As a first grade teacher the reading comprehension strategy I always hit the hardest was making connections. If the kids could relate to the book personally they would invest more time and energy into their book and comprehension would increase. The problem was that often their connections would not be the type to help their reading and instead would be superficial - "Henry has a dog and so do I" or "Junie B. doesn't like tuna fish and I don't either." I struggled with that all year long.
So now when we go over connections, I really focus on the idea that your connection should help you understand the book more. It should give you insight on how the character feels or what's happening. If your connection doesn't make you think more deeply about your book, it probably isn't a meaningful one.
I am using one videoclip for the lesson. This clip is from Toy Story 2 and is the song Sarah McLachlan sings while Jessie explains her background to Woody. It is a sad song but I chose it for several reasons: most kids have probably seen Toy Story 2 and will be likely to connect to it somehow; all kids have some sort of favorite or special toy; and most third graders are on the verge of growing up and getting rid of their toys. I think the opportunity for meaningful and not-so-meaningful connections is there.
I am going to play the video and then give the kids a few minutes just to jot 3 or 4 think notes with their connections on there. From that point we will talk about meaningful and not-meaningful (call them "distractors") connections and sort our own think notes. I'll post a picture of mine shortly.
If you're not the sad video type, here's the theme song from Toy Story. Again, it's one that kids can likely make a variety of connections to - both meaningful and distracting - and it's fun. :)