While some teachers cringe as distracting holidays grow closer, I like to embrace the moment and utilize it for good. Good writing, that is!
Halloween is upon us and if your little ghouls and goblins are having a hard time sitting still, start your day with, "Today we are learning all about CANDY!" It is a powerful word - CANDY - and should not be used lightly. So, be prepared to bring the candy out and have some eager learners by your side.
What better time to work with candy than Halloween? Instead of you having to go out and buy it, your kiddos will be bringing it home for your inspection. Perfect!
So, once you know the stash is good-to-go, try some of these ideas to incorporate candy and writing.
1. For younger children, start by having them alphabetize the different candy they collected.
2. For children a little older, with eyes closed, reach in and grab one candy. Write the letters on a piece of paper. How many words can you make? (For example, HERSHEY BAR: her, she, he, bars, yes, see, bear, etc.)
3. With empty wrappers, create a fun comic strip. I love this idea below from Our Thrifty Home.
4. Write a narrative story-telling-adventure from the perspective of a piece of candy. Where did he start, what did he see, what happened to him, and did he survive?!
5. Make a "Candy Board" with various candies. Use it to write out a story, make a yummy note for Dad, or cheer up a friend. Here is an example of one.
6. Develop a Facts and Opinion paragraph or essay on any candy of your choice. It can be a real eye opener to realize most of our arguments are often opinionated even though we know the facts are more convincing. (For example, there are both facts and opinions I can write about Three Musketeers. Facts: chocolate, sweet, fluffy center, made by Mars, etc. Opinions: delicious, best chocolate bar invented, satisfying, etc.)
7. Construct a Comparison and Contrast paragraph or essay on two different candies. Use a Venn Diagram as your graphic organizer.
8. Jot down you Halloween night escapade. This makes a perfect journal prompt on November 1st. And, best of all, you child is capturing his or her fun memories for you to keep.
Whatever you do, plan to have fun! Some of the happiest childhood memories are centered around fun holidays and celebrations. Drop the dread and have fun instead. It will be spooktacular, I'm sure.
There is something quite charming about the word gigglemug. Recently, I learned it is an old Victorian slang term for a person who always shared a ready smile and happy disposition with others. Well, there you have it, my goal is to be a gigglemug for life!
Something that put a smile on my face this weekend was making a new, and healthful, recipe. Sitting on my counter were four somewhat-old red apples. You know the kind: too soft for anyone to take a good, crisp crunch out of. Not wanting to toss them, I headed for my computer. Google led me straight to a low-carb version of Apple Dump Cake.
The steps were simple enough. Her recipe called for four cups of sliced apples, but I only had two. No worries. I just planned to cut the recipe in half. After coring, peeling, and slicing the apples, I put the dry ingredients together. Since I had no clue what Swerve was, but I did have unrefined, all-natural Coconut Sugar in the pantry, I substituted the two. Cinnamon Stevia? I'll have to get some of that! For the interim, I just used the unflavored Stevia I had on hand and dashed in some extra cinnamon powder for flavor.
After mixing the dry and wet ingredients together, I sprayed a loaf pan with coconut oil and dusted it with cinnamon sugar which I keep in a special shaker all its own. Smoothing it out as best I could, into the oven it went for 20-25 minutes. I'll say, it is not the prettiest cake or bread, but it was pretty tasty. My boys described it as a spongy, sweet apple bread. It paired beautifully with my dark roast coffee!
Well, that is just lovely, right? But, what does this have to do with writing?
Everything. And, you just read my journal entry, summary, or descriptive essay.
Life is always happening. Sometimes it is exciting and sometimes not. Some days are just simple. However, from all experiences, we likely have something to glean and something to share with others through writing.
Parents, as you inspire your child to write this week, think about the simple things that happened over your weekend. What were the details? How might you use those to create a fun writing assignment? And, perhaps most importantly, what made you and your children gigglemugs?
Is your child getting enough writing instruction and writing practice at home?
Since I do not believe a student can write "too much", I'm going to say most everyone can step up his or her writing game. For starters, all students should write, in some way, every single day.
Fifteen minutes of additional writing per day will substantially improve the quality of your child's writing ability. Just 15 minutes for grades third through eighth. So, if you normally spend ten minutes a day requiring your child to write, increase that to 25 minutes. By the end of the year, you will see a remarkable improvement. Be honest, are you not writing every day? Well, on those "non-writing" days, add 15 minute writing activities. Trust me, it is a wise use of your time.
There is plenty of research to back me up on this, too. Sure, many of us may disagree on how to teach the best writing lessons, but we can all agree that students must write to improve their writing abilities . And, honestly, today’s students are not writing enough.
Oh, of course, there will be griping and whining - probably on both the student and the parent side of things. However, better swimmers swim for hours and better runners run for miles. It is the practice that precipitates improvement.
And, before I sign off, it would benefit us all to understand why daily writing is so important. Dr. Steve Graham has done plenty of research and enough writing of his own to authoritatively state that more writing results in better reading comprehension. As well, frequent and consistent writers increase their ability to both learn and retain information. Aren't those things we all want for our children?
Get creative, have fun, and increase your child's writing at home this week. Do you need ideas? I can help. Visit me at www.writeonwebb.com.
Author: Melissa Webb
CA Credentialed Teacher