Friday, January 13, 2017

Writing All About Books 5 For Friday!

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Thank you for hosting, Kacey!

We are working on our All About Books in our Lucy Calkins Writing  Units.My kids are really having a lot of fun with it, but his year I just seem to have a LOT of children who just aren't developmentally ready for the actually physical writing part of writing. They just can't get down on paper what they want to, so anyone can read it.  

Other years, I've had several strugglers, but then I also had some who made me feel better.  This year's group has needed a lot more time building those fine motor muscles and practicing.

When I  take a deep breath, I can see such huge growth from September when they had even less idea of writing- but...  some days I just wake up at 2AM and think, "HOW CAN I GET MY KIDS TO WRITE NEATLY?"    Really- I  do that.  I might need more of a life. 

Anyway, one thing I tried that has made them think a little more about neatness, spaces, and rereading to see if 1. They can read it.  and 2. They didn't leave out any words,  is to give them each a "Teacher Name" for writing time.  Since they are writing All About books to teach others about something, they need to be teachers!  So I taped these new name tags over their regular ones, and I call them Miss Webb or Mr. Jones during writing time.  They love it!  I do a lot of modeling to show them how I (a teacher) need to write neatly so they can read it, and how hard it would be if I didn't leave spaces or didn't take my time writing.  

I also let them use the Spaceman Spacer (That I got from Kinder-Gardening's awesome Sight Word Sentence Construction Packet and just love!).  This paper is morning work- so they copy the sentence I wrote.  I know... that is old fashioned and whatever else- BUT it is really helping my kids understand HOW a sentence is supposed to look.  I figured out that the problem so many had was that they don't have enough practice writing correct sentences.  Copying mine has given them a lot of confidence as they write their own.  

I have also enlisted the help of their writing partners for this task.  Even when we do a practice write, like the paper above, I have them switch papers with a writing buddy to see if the writing buddy can read their writing.  They seem to try harder and "get it" when a friend is going to be reading their paper.  

Once the children feel like REAL TEACHERS, they get very serious.  This is an example from one of my boys who has come SO FAR, and I am so proud of him.  He wrote about "Rools" (Rules) and came up with some for our class to follow.  He used spaces and heard so many sounds.  He could barely hold a pencil for the first couple months.   I wanted him, and the other children, to see how their work can really be useful and used in the classroom.  So, I enlarged his page of rules and hung it by our door as the kids line up.  He was beaming from ear to ear.  
Be quiet.  Be good.  Do what the teacher says.

That about sums it up, doesn't it?! 
We brainstormed ideas that we could teach about.  The kids did well coming up with their first story idea, then they got in a rut- after only ONE.  So, we came up with some general topics, and talked about ways to narrow those topics down from there.  

I added this anchor chart to my Writing Prezi (in the Non-fiction section), so I can just put it up on the big screen and the children can look at it during writing to get ideas. If you have my Writing Prezi, you can bring it up on your screen, too!  

My final desperate attempt   helpful tip for teaching the children All About books came about when I realized that they didn't really understand HOW to teach something to someone.  If they were writing about Valentine's Day, the story might be, "I like Valentine's day.  It is fun." 

As the children write, I walk around and pepper them with questions about their topic... "Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day? What do people do on Valentine's Day? What is a Valentine?  What colors do you see a lot at Valentine's Day?  Who do you give the Valentine's to?  so they understand that their job is to answer questions someone may wonder about their topic, but still, this wasn't enough.  

SO to help us out, I enlisted the aliens from our toy area.  I explained that these aliens JUST landed and have  no idea about anything.  What is ice cream?  Is it hot?  Do you sleep on it?  How do you eat it?  Is there only one flavor?  ANY silly questions you can think of for a topic make the kids realize- HEY- these aliens don't know anything! 

I put four aliens around the room, so as the children write, they can see them and remember that those poor aliens don't know anything about what we have on earth! (We practiced pretending we were them holding up our arms saying "WHAT is a dog?  WHAT is summer?  WHAT is a color?..."


The kids LOVE the idea of writing to teach the aliens, so I'm taking it one more step, and printing out an alien picture for each of the children to keep by their writing area as they write- sort of a "pen pal" to teach.  I'm printing out lots of these so the kids can choose their favorite.  Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes...   

If you'd like your very own set of alien pictures, just click on the picture and you can download them!

Last week I posted in Pre K and K Sharing about how I love to use the Healthy Body Healthy Me packet that Dr. Jean and I made.  It's a great time of year to teach the children about their bodies and keeping their bodies healthy.  

This packet has two comprehensive Prezis with videos for each topic to teach and reinforce lessons. These are so much fun to use during those extra minutes you have each day- or as a lesson on its own!
This part of the Prezi is great for talking about emotions. I also use this when I'm teaching the children about adding details and feelings in their writing.
This part of the Prezi helps teach the children ALL about safety in different situations. 
We watch these videos a lot as reminders...
This is the second Prezi- full of our favorite shake breaks. 
The packet also includes Dr. Jean's songs Feeling Fine and Macarena Bones.  You'll hear your students singing these songs over and over.  They don't even realize all they're learning as they sing!
This packet is so much fun- the kids can't wait until we do our next activity.  They learn SO much about their bodies, it's amazing.  

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. Great blog post Carolyn. Teach an alien! So much fun!

  2. I love the idea to teach an alien! Great idea!

    Palmetto State Primary

  3. I love the idea of teaching aliens. It's similar to what Gogo from Gogo's Adventures With English does in the TV series. :)

    Ilinca from GrumpyDumpling

  4. Thank you for your honesty! I love this post! Sometimes kids just need a little extra and a lot more support. That is just reality in the kindergarten world. However, when it does click for them you are going to feel amazing! That little boy's paper about rules was beautiful!


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