One of the best activities I have done during my Literacy lessons was based around the book "Perry Angel's Suitcase" by Glenda Millard. This is the third story in a series by Millard about the Silk family, and tells of a young boy, Perry, who is a foster child and comes to live with the Silk family.
The main theme in the book is about belonging and finding one's place in the world, but there are many other themes within the book that teachers can explore and focus on with your students.
The main activity I did with my students was to create 'Perry' (I did this by drawing, painting and lamenting a picture of a boy) so that he could become a part of our class, and that each day a different student was to 'foster' Perry and take him home with them and share their family's activities and lifestyle. The students had to write in Perry's diary and share what they did with Perry while he was staying with them. They were also allowed to take photos and stick these into the diary as a visual representation of what they did. (Perry also was with them throughout the day at school, and participated in many classroom activities). I don't think my students had written so much!!! I was really surprised and happy with how they embraced the task, and made Perry feel part of their family. Perry went horse riding, took tennis lessons & music lessons, attended a birthday sleep-over party and even went out on a boat!! The students really loved sharing their diary entries, and were so excited when it was their turn to take Perry home. I made a letter for students' to take home to parents about the task, so they knew what to expect when they fostered Perry for a night (or sometimes a weekend).
A lovely part in the story is when the Silk's share one of their family traditions, which is the ceremony of Cake and Thankfulness. To explore this, we looked at the different traditions our own family's had, and the traditions of our school and society. As a ' reward' for doing such great work in fostering Perry, we had a morning of Cake and Thankfulness. I made enough cupcakes for each student and made some icing in different colours. I then set the classroom up so that each student could decorate their cake as they desired. We then went outside, sat in a circle, and went around and said three things that we were thankful for. Then we ate the cake!! It was a lovely activity, and got the students thinking about how fortunate they were.
If you would like to know more about the book, check out the synopsis http://www.harpercollins.com/harperimages/ommoverride/Perry_Angel_teacher_notes.pdf
This idea came from another book, Flat Stanley, written by Jeff Brown & associated activities.