Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing, writing, and more writing!

I spent most of the weekend creating choice activities for Work on Writing.  Writing is something that I really want to focus on this year, and I felt like the Work on Writing activities I did last year didn't give the kids enough choice time.  Most of our writing was assigned and the kids didn't have enough freedom to choose writing activities they enjoyed.  This year I will probably still have one assigned writing activity each week, but the rest will be student choice activities.  Thanks to blog stalking, my Pinterest addiction, and 2 nights of insomnia I have come up with what I think will be some great additions to our writing!  I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her Made it Monday!

I seems every year we do lots of narrative and descriptive writing, but not nearly enough informative writing.  To help with that I created the How to hot tub.  There are 30 how-to writing prompts in this cute little basket I picked up at Dollar Tree!

I would love to share the cards, but the boarders are not mine.  You can pick them up free from Mrs. Fultz's Corner.  Below is a list of the How To's I came up with:
Explain how to make smores.
How do you blow a hug bubble using bubble gum?
Explain how to play your favorite electronic game.
How do you make your favorite after school snack?
Explain how to make a root beer float.
How do you complete your morning routine?
Explain how to write a friendly letter.
How do you choose a good fit book?
Explain how to make a turkey sandwich.
How do you make lemonade?
Explain how to make an ice cream sundae.
Explain to a new student how to get a hot lunch in the cafeteria.
Explain to a stranger how to get to our classroom.
How do you take care of a plant or garden?
Explain how ot make a milkshake.
How do you check out a book in the school library?
Explain how to locate a specific word  in the dictionary.
How do you give a dog a bath?
Explain how to build a snowman.
How do you take care of a pet?
Explain how to carve a pumpkin.
How do you wrap a present?
Explain how to be a good friend.
How do you ride a bike?
Explain how to make a new student feel welcome.
How do you brush your teeth?
Explain how to play your favorite sport.
How do you play your favorite board game?
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Explain how to complete your bedtime routine.

Last week I made a little Pick and Persuade jar.  It was full of 100 persuasive prompts. You can check out the post for that here.

The next two ideas came from Tara's blog.  The first one is her Story Stones.  I used stickers and Modpodge on mine instead of creating pictures with scrapbooking paper.  I absolutely love the way they turned our and I can't wait to introduce them to my students! The stones and basket came from Dollar Tree....of course!  The stickers are from Hobby Lobby and were 50% off!!!

Last I took her Book Cover Inspiration idea and created 19 folders with book covers that the kids can create stories for.  I really think they are going to LOVE this one!! Her's a few of my favorites.....had to use Charlie the Ranch Dog since I've got my own little Charlie the Bassett Hound!! This didn't cost a penny.  I had the book covers and I used my own kids old folders from previous school years.  They don't all match, but it was free and I recycled.....what's not to love about that!!

That's it!  I am so excited about getting all of these things into my classroom and introducing them to my new students.  I have a few big writing assignments that we do each year that I just adore, but these new activities will make nice additions to writing practice on a smaller scale.  Since I love getting new ideas from all the blogs I follow, I'll share with you my top 3 favorite writing assignments.

At the beginning of the year we study our names. We start by reading the story Chrysanthemum and use a brainstorming activity to write down all we know about our name and where it came from.  Then the students interview their parents about their name and it's origins.  (I'm in the process of reworking the interview and brainstorming sheet.....if you would like I copy let me know and I can do a post on it later). We use baby books and an internet site I found to identify the meaning of our names, and then we write a paper about what we learned about our names. Last we brainstorm adjectives that describe us and use Tagxedo to create word clouds using our name and the adjectives we came up with.  This is one of my favorite writing assignments all year.  It wasn't my creation....nope, when I was lucky enough to join this 4th grade team, this was something they were already doing.  In the past we created Acrostic Poems using our names, but I decided to incorporate technology and add the Tagxedo activity.

The next one we do in February during Adopt a Pet month.  I don't know who loves this students or me!!!  I print pictures of cats and dogs that are currently up for adoption at our local animal shelter.  The kids get to choose if they want a cat or dog to write about and then I just hand out the pictures (I learned that letting them choose the picture is just WAY too time consuming!).  Their assignment is to pretend they are the animal in the picture and persuade me to adopt them.  We talk about what the good characteristics of a pet are and what we should highlight about the pet to make someone interested in adopting them (ex. Is it a pet for an elderly person, an active person, a person with children, etc.).  I haven't had a student yet who wasn't eager to get started no this one.  We hang them on a bulletin board with a pink background and black boarder .  We decorate it with hearts cut from red construction paper and newspaper.  The title reads "How Much is That Doggy in the Window?"

Last is an idea I got from Mailbox Magazine years ago and it's called "Pickle in a Pickle".  The assignment is to write from the perspective of a pickle who was left in a lunch box at school.  The pickle is trapped in the building and is describing its location with enough detail that someone could find it.  The students write their descriptive paragraphs and then we exchange to see if we can figure out where their pickle is.   This one is hilarious!!  Before we write we get on the floor and try to get the perspective of a pickle (he's low to the ground you know), we walk from the cafeteria to the classroom taking notes of things we notice and can use in our description, and we even illustrate what our pickle looks like.  I've seen cowboy pickles, pirate pickles, hippie name it....I've seen it.  I just love this activity!!

What fun writing activities do you do with your students????


  1. WOW, what great ideas! I think you are going to have some very motivated young writers this year.

    I absoutely love the idea of using a word cloud generator with the book Chrysanthmum!

  2. Thanks Nikki! I'm super excited about writing this year.....hoping to make it more enjoyable for all of us!!


  3. Your kids are going to love writing! Thanks for sharing such great projects!

    Success in Second Grade
    Don’t forget to check out My Summer in Pictures Linky Party

    1. Thanks glad people like them and can use them!! Heading over to your linky party in just a bit!!

  4. I must make each of these! So many creative ways to get your kids writing! Love it!


    1. So glad you enjoyed them and hope you can use them!

  5. Replies
    1. Jen, so glad you like them and thanks a bazillion for posting about it on your blog!!!

  6. You have so many wonderful writing ideas!!!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Sarah, I'm thrilled with all the positive response and hope they come in handy for others!

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks a bunch and hope you can use some of them!!

  8. I love all of your writing ideas. My to do list just got longer! I have had my eyes on the story stones for a while now!! I am your newest follower. I would love for you to check out my blog!!

    1. So gladl to have you as a new member! I can't wait to take a peek at you blog!

  9. I love all your great ideas. Would love to hear more about your name activities in the beginning of the year. I start next week with kiddos. I love to have new tricks up my sleeve every year!

    1. Owlyn,
      We are working on those name activities this week. I'm planning to have a post about what we've done later in the week....keep your eyes open for it!!

      Good luck on a great start to your school year!


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