A guest post about writing read alouds.
Hi friends! I’m Kristen from Where the First Graders Are!
I am so excited to team up with Jen and share with you three of my favorite picture books for teaching writing. I have to say that I love teaching writing more than any other subject. I love it because there is never a perfect paper, you simply try to inspire each student to write and illustrate better than they did the time before. I think there is something really special about that.
Let’s get started, shall we?
How to Extend a Story
I was introduced to a new book this year called Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street by Roni Schotter. In fair warning, this is a pretty long book. However, it serves as a great mentor text. Each page could be used as a different Writer’s Workshop mini-lesson on how to extend a story. The main storyline is about a young girl who is trying to write a story, but can’t think of anything to write about. As she sits on the steps of her house, she observes different people in her neighborhood who try to help her with her problem.
Here are some examples:
Mr. Sims, a retired actor, tells the narrator, “The whole word’s a stage. Observe. And don’t forget the details.”
Mrs. Martinez, a chef, tells the narrator, “Add a little action. Like soup. A little this. A little that. And don’t forget the spice.”
Alexis Leora, a ballerina, tells the narrator, “If your story doesn’t go the way you want it to, you can always STRETCH the truth!”
Illustrating and Sequencing
Patches Lost and Found by Steven Kroll is an adorable book about a girl named Jenny that loves to draw, but she doesn’t like to write. When Jenny’s teacher gives her a writing assignment, her mother encourages her to make a story with pictures first. Then she can go back and write the story.
This book serves as a great reminder to me as a teacher that some students (and adults) really do struggle to come up with a good storyline. After reading this book, I know give my students an allotted amount of time to write and illustrate their story. Some start with words and some start with pictures. I tell my kids that it is up to them what they do first, as long as the story is finished (or close to finished) in a certain period of time. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that about half way through the “allotted time” I encouraged my students to start writing if they hand’t already done so.
This book and method is really great if your students are struggling to writ stories wit a true beginning, middle, and end. In first grade, it still seems like a difficult concept for students to write a story where more than one event happens. Patches Lost and Found is a great mentor text for teaching sequencing and introducing/using those transition words.
If you have not read The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalk, you might be living under a rock. These two picture books have captured students’ and teachers’ hearts and they are a GREAT way to teach students about letter writing. If you don’t know, the first book I mentioned is about a little boy’s crayons writing him letters telling them why they are leaving him!
What I really love about this book as a mentor text is how the crayons’ letters to Duncan showcase so many different emotions. It is a great way to show students different reasons for writing letters. Sometimes you write letters because you are happy or upset, or you just might be writing to say hello.
(read Jen’s post on how she used this book to write friendly letters in her classroom)
Don’t forget to hop on over to Courtney’s blog for more writing read alouds!
What picture books do you use for writing mini-lessons? Share in the comments below!
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