When beginning the year, writing is the who’s who of first grade. I mean really! Paper, supplies, and creativity! I love the freedom and versatility, but those same two attributes come to be the things that overwhelm me about teaching writing! After a certain amount of time passes, students can lose focus and motivation when our teaching remains the same day after day.
To tackle this issue, amp up the variety and novelty! Here are some first month writing ideas that I have found successful.
This one below is my mini-lesson on how writers get their ideas. First, we talk about how we each have different lives and experiences. Then I share about a card and what it means to me. I ask if anyone else thought of a different idea when they saw the same card that I saw. Continue to explore the idea of gathering ideas by picture cards for a couple days. Once the students seem ready, put the lesson at the writing center and allow the students to take ownership of the concept!
This process continues all year long! I don’t do these mini lessons every single day because as a writer I like to explore many different methods of writing just like an artist explores different mediums. When it comes to being creative and letting loose we need that sprinkle of novelty!
Because we are only in school one week in August and we are budding young little writers, keep it simple! We begin with an All About Me Flip Up Book.
This is a great way to lower the anxiety level, provide a truckload of scaffolding, and get to know students.
Later, when we explore small moments, we can take each page of this book and expand it to a writing piece leaving students with a 5 page book about themselves for their portfolios!
Another favorite beginning of the year lesson is on the book, Swimmy by Leo Leoni
After reading the book and celebrating all that we can within it’s pages, we first make a writing web about the character Swimmy. This story is also PERFECT for teaching about being there for others even when it gets hard.
Then we make sentences together on a chart tablet using the words on this interactive web. I didn’t snap a picture last year, but keep it simple and students share the pen with me as we write things such as Swimmy is a hero. Swimmy helps others.
Once we have finished all we can with Swimmy, we think about our own personal experiences with fish. We make this writing web of our own words about fish.
From there we do a directed draw of a fish together on large paper. Then, we sharpie our directed draw.
The next day, on each table I have one color of paint. 5 color tables. Students must go to a table and paint the main part of the fish the color they have chosen.
Painting Tip: Have students switch tables one time to fill in the fins with a second choice color. I have always kept it to 2 colors and had success with managing the crazy.
We stretch our words to write about our fish!
The next day when our fish are dry we go back over them with a sharpie
to define the fins and body again. (If you are particularly neurotic as I
can be from time to time, you can even back them with black
construction paper) “Ofishally first graders” “School of Fish” “insert your own bunny title here”
Another lesson is make sense of what we read and write. We can do this by breaking apart sentences into WHO, DID WHAT, WHERE.
We work our way back to a scaffolded mini-lesson teaching about
sentence structure which we can work on at the writing center after we
have mastered how it works!
Students can choose one complete sentence to write and illustrate, or build more than one with the pocket chart pieces.
Another go to item at the writing center is our story starters! These are new each month so they hold attention and inspire new ideas!
I’ll keep sharing more writing lessons as the weeks go by!
Although it can be overwhelming to know what to do with such a broad area like writing, it can also be the most rewarding! When students open up their thoughts and push hard to sound each word it is such a special marker of their development. I just loved those little moments with them!
To learn more about anything in this blog post, but click the pictures.