. They can create the profile for each character by setting up the character’s bio and profile image, including posts, stories, and comments from the perspective of the characters. To add more rigor and a deeper understanding of the text, ask students to include specific posts that include textual evidence about the setting, conflict, and mood of the story.

You can help students begin this activity by providing your students with character descriptions and encouraging them to think about how the characters would use social media. This activity not only fosters character empathy and allows students to analyze character traits, motivations, and development, but it also requires students to practice their inference skills.

If you are looking for literary analysis activities that are quick and easy, check out these activities for any novel. This resource includes a premade Instagram profile handout!

2. Literary Podcasts

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will demonstrate my ability to analyze literature by creating a podcast that shows my communication skills and understanding of the text.

A fun way to challenge students to task them with creating a podcast episode that discusses the themes, characters, and symbolism in the text. This is a perfect activity for students to work on collaboratively, and they can even complete the assignment with their Chromebooks! To add more structure to this assignment, have students complete the podcast episode with an interview format where a host or two co-hosts invite guests onto their show to discuss the text.

You can help your students by sharing examples of podcasts with them during class. Having students work collaboratively to create a podcast episode is a great literary analysis activity to help students explore literary concepts and themes, look at literature in a new way, and express their insights verbally and creatively.

3. Literary Analysis Mini Flip Book

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will show my understanding of the text by analyzing the story on multiple levels and including textual evidence and commentary on various literary elements.

My literary analysis mini flip book is perfect for students to practice and demonstrate their literary analysis skills during or after a short story or novel unit. This mini flip book includes eight tabs: about the reading, character, setting, conflict, symbols, plot, theme, and summary. Each tab requires students to go deeper and provide in-depth analysis accompanying textual evidence!

You can help your students begin to understand literary analysis by employing the gradual release of responsibility model with this activity. Since there are eight tabs, you can provide the students with a class example of evidence and analysis for the character tab, then have students work in pairs for another tab, and then release students to complete the remaining tabs independently.

4. Literary TED Talks

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will enhance my public speaking skills, promote in-depth analysis, and communicate my thoughts effectively by preparing for and delivering a TED Talk.

Another great way to encourage students to dive deeper into the literature is to have them prepare and present TED-style talks on various aspects of the text. For this assignment, have each student prepare and deliver a 2-3 minute presentation where they deliver their analysis to the class. Before students deliver their talks, show them a TED Talk in class so they can see how the speakers present themselves and deliver the information. Encourage students to practice beforehand, and rather than having a script they read verbatim, only have a few talking points they wish to cover so that the talk is more engaging and authentic.

In their TED-style talks, students can share their insights and analysis with the class. To help students get started, assign topics, provide guidelines for creating engaging presentations, and allow students to use multimedia resources. For example, several students can present the symbols in the novel, others on the conflict, and others on the theme. To add even more rigor, students can share their analysis through critical reading lenses such as a historical reading lens and a feminist reading lens.

5. Literary Analysis with Sticky Notes

Daily Learning Objective: Today, I will show my understanding of the text by analyzing the story using textual evidence, analysis, and illustrations.

There’s a reason why I always keep coming back to these sticky note literary analysis activities: they work! Once I started teaching literary analysis with sticky notes, I saw my students’s understanding of the text and ability to analyze it improve drastically! What makes this method so effective is the dual approach of the student using both textual evidence and student illustrations to show their understanding of the text. The added layer that the sticky notes add to the organizers brings more complexity to the assignment because students also illustrate their analysis.

Watch as your students enjoy using sticky notes in class as they analyze the author's use of various literary devices in complex short stories and novels. This resource includes organizers for various literary elements, including symbolism, conflict, setting, characterization, plot, tone, and more!

One of the best ways to help students learn to analyze literature is by including various activities and assignments throughout the school year. These five activities provide innovative ways to engage middle and high school students in the process of analyzing literature while also providing them with an opportunity to practice social skills and explore their creativity. By incorporating creativity, collaboration, and interactive experiences, you can inspire a love for reading and critical thinking that will stay with your students for years to come.

More engaging literary analysis activities:
Back to Top