Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Block City and Writer's Workshop

I'm linking up with Mrs. Jump's Class  for Book Talk Tuesday. Thank you for hosting, Deanna! I always love seeing great book ideas.

We read Block City and lots of other construction book last week when we worked on the letter Bb.  I kept the books out by our block area so the children could read them or use them for ideas when they created on their own buildings. It was fun to see the children looking at the books for ideas. 

I had the children work together in pairs to create something out of any kinds of blocks, using animals, aliens, army guys... as extras.  It was a really good way for the children to practice communicating, sharing ideas, and working together.

When each group finished the creation, I took a picture of it.  I made a writing paper out of the pictures. For Writer's Workshop the next day, the children had to write about what they built.  I loved this for a couple reasons.

First of all, it was all writing.  Some of my students will draw, and draw, and draw, and hesitate to start in on writing words, because they aren't comfortable with that.  One of my little guys looked at me and said, "You know I don't know how to write words, right?" - like I was mistaking him for someone else.  So it was a great opportunity to show him that he really did know how to write!  There was no "hiding" behind drawing pictures.

Next, it gave the children a built in idea for a story- a real life  prompt.  On the rug, I explained what we were going to do with the papers.  Then, I gave each child his/her paper, and had everyone turn and talk about what they would write about by looking at their pictures.

There were many great conversations and details that came out of this turn and talk, so they had more ideas when they got started.  (That's also why some of the papers look a little wrinkled in the picture, but it was well worth it! I'll take wrinkled papers and great ideas any day over perfectly smooth papers and no writing!)

Finally, it is a great activity for any stage of writer.  If they are capable of writing more, they do.  If not, we work from there.

Here are some samples of their work:
"I built with people and built gates on the side."

 I love that she was really trying to get letters down on her paper. This was a first for her!

 "I built the Wild Kratts."

 "It was hard.  It was not balanced. It was tricky."

 He knew I wanted words!  At the bottom he heard sounds for 'snake building.'  He also was proud that he used 15 blocks, and added that to the side.

 I was SO PROUD of him for hearing  the beginning sounds of "I made a truck."I helped him form the 'm' and 't,' and we reread what he wrote. You should have seen him beaming!
This was also one of our first shares from Writer's Workshop.  The children really felt accomplished, because they could use their picture to help them tell about what they wrote.

I made a copy of this writing activity to save for myself as a writing sample.  We will do this activity again in May, and I can show the children (and their parents)  their growth.

I also used these pictures to make our own Block City classroom book.
Here are some samples from the book we made a couple years ago.  This year's book is in the process of being laminated.

Have fun!  Thank you for stopping by. Check out some other great book ideas at Mrs. Jump's Class blog!


  1. Thank you for sharing and celebrating all levels of writing abilities. So sweet and look how proud!

  2. What a wonderful idea to engage young readers and writers. I'm so glad I discovered your blog through the Book Talk Linky. I look forward to reading more!
    Thanks, Jen :)


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