Looking back on my years teaching, I notice it didn't always matter what we were writing about, but what we were writing on. Even as an adult, if someone were to hand me poster board and a pack of markers, I would instantly want to start writing or drawing (partially attributed to the distinct obsession teachers have with office supplies). Below, I've listed a few of the activities I recall with unconventional mediums. These activities seemed to especially engage students and kickstart creativity!
I used a class set of these dry erase sentence strips for four years, until I moved to a new school. These boards were in the top three most used tools in my classroom.
Students are exposed to so many more words when they copy from a fully written word, rather than have an adult parrot each letter, one by one, to help them spell. Similarly, students learn SO much more about forming letters when copying a word, than connecting dots to trace letters on worksheets! The dry erase strips were perfect for helping students physically write the words they dictated and, if you can't tell already, I highly recommend buying a set:)
How is this even a blog post? It’s not at all a unique thought! Picture books beg writing responses. Why draw kids in with the best story without inviting them to create like the authors and illustrators of the story? You don’t even have to work hard to “hook” students. Just read the book!
I’ll start with a few books that specifically prompted writing, in my Pre-K classroom, but there are a million more, and I will make other posts when I find other activities, pretty much every time I read. Ha!
Baby is waking up from nap, so that’s all I have time to share for now, but I will post more ideas soon!
I am currently out of the classroom, as I move around with my husband (in the Navy) and raise my ten-month-old cutie. As I reflect on some of the coolest writing activities of my former pre-k, kinder, and first grade classrooms, many of them had one thing in common...food!
Engaging senses is great start for writing, and learning in general! I once attended a conference where the instructor asked everyone to introduce themselves and give their favorite scent. Everyone in the room instantly smiled. Rather than hear each other list grade levels, school districts, and number of years taught, I heard about favorite flowers and grandmothers who made the best apple pie.
I wish I had time to dive deep into the research behind motivation and project-based learning, but I will have to save that for another post! All I can say is that food is an incredibly engaging, motivating subject. I wanted to give a quick list of some food-related writing activities:
1) This kind of writing will make kids...hungry! Make sure activities like this are done around lunch or snack time, for your own sanity!
2) This one is serious. I once had a student who was born in a stark situation, and remembered the trauma of not having food available when hungry. As a result, she suffered from something I had never heard of before her mother mentioned it to me: food anxiety. While she LOVED writing about food, and her independent journal was filled with stories about cupcakes and candy, I had to be very careful about offering food in the classroom. For instance, if students were told they could earn a snack prize, but only if ___ happened, and ____ didn't happen...this little girl would be completely thrown and go home in tears. If you notice a child is uneasy about the topic of food, make sure to address the concern properly.
With the cautions in mind, I hope this post helps you engage the sense of taste in your writing instruction! I will add more ideas as they come:)
I was a Junior at the University of Central Oklahoma when Dr. Higa unknowingly made a comment I would never forget:
My name is Laken Slate. I was an elementary school teacher for six years, before becoming a mom. I am set to graduate with a master's in Curriculum and Instruction in July 2021! Someday, I would love to be a picture book author. I am represented by the world's greatest literary agent, Joyce Sweeney :)