KEVA® Literature Links for Older Children

Children will enjoy using their imaginations and KEVA planks to bring a book alive in your classroom. You can adapt this activity to fit any of your favorite books, or use some of the suggestions below.


Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfield

Synopsis: A detective story set in ancient Rome with seven school boys playing the parts of the detectives. This is a fun and suspenseful story that gives readers the feel of life in ancient Rome.

KEVA Connection: Students can build a Roman temple or the Roman Coliseum. The class could build the Roman Forum together with its temples and official buildings. Much of the story takes place criss-crossing the Forum.

Language Extension: As the class reads the book, have students keep a journal of who they think is the culprit and why. Students will be surprised as they follow red herrings throughout the book.

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

Synopsis: Set in England during the Middle Ages, this book follows the struggles and triumphs of a young boy, Robin, who must overcome many hardships. Robin faces paralysis after exposure to the plague, the dangers of travel among outlaws and a siege upon his castle.

KEVA Connection: The class can build Robin’s castle with its inner and outer wall. Chessman or upright KEVA planks can be used to represent the attacking army besieging the castle. The class can reenact Robin’s heroic part in the rescue of the castle.                                                                                                           

Language Extension: Students can write a ballad telling of Robin’s heoric deeds, or they may create their own tales of other gallant knights. The bard in the story would have entertained the Lords and Ladies with such tales of bravery.

The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key

Synopsis: This is a sci-fi book with a glimpse into an alien culture, lightyears ahead of Earth’s. While reading it, the children must also solve the mystery of the origin of the young boy, Jon. All the while, the story portrays ordinary heroes and villains who must deal with an alien in their world.

KEVA Connection: Students can build Jon’s family’s spaceship. Have a contest for the best spaceship design.

Language Extension: Have the students write the newspaper article that will appear in the papers after the disappearance of Jon and the Bean family.


James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Synopsis: A fanciful story of a young boy named James who escapes his dreary life aboard a giant, magical peach. James’ companions on his voyage are a delightful troop of giant insects.

KEVA Connection: Have the class build James’ Giant Peach. Students can draw pictures of the insects to add to the peach.

Language Extension: Have the students make a photo album with written descriptions for James and his insect friends. Some of the insects in the story have written poems about themselves. Challenge students to write short poems for their albums.


Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Synopsis: The story of a young girl, Laura, and her sister and parents living in the backwoods of Wisconsin. This heartwarming story of family love captures the way of life during the pioneer days in America.

KEVA Connection: Have students build Laura’s log cabin set in the woods.

Language Extension: Students can write a diary account from the point of view of Laura or Pa. Have students choose their favorite events to write about.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Synopsis: A young boy, Elmer Elevator, runs away from home to rescue a baby dragon. Along the way, Elmer must use his wits to subdue the wild beasts on Wild Island.

KEVA Connection: Have the students build Wild Island. Using KEVA flat building techniques, students can reproduce the map of Wild Island. Students can use the map and drawings of Elmer, the baboons, lions and dragons to re-tell the story.

Language Extension: Have students write further adventures of Elmer and his dragon friends. They can make up other imaginary lands for their adventures.


Redwall by Brian Jacques

Synopsis: This is an epic tale of a reluctant hero, Matthias the mouse, who lives in the Redwall Abbey. The sotry is set in a medieval world inhabited by animals that are very human in their capacity for both heroism and villainy.

KEVA Connection: Have the students build Redwall Abbey.

Language Extension: Have students write a ballad about the brave deeds of Matthias. Ballads may be traditional and rhyme, or may be written in free verse.


Stuart Little by E.B. White

Synopsis: The story of an extraordinary mouse named Stuart, who was born into a human family. Stuart has wonderful adventures as a mouse living in the giant world of humans. Stuart’s confidence and know-how allow him to triumph over every mishap.

KEVA Connection: Have students build Stuart’s sailing boat The Wasp. Students could also build a maze for Stuart to find his way out of.

Language Extension: This novel ends with a great deal of ambiguity. Have students write additional chapters for the book.


21 Balloons by William Pene du Bois

Synopsis: 21 Balloons is an imaginative tale that captures the spirit of invention and exploration of the 1900’s. An amateur balloonist is blown off-course and lands on a remote island inhabited by billionaires. The islanders have used their wealth to create an inventor’s paradise.

KEVA Connection: Have the students build several of the international houses. Have the class research architecture styles from different countries to replicate the island structures.

Language Extension: Students can write a brief report about the country they have chosen. Students can pick a favorite food from their country and share it with the class in an international feast.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Synopsis: A young girl, Meg, her friend, Calvin, and her brother, Charles Wallace, travel across galaxies and fight evil alien forces to save Meg’s father. This science fiction book is a coming-of-age tale where Meg finally realizes that she possesses the strength to combat the evil force that has held her father in bondage.

KEVA Connection: Have students build the ordered world of the city on the Red Planet. Discuss pattern and symmetrical design.

Language Extension: Meg’s story is the story of a young girl beginning to take on the responsibility of the adult world. Have students write about what they plan to do as adults. They can write about career goals, education plans, dreams and aspirations, as well as any fears they might have.



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