Thursday, June 20, 2013

Favorite Books for Writing Activities or Journals

As I was organizing my classroom for the end of the year, I thought I would share some of my favorite books that I use for an afternoon writing activity, book journal writing, or even sub plans. These are just good everyday books, not holiday themes. What I do is have simple papers printed out for a writing activity specifically for each of these books, and stored right in the front cover of the book.  That way, it is very easy to grab a "go to" book I love and have the writing activity right there, ready to go! Then, I can use that or choose to have the children answer a question about the book in their journal.   Below are some of my favorites with the writing prompt I use.

My children love these That's Good, That's Bad books.  There is That's Good, That's Bad on Santa's Journey, in Washington DC, and in the Grand Canyon.  I haven't seen the last two, but the Santa's Journey is fun, too.  These are great turn and talk discussion starters and for writing ideas! Sometimes I save all the stories, laminate them, and put them together for a class book.

 (I bet your figured out that this would be on the back! :)
 Other similar books I like to use are:
This one is great for the vocabulary words "fortunately" and "unfortunately."


Always in Trouble is a fun book that the children can easily relate to... (hmmm...)
The stories they shared were so amusing to me that I turned this into a book that I copied and sent home to share with parents. 
 Here are some that amused me...

 (This little guy didn't really write all year long, but he sure did want to tell me all about setting his house on fire!  And that was a great illustration for him, too!- Well, I guess "great" is kind of subjective there since it is a picture of his burning house...So...  Actually, let's say he finally drew an illustration with his story.  :) 
Here are some more!
No matter how silly the requests, there is one day a year when kids always receive positive answers: Can I have pizza for breakfast? Yes! Can we have a food fight? Yes! Can I stay up really late? Yes! This day is simply called Yes Day and it's the best day of the year.

I am going to be
a great artist.
I am off to help my dad
paint the shed.
It’s hard to be content with the present moment when you are little. The future has infinitely more possibilities!

How deep is the bond between a child and a beloved pet? And how far will a pet go to protect his dear friend? To the ends of the earth . . . always

For this book, sometimes I have the children write and illustrate a story about something wonderful that has happened to them, and other times I have had them write about something they think is wonderful about themselves or their family.

the world is filled with so many wonderful things -- birds that fly through the sky and peaches that grow on trees, spiders spinning webs and cats napping in windows, fresh-baked bread and new-fallen snow. and then there's the most wonderful thing of all -- you!

I have the children write and illustrate a time when they were brave. 

This book is about a tiny fish who steals a hat from a big fish.  The ending of the book shows the big fish with his hat back on... It does not say how that happened!  I have the children write and tell me just how they think the big fish got his hat back.  Did he ask nicely for his hat back? Did he eat the tiny fish?  There are LOTS of ideas... :) 
 When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . .
Children LOVE the book If....  It sets them free to imagine and create their own "if" collections. 
In her first book, artist Sarah Perry has created twenty magical watercolors that are an open invitation to the imaginations of children. Beautifully produced in full color, these fantastic images conjure up a world of limitless possibilities where anything can happen: leaves turn into green fish...cats fly about on wings...and butterflies become a little girl's coat of many colors.
The If book reminded me of our activity for Horton Hatches an Egg.
I have had the children write "Horton was faithful." We talk about what "faithful" means and how what Horton did that made him a faithful friend. 
Another activity I like to do is having the children choose and draw two different animals, then combine them into one "new" animal.  Here is a sample one I did to show the children. ( Susanna, at Whimsy Workshop, please don't judge me for the poor, poor artwork quality... ha ha! )

This is an "oldie" but I love it! :) The children love the illustrations and the thought of trying to live in a cave, on an island, or in a tree.  After we read this, I have them write about their perfect place to live with LOTS of details. 
These are great for compare/contrast lessons as well as sequencing.
 (any Little Red Hen story of the millions out there! :)
I also use these for compare/contrast charts and Venn Diagrams:
 (of course I have the ORIGINAL 1969 version!  And love it!  :) 
The last one I will leave you with is one of my favorites

"The important thing about rain is that it is wet. It falls out of the sky, and it sounds like rain, and makes things shiny,  and it does not taste like anything, and is the color of air.  But the important thing about rain is that it is wet." 
It is so wonderful for character education and self-studies.  For older children (2nd grade) I  had the class write a page similar to the actual story, with several facts about themselves, followed by "But the important thing about me is that I am ______."
For my Kindergarteners, I have them just write and illustrate two sentences.  "My name is ______.  The important thing about me is that I am _____________."   Sometimes I hang these up in the classroom and sometimes I make laminate them and make a ... you guessed it.... class book!
Thank you for visiting! 
Carolyn :)  

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