Now that it is the last couple of weeks before the much anticipated Winter Break, I can definitely see that the kids are tired. It has been a long fall, and we are all looking forward to two weeks off soon. So this is the time when we, the teachers, have to bring out the fireworks in our lesson planning to find creative ways to snag the depleting attention of our students to keep them engaged with learning for at least a few more days.
One activity I have done for the past three years in writing with great success is how-to writing with drawing snowmen. This activity can be spread over three or four days and would make a great way to end your last few days before break.
Day 1: Pass out paper and ask students to draw a snowman. They should use crayons, markers, or colored pencils to decorate it, but no other art supplies.
Day 2: Hand back the students' drawings to the original artist. Tell students that they now need to write directions on how to draw the exact same snowman in a how-to writing piece. This is a good time to discuss transition words and using specific details to describe their snowman well. Tell students that tomorrow, you will distribute the directions randomly around the room and another student will draw the snowman described on their how-to paper.
Day 3: Randomly distribute the how-to directions and a new sheet of blank paper. The students are to read and follow the directions as written to try to recreate the snowman drawing.
Day 4: Gather together to share the "before" and "after" pictures. It is really funny to see some of the recreations--and leads to a great discussion about adding specific details to writing.
When you think about it, one of the best ways to make meaning of our reading is to VISUALIZE it and if we aren't including enough SPECIFIC detail in our writing, our reader may be confused. Writers need to remember this. As you do the show and share, students will quickly see that those who used specific details had the two drawings that looked pretty similar.
Here are two samples of our final product. Look at the amount of writing in the middle and how that compares to how well the two drawings match. Hmmmm....
If you're looking for a fun writing activity to wrap up your week before vacation, I hope you will give it a try!