Writing is a huge component in my second and third grade classroom. Next to speaking properly, communicating through the written word is an important life skill that needs to be developed which will follow children throughout their lives. The sooner the basics of writing are introduced and honed, the easier this skill will become as they get older.
We write about everything: picture prompts, sentence prompts, letters mailed to friends and family, activities we’ve done, opinions on current events, holidays-if it can be written about, we do it. And all of this is great in the classroom. The kids understand five paragraph essays. They understand including an introduction with three points, one paragraph for each point and a conclusion.
But what about outside of the classroom? Isn’t this what we want for our students; the ability to use the skills we teach as daily application outside of school?
So to encourage this, I have started a new take-home activity: The “One day…” bag.
I send several things home with different students on a weekly basis. We have skill bags. We have baggy books. We have Gilligan, our wide-mouthed alligator friend who helps review anything and everything we’ve done in class. But the “One day…” bag is a bit different.
If you are a teacher like me, you keep everything. I have a variety of bits and pieces from games and toys that I just can’t seem to throw away so I stash these items into what has become a very large Rubbermaid container. I use these items in many different ways, but most recently for my “One day…” bag.
I choose ten random items each week and toss them into a string bag with these directions: “Use these items, one by one, and develop a story, just for fun! Remember the writing rules we’ve learned from class.
You’re so creative! Have a blast! First a rough draft then a final copy; penmanship is important so don’t be sloppy! Have your grown up read it through and do the best that you can do!” Both the rough draft and final copy must be turned in. I send the bag home on Fridays, with appropriate writing paper, and when it comes back completed on Monday the student gets to show the items and read their story to the class. The kids love this activity!
Every week the items are different, with the exception of all the stories starting with “One day…” so each student gets to be creative in their own way. I don’t require a certain length on these stories. I have found that with creative writing most kids will run with it once they get started.
This is also a great way to get parents involved and for them to see the process of what we do in class when we write. The kids also love showing off their skills to their grown ups, plus telling their story in front of the class not only helps with public speaking skills, but I’ve found it also shows how important proper penmanship is. I love activities that hit a multitude of skills!
How do you encourage writing in your class?