Pumpkin Patrol - Writing October 22 2009

Writing can be a chore for some kids, and I like to take every opportunity I can to make it fun. This time of year offers a variety of activities across the curriculum, and writing is no exception. I've included more skill-based activities as well as a writing exercise that will work with most elementary age children!

Make An Ad-lib

Ad-libs are great tools for practicing parts of speech. Most commonly covered are nouns - proper, common, plural and singular, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions.

If I'm working with a whole group, I number the blanks in the story from 1 to the end, and I also list those numbers on the board. Students are chosen one at a time to fill in the appropriate part of speech as I hold the book, the subject of the story still a mystery. When all of the blanks are filled, I read the story with their choices. Completing two ad-libs insures that every student gets to participate!

I found this Write Your Own Madlibs sheet for directions on not only how you can write one, but how your kids can write and exchange them in partners! In addition, I found the following Halloween-themed Mad Libs ready to go:

Halloween Mad Libs - Trick!

Halloween Mad Libs - Treats!

Halloween Mad Libs - Spooky!

If you'd like ad-lib activities on the computer, check out my Pumpkin Patrol - Technology post!

Similes and Metaphors

It doesn't hurt to review certain skills time and again, especially those language skills that are inevitably tested. Use this time of year to go over similes and metaphors - how they're alike (they compare unlike things) and how they're different (one is a statement, one uses like or as).

For the season, I made a Scary Similes sheet that will help students recognize similes and metaphors as well as identify what two subjects are being compared. I also through in a riddle for good measure (don't tell, but the answer is "Ice scream").

The How-To

This is a great activity that practices the detail of a how-to with some imaginative artwork. First, have students create - sketch, paint, use colored pencils - a jack-o-lantern. Gather up the artwork and hide them. Then in paragraph form, have each student describe how a person who has not seen this jack-o-lantern should draw its face.

When paragraphs are completed, have students trade papers and draw their partner's jack-o-lanterns without any input from the other person.

Come together as a whole group to review the process -were there any steps left out? Any details that could be added? Is there a beginning and ending to the paragraph? Have each student revise his/her paragraph and try the exercise again, directing students to revise their paragraphs a second time, this time focusing on adding or leaving out details as well as editing spelling, punctuation and grammar.

When this is done, students write a final copy to be displayed with their illustrations of the jack-o-lanterns. What a great way to honor their writing!