Category Archives: creative writing

Make Way for Ducklings!

by Kelli Lewis

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Quack, quack! Here is a fun activity for kindergarten or first grade. Get your students involved and engaged as they become immersed in this beloved story and cute craft activity.

Read Aloud

  1. Read Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey.
  2. Use this time to review concepts you’ve been working on prior to this activity. For instance, ask students to identify the story’s problem and solution, make predictions, point out compound words or proper nouns, etc.
  3. Then, follow up the story by making your own ducklings!

Duckling Craft

Materials for one duckling:

• paper plate

• yellow crayon

• black crayon

• stapler

• yellow construction paper

• orange construction paper

Materials to have pre-made or pre-drawn so that the students can cut out (for one duckling): 1 orange duck foot (start by drawing an egg shape, then make the top part spiky for the toes), 1 small orange nose (triangle), 1 yellow duck head (circle).

Instructions:

• Fold paper plate in half and staple.

• Color both sides yellow with a crayon.

• Trace your hand on a piece of yellow construction paper and cut out. This will become your duckling’s feathers.

• Draw two black eyes on the duckling’s head (yellow circle).

• Glue the orange nose (triangle) on the duckling’s head (yellow circle).

• Glue the duckling’s head to one pointy end of the duckling’s body (folded paper plate).

• Glue the duckling’s feathers (yellow hand print) to the other pointy end of the duckling’s body (folded paper plate).

• Glue the orange foot (egg shape with spikes) to the bottom of the duckling’s body (folded paper plate), in the middle of the curve.

Writing Tie-In

To incorporate writing, depending on level:

  • Students can write their names on their ducks
  • Students can write one sentence on the back of their ducks, describing their duck with adjectives (“My duck is yellow.” “My duck is cute.” “My duck is fluffy.”)
  • Advanced students can write a paragraph about their duck on a separate piece of paper, which can then be glued inside the duck’s paper plate body. To get them started, ask these prompts: What does your duck eat? What does your duck look like? What does your duck do for fun?

The cute little ducks will surely “quack” up your students!

This classic book is often available in libraries, but if you’d like your own copy for $7.99, click here.

Kelli Lewis is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.

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Filed under Activities, Art, creative writing, Reading, reading aloud, Writing

The {Very} Hungry Caterpillar

by Kelli Lewis

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Here’s how to use this classic tale by Eric Carle with Pre-K and Kindergarteners to review sorting, beginning sounds, counting, transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, and making connections to the story.

Before participating in the activities below, begin by reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

1. Sorting

Provide items that are included in the book, such as apples, pears, strawberries, watermelon, pickles, lollipops, etc. I suggest that you use plastic items or some type of pre-made laminated cards. Allow students to sort the items together with ones that match the other. For instance, group all of the apples together, all of the pears together, etc. For students who need more advanced tasks, challenge your students to group them together using other attributes, such as size, color, shape, taste (sour, sweet, etc.), or even by seeds and no seeds or healthy and unhealthy.

2. Beginning Sounds

The hungry caterpillar eats different items on each of the days of the week. You can use this activity to review calendar concepts and days of the week. Have students try to remember what the caterpillar ate each day. Use the book to look back and find out or check with their guesses. Then, have students help you write two sentences for each day. The first one will state what he ate on that day, and the second one will list other foods that start with the same letter as that food. For instance: “He ate an apple on Monday.” You would write this very sentence. Then, students would try to think of other foods that start with “a” since apple starts with “a”.

3. Counting

Look back at the book. How many apples did he eat? (one) How many pears did he eat? (two) How many plums did he eat? (three) How many strawberries did he eat? (four) How many oranges did he eat? (five) And how many desserts did he eat? (ten!)

4. Metamorphosis

The hungry caterpillar made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep. Two weeks later, he woke up, and what did he turn into? Discuss this process, called metamorphosis, with the students and allow them to make a butterfly using paper and tissue paper pieces to make it colorful.

5. Making Connections

The hungry caterpillar eats many foods on his way to becoming a beautiful butterfly. What do you eat when you are very hungry? Have students write a sentence with the foods they eat when they are very hungry (“When I am very hungry, I eat ____.”), and then draw a picture to match their sentence.

To view a really cool Very Hungry Caterpillar board game, click here!

These creative ideas were shared by Kelli Lewis, a graduate student at The University of Georgia.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Centers, comprehension, creative writing, Games, Math, Phonics, Reading, Science, Writing

The Little Red Hen {awesome activities!}

by Kelli Lewis

Comment on this post and be entered into our monthly drawing for a $20 School Box gift card!
Here is a fun activity to submerge your kindergarteners or first graders in this memorable story favorite. They’ll participate in their own writing and bring the story to life through an adorable craft. Just in time for spring…and perfect for the classroom or at home with your own kiddos.

Start by reading The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone.

This is the classic folk tale version most of us are familiar with (and it’s available at The School Box for $5.95 if your library doesn’t have it). Use this time to review concepts you’ve been working on prior to this activity. For instance, ask students to identify the story’s problem and solution, make predictions as you’re reading, point out compound words or proper nouns, etc.

Next, watch The Little Red Hen on video.

I found this on youtube.com, but you may or may not have permission to show this in your classroom. However, I would bet there is a way you can get this from your school media center or the local library, since it’s such a popular video. Here’s the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zr-yQGD9eAA

Connect and write about it.

Have students write sentences about how they help out around their homes: “I help at home when I ________.” Then, they can draw a picture to show them helping.

Bring your story to life with a craft!

This hen is pretty easy to assemble and fun to create. I like using the hen template found here: http://www.first-school.ws/t/craft/hen_c_craft.html. However, by taking a look at it, you could easily get your own ideas for making a hen.

Make it scrapy! Using scrapbook paper for the hen’s feathers/arms makes these little guys absolutely adorable. Check your local Hobby Lobby or any other crafty stores for a variety of scrapbook paper with all different sorts of prints. These places usually have a section of discounted papers you can sort through, if you’d like. Cooking-themed and farm-themed papers repeat the story’s themes, but red-and-white checkered paper is super cute, too.

Who’s down for an extension?

After reading this version of the Little Red Hen, children get really tickled by reading different versions.  Check out The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges, with its modern, wacky twist. Then, talk about how the two stories are similar, and yet also different.

So, who’s going to go try these activities? And none of you had better answer, “Not I”!

For more Little Red Hen ideas, including a felt board set and a Big Book, click here.

Kelli Lewis is a graduate student at The University of Georgia whose creative ideas are always inspiring!

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Filed under Activities, Art, comprehension, creative writing, Language Arts, Reading, reading aloud, reluctant readers, Writing

Be Your Own Author!

by Rachel Stepp

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The story Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk is about a small mouse who dwells in the library and decides to become an author. He stays up during the night writing undersized books for his local library. The patrons of the library discover the books and fall in love with them! They become so curious about the author that they leave him a note. They want to meet him, but they don’t know he’s a mouse. Instead of revealing himself, the library mouse puts a mirror in a tissue box to encourage the children to see themselves as their own authors.

Write Your Own Books!

After you have read this book to the class, tell your students that they are going to be creating their own library books…just like the library mouse. Here’s how:

1. Prewriting

First, brainstorm ideas as a class. What would you like to write about? In the story, the mouse wrote about things he knew, such as himself and cheese. Help your students make a list of things that they know and could write about (pets, friends, activities they enjoy, toys they play with, etc.).

2. Drafting

Encourage your students to write rough drafts of their story with a beginning, middle and end.

3. Revising and Editing

Tell your students to read back over their drafts. Make this checklist on the board, for students to follow as they reread their stories:

Does the story make sense?
Does anything need to be added or changed?
Do the sentences all have capital letters and punctuation?
Do I need to check the spelling of any words?

4. Final Copy

Help your students make their own books by folding paper in half and stapling it. On the day that students will write their final drafts, create a tissue box with a mirror in it (like the one in the story). Have each student “meet the author” by looking into the box and seeing themselves. This will help students envision themselves as authors and illustrators!

5. Publishing!

After your students have written their own books, put them on display in your classroom library. Students will enjoy sharing their books with their peers and getting new ideas from others. You can even allow the children to read their books to the class, just like the teacher.

6. A Fun Text-to-Life Connection

A fun way to conclude this unit is to tell your students that the school’s library mouse will probably be visiting the classroom when he hears that there are new books to read! After one night, leave a small (mouse-sized) note from the mouse. Tell your students that the mouse has come during the night and read through some of the books. You can make it personal by including small comments about titles of books, illustrations, student names and even fun suggestions. Students will be enthused by the idea of the school’s mouse reading their books!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who often shares her creative ideas on A Learning Experience.

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Filed under comprehension, creative writing, grammar, Language Arts, Reading, reading aloud, Writing

Creating a Class Quilt

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By Rachel Stepp

One of my favorite projects is creating a class quilt (out of paper…no needles required :). This activity promotes class unity, reinforces summarizing skills, uses the strategies of visualizing, synthesizing and connecting, and creates a stunning bulletin board or wall display. How’s that for multi-tasking?

Begin with a Book

To introduce this idea, read The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston. Teach your class about the history of quilts, including how women used to use scraps from old clothing to piece together a warm quilt. Talk about how quilts can tell stories because of their different scraps. Your class will be making a quilt that will tell a story they want to share.

Quilting Steps

  1. Brainstorm different stories your students might want to tell. List their ideas on the board, which may include: something I like to do at school, all about me (personality and interests), my favorite memory, my favorite thing that we have studied this year, all about my pet, all about my family, etc.
  2. Give each student a square of white construction paper (an 8″ square is easy to cut from an 8×10 sheet, and white makes a nice background for student pictures).
  3. First, students should write a rough draft of their paragraph (or sentence, depending on age level) on notebook paper. Discuss using sensory details, correct paragraph format, etc. Modeling a sample paragraph on the board, first, is a wise idea before students begin.
  4. Their paragraphs/sentences need to be rewritten in a final draft on white paper (or a notecard) and glued onto their squares, near the bottom (to leave room for an illustration).
  5. Once their paragraphs/sentences are complete, they can begin drawing a scene on their white square to illustrate their writing.
  6. When each child has finished, mount each white square on a larger square of colored construction paper. You may choose to laminate each mounted square for a polished look, but it’s not necessary. Punch a hole in each of the four corners of the colored squares, and use yarn to tie the squares together to look like a quilt. Yarn bows look especially cute and “quilt-y.” If you have an odd number of students, use plain colored construction paper squares randomly throughout the quilt to make an even number so the quilt forms an even rectangle when pieced together.
  7. To save time, the white squares could also simply be glued to a large piece of colored bulletin board paper to make one large quilt.
  8. Be sure to give your quilt a title and hang it in a visible place so that other classes can see it. This will help to share the story of your classroom throughout the school.

This idea could also be modified as a creative book report idea: each student could create a square to summarize a book or a different chapter. The quilt could even be used to sequence an historical event or time period, like the Civil War.

By making a class quilt, your students will be able to see that they can all work together to create a masterpiece. To continue with the theme of quilts, you can invite parents into the classroom to bring in family quilts. Student connections will abound, making this activity a memorable one for all!

If your students get inspired, they may want to make a “real” quilt at home with this beginner’s “knot quilt” kit from The School Box. So darn cute!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who is full of creative ideas.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Assessments, Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, comprehension, Cooperative Learning, creative writing, grammar, Reading, Writing

My Own Little Fishy! (class pets made easy)

by Rachel Stepp

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Do you have a class pet that needs constant care, feeding, and attention? Well, if you’re tired of having the pet responsibility in your classroom, but you want your students to feel like they have their own “pet,” you can help them make their own fish tanks that they can take home! (Don’t worry… no fish will be harmed in the making of this craft!)

Materials: (per child)

- One 2-liter clear soda bottle

- Enough fish tank rocks to fill the bottom of the bottle

- A foot of fishing line

- A small fishing sinker

- Styrofoam tray from your grocer’s local meat packaging facility

- Scissors

- Blue food coloring

- Markers

- Water

Procedures:

  1. Cut the shape of a fish from the foam tray. The fist has to be small enough to fit through the top of the 2 liter bottle.
  2. Allow your students to draw on their fish with permanent markers.
  3. Attach the fishing line to the fish by piercing a small hole in the fish and tying a knot. Make sure that your line between the sinker and the fish is no longer than the soda bottle.
  4. Attach the fishing sinker to the other end of the fishing wire by tying another knot.
  5. Fill the bottom of the soda bottle with fish tank rocks.
  6. Drop your foam fish into the bottle, sinker side first.
  7. Fill the bottle with water and add blue food coloring.
  8. Use hot glue to secure the lid onto the top of the soda bottle.

Once you have done the above steps, your little fish should float to the top of the bottle. The blue food coloring will make it appear that your fish always has clean, sparkling water! To adapt this project on a smaller scale, you can use smaller soda bottles so that they are more manageable for smaller children.

Writing Tie-Ins:

And, now is the perfect time to introduce a fun writing project! Here are a couple “fishy” ideas to get you started:

  • Descriptive Writing: Write a paragraph introducing your fish. Include all the “vitals”: name, age, description, likes/dislikes, family, background/history, place of origin, etc.
  • Fiction/Creative Writing: Write the story of how your fish came to live in your bottle. Where was he born? How did she get into the bottle? What does he like about the bottle? Dislike? What does he like to do all day?
  • Nonfiction Writing: Research freshwater fish, saltwater fish, fish habitats, etc. What did you learn from your research? Include 3-5 facts about fish.
  • Expository Writing: How to catch a fish. Research the steps to fishing, from finding bait to reeling ‘em in. Write the steps as a “How To Catch A Fish” guidebook for beginner fishermen.

For some other fishy-related classroom ideas, check out The School Box.com’s goodies. The inflatable sea creatures are some of my favorites. :)

And here’s an idea for a super unique (and educational) classroom pet: A Worm Farm!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia and a sharer of many great classroom ideas!

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