The Raft is a beautiful story of a boy's summer with his grandmother…on a river…on a raft.  

The story opens with Nicky and his father leaving the city with Nicky complaining about having to spend the summer with his grandmother, who “doesn't even have a TV”.

This is such a rich story!  My main purpose in reading it to my students this time of year is to help them connect with Nicky and be inspired to make choices for their summer that will get them outside – away from technology.

How to Use it in Your Classroom



Before opening the book, invite your students to enjoy looking at the cover and making observations.

This is the perfect time to encourage children to make predictions about what will and may happen in the story.

I have a FREE book companion (DOWNLOAD LINK BELOW) that contains a graphic organizer to record student observations. This works well as a group activity as well as an individual activity.

A prediction
is a smart guess about what might happen after looking at clues.

Ask leading questions:

  • What do you predict the story will be about?
  • What clues on the cover make you think that?
  • Why do you think the author titled it ‘The Raft'?


Next, access your students' prior knowledge – schema.
Prior Knowledge (schema)
is what we already know about a topic.
Some questions to ask:
  • What do you know about rafts?
  • You might want to use the ‘Predictions & Schema' page from the (free) book companion.



While reading the story, pause and ask your students how they are like Nicky, and how are they different from Nicky.

This ‘Compare and Contrast' Venn diagram makes a convenient place for your students to record their thoughts.

There is also room for them to further explore and write about the connections with Nicky they are making.


As the story continues, Nicky begins to change.

Encourage discussion with your students about what changes they notice in him as the summer progresses.  

I have included a T-chart for you to record your students' observations.  This chart will be used later when the students form opinions on why they think Nicky changed through the summer.

Beginning of Summer:

  • Nicky doesn't want to spend the summer with his grandma.
  • He wants to watch TV all summer.
  • He is upset about doing chores.

End of Summer:

  • He enjoys being with his grandma.
  • Enjoys nature and the outdoors.
  • He learns to draw.
  • He becomes a ‘river rat'.
  • He is sad to leave.


Students love to make and share their opinions, don't they?  Well then, so do I. 🙂  

Pose the question: “Why do you think Nicky changed?”  

As students give reasons, ask them to support those reasons with evidence from the text.

WRITING: Opinion

Students use the T-Chart to review how the summer with his grandma changed Nicky.

Next, the students are ready to write their rough draft. Students choose three reasons and support each with an example from the book

Students use the included paper to publish their opinion paragraphs.

This Opinion Writing activity is part of my June Monthly Paragraph Writing Resource.  It is packed with helpful resources to meet your June writing needs.

Just click on the picture to see the complete packet.

Reflections & Goals

As a final activity (and the most important—in my opinion), the kids are going to make plans for their summers, reflecting on what they want to do ‘less' and what they would like to do ‘more'. I created this fun flap book so your students will have a place to record their goals.

I love to send my students off to their summers, hoping that they will apply what they learned from Nicky – unplug from technology and get outside and enjoy nature!


It's always fun for students to have a new math game to go with the seasons!

Check out these engaging summer-themed math activities!

These Sunshine Addition Bump games will help them practice the math facts.

Two games are included in the FREE download.

Click on the picture to see the complete set!

I hope you and your students will be inspired to unplug and enjoy the outdoors this summer!


My name is Peggy Means. I am a child of God and a retired elementary teacher. I loved teaching and creating engaging resources for my students. Now, I love sharing my resources and ideas with busy teachers around the world.

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