Writing, writing, writing… at any grade level this task can be difficult and challenging. Making sure that the assignment is common core aligned, rigorous, and engaging, can be a challenge for any teacher (rookie or vet). That’s why I just L.O.V.E. writing projects in first grade. I feel as though when I can tie a writing project into different parts of their day, I am able to get a higher buy in percentage. For this activity, I linked the students writing piece to the story Snowmen All Year by Carolyn Buehner. In this story, a boy imagines a snowman that he can play with all year long. The boy and his snowman go swimming, fly a kite at the beach, watch the 4th of July fireworks, etc.
Like I said, I try to weave the writing task throughout the curriculum to keep them engaged and thinking about the writing task all day. During our reading block, we retell the story and identify beginning, middle, and end. This is also where we start to investigate BOLD beginnings, MIGHTY middles, and EXCELLENT endings. During our math block, students are working with SUBTRACTION SNOWMEN found in our Winter Math Center unit.
To give you an insight into this project, below is the timeline I follow:
Discuss BOLD beginnings, read some stories that have bold beginnings and practice writing openings with a question as a bold beginning. IS THAT A SNOWMAN IN ITALY? I usually begin Day 1 on a Monday and send home a family letter and snowman template. The family connection for this writing piece is to have the students work at home to decorate their snowman according to their theme.
As a class we help each other think of creative and catchy names for our snowman. We then write about the reason why the snowman went to the selected destination. (i.e. Sunny the Snowman went to Hawaii to learn how to learn how to surf.)
On this day we discuss MIGHTY middles and write about the different things the snowman did while visiting his/her destination. This is where we also focus on adding details and adjectives to bring their stories to life.
We begin to wrap up our writing project, and focus on EXCELLENT endings. For this project I had the students work on feeling sentences to close up their pieces.
We play T.A.G. (T= Tell your writing partner something you liked about their writing piece) (A= Ask your partner a question about their writing piece) (G= Give your partner a positive suggestion about their writing piece). After we play tag the students edit, revise and begin their final drafts.
On day 6 we have an Authors Celebration, where the students read their writing piece and show their snowman project to the class. We wrap up this piece by hang the projects in the hallway and we send out invitations to the other 1st grade classes to come for a project viewing.
(Is that a snowman at the zoo?)
(Is that a snowman in Mexico?)
(Is that a snowman in NYC?)
(Is that a snowman at a football game?)
Check out our In School Snow Day Unit for all the materials needed for this writing project!