1-2-3 Come Make A Keepsake With Me!
I’m Surviving In School is a quick, easy and fun way to get students to practice their writing skills.
Graphic organizers are extremely beneficial for visual learners and help students organize their thoughts and think succinctly. These mini-writing prompts are more do-able and less intimidating. Doing a page at the end of each month, is a terrific Daily 5 activity, or independent writing center. Alphabetize the booklets and number them, so students can quickly and easily find theirs to work on. These are a great addition to a portfolio or file, to share with parents, during conferences, as they should show marked improvements along the way. Completed books make an outstanding keepsake.
Encourage students to use proper capitalization, punctuation, spaces, adjectives etc. and you have covered a lot of Common Core State Standards as well. There’s a generic cover as well as covers for preschool through 6th grade. Define what an adjective is and why using describing words are important. Pass out markers and have students write adjectives that describe themselves, in each bubble box on their cover. Explain that they can add more words as the year progresses. To make this extra special, have students glue their school picture inside the bus. You may want to make a booklet yourself, to use as an example to help explain things each month. Students really enjoy learning about their teacher.
The pages are geared from easy to more difficult as students advance. Later, explain to them that instead of just a list, you want them to write sentences. You can also have them start with the header, so that they are working on a complete sentence with proper capitalization, instead of just answering the topic. i.e. Favorite food: My favorite food is pizza. Later, have them expand their thoughts even more, by explaining why and adding adjectives: i.e. My favorite junk food is pizza, because I like spicy pepperoni.
To get in more fine motor practice and add some pizzazz to the pages, have students use colored markers, pencils and crayons. In the Me... section, students practice writing their name and drawing a self-portrait. This is especially important for preschool and kindergarten students. In the beginning, younger kiddo’s can draw a picture of how they feel, with a happy or sad (etc.) face. They will be limited to 1-word answers in the boxes. You can also opt to have students do these 1-on-1 with a helper, who writes down their answers, or send a page home as homework to be returned in a week.
Click on the link to view/download the I'm Surviving School, monthly-writing prompt booklet. If you're looking for another fun keepsake book, that students can write in monthly, check out The Very Hungry Student. Children write what they learned each month. Of course they are still hungry for more, so they move on to the next month... The rhyming text makes it a fun read-aloud. There's a page in the back for students' autographs. It's also a nice way to review the names of the months and a super way to show progress/improvement to parents. Click on the link to view/download The Very Hungry Student.
I also have an entire year's worth of writing prompts. Each month's writing prompts are based on popular stuff that's going on during that time frame. Click on the link to view/download the Monthly Writing Prompts packet.
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"Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why!" -Bernard Baruch
1-2-3 Come Rave On With Me!
Are you looking for some quick and easy back to school things? I love doing activities that can be made into a student-generated bulletin board, which helps check one more thing off my long "to do" list. If you need help with that too, you'll enjoy my Quoth The Raven packet filled with fun.
I don't know of any teacher who does not cover rules and regulations on the 1st day of school; seems like that takes up the better part of the day and can be a bit boring for the average kiddo. Why not let your students have a say in the rules? With a little teacher guidance, you can pretty much steer your students into thinking up everything you'd have put on a list anyway.
I thought a cool way to do this was with Edgar Allan Poe's "nevermore raven". If your school mascot is a raven, you'll find this even more appropriate. Choose one of my "Nevermore" headers and then ask students what they think should NOT happen in their class. Examples for older students would be texting, put-downs, having cell phones ring, and checking Facebook on their laptops. Younger children will think of name calling, kicking, biting, spitting, pinching, pushing, hitting etc.
Jot down things as they come up with them. Have a discussion of why they think avoiding this kind of behavior will be helpful to the class. After you have made and voted upon things that need to be on your classes' Nevermore List, type it up, laminate and post it. Employing student participation, makes children feel important and part of the process. You may want them to sign the document, as further reinforcement of your class's rule commitment. Red ink anyone?
To expand on the "Nevermore" theme, discuss why it's important to try and do your best and improve throughout the year. Discuss your students' goals and what they want to accomplish. Afterwards, discuss any behavior that might get in the way of reaching those goals. i.e. missing assignments, not doing homework, not studying, not reading, procrastinating, etc.
Have students reflect on their own personal goals and things they'd like NOT to do anymore. Have them write their thoughts down on the template. Make a copy of their 1st day photo and have them glue it to their paper to make it extra special.
Another interesting writing prompt for the 1st few days of school is done with word art.
I absolutely LOVE Tagxedo. It's a FREE, and an extremely easy word-art program. I have a multitude of ideas of how to use this site that is never ending. With the help of an adult, even a young 5 or kindergartner can make a word picture. Since most of us have a computer in the classroom to use as a center, this offers relevant technology time. I call this writing "craftivity" Quoth the Student Forever More. Run off the raven holding a sign so each of your students has one.
If you'd like to cut and paste your students' photo and type in their name, as I've done on the sample, visit the very creative and generous Tidbits and Trinkets for the raven graphic. If you like the font I used, it's called Kelly Ann Gothic. You can find it for free by clicking on the link. Otherwise, simply use my template and have students glue their photo in the frame and write their name.
Play around with Tagxedo before you demonstrate it to your class. I suggest making your own sample. Students always enjoy learning things about their teacher. For your convenience, I've included my raven silhouette so that you can import it. I didn't want to make this blog too long, so I've included a Tagxedo "how to" with the packet. There's also a word art "Nevermore" raven poster.
Have students think of adjectives that describe themselves. These are qualities that are worth "raving" about, and the words that they will type into the "load" section of Tagxedo.
Explain to students that quoth is an old English way of saying "said." This is why they'll be attaching their raven with the sign to their word art. i.e. Kelli is raving about the wonderful qualities she possesses, that make her special.
I've also designed a hanging tag to help make your bulletin board pop. Explain to your students that they "earn" one of these when they have given their best effort and completed the activity. The portrait of Poe is from a real US postage stamp. I got the free digital clipart tag over at Granny Enchanted. I stumbled upon her wonderful site late last night and am thrilled to be using some digital clip art now. My wheels are turning of all sorts of things I want to create!
Students print out their word art ravens, attach them to a sheet of black construction paper, along with their photo-name. Punch a hole somewhere and tie on their tag. After students share their work, scatter them over a b. board covered with aluminum foil, newsprint, or wrapping paper with a vintage look. I've provided a header that says: "Writing worth raving about." as well as one that says: "Here's something to rave about: ___________'s new students!" Insert your name.
If this is too crafty for you, I've also made a 5-point "rave on" writing extension. Students could also comment or write about Poe's quote that I used in a mini poster, that you can throw up on the bulletin board There are bookmarks to match as well.
If you have older students, (8th -12th) have them listen to a rendition of The Raven poem on YouTube. I've given you a list of 4 of my all-time favorites, complete with spooky sound affects. I've also included a writing prompt for this activity + 2 awesome raven photographs, that students can also ponder about.
Click on the link to view/download the Quoth The Raven packet.
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"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things, which escape those who dream only by night." -Edgar Allan Poe