Susan writes about dynamic writing/publishing activities – for PARENTS to do with their children!
- Susan Schwartz
During this challenging time of COVID-19, I have been self-isolating because of a lingering cold and wanting to do my part in protecting others. One of my daily home activities is to browse Facebook for anything informative or interesting. Over the past few days, since the school closing announcements, I have found myself forwarding posts about interesting activities that parents can do with their children during their lengthy stay-at-home no-school time. I see my friends and family subsequently liking and sharing my posts, and some have even emailed or texted me with a sincere thank you for the good ideas I have shared.
This morning, I had an epiphany when I realized that there are a lot of dynamic and extremely valuable literacy activities that PARENTS can easily implement at home with their children – in our recently launched CREATING THE DYNAMIC CLASSROOM, 4th Edition, 2020, which is a SERIES of 5 ebooks or paperbacks (on Amazon worldwide). Literacy information is mainly found in our BOOK 4: Creating a Student-Centred Literacy Classroom, while technology information is infused throughout the books but is focused in BOOK 2: Planning an Engaging, Dynamic and Inclusive Curriculum.
*For more information, check out our website: www.creatingthedynamicclassroom.com.
One exciting literacy activity is having your children write stories and then publish them in innovative and unique formats. This will improve their reading and writing skills, be innovative and productive as a parent-child learning experience, as well as be a great confidence-builder for your children!
Examples of books in different formats include:
- 8-page books
- Pop-up books
- Accordion books
- Double accordions
- Fold-out books
- Character-on-a-string books
- Puppet books
In order to make an 8-page book (which requires folding and no staples or tape), follow the steps below.
Using an 8 1/2” by 11” sheet of paper for each person:
- Fold the paper in half—like a hamburger, and NOT like a hot dog (not lengthwise).
- Fold the paper in half again, and then one more time.
- Open the paper with the fold line at the top—like a TENT.
- Cut with scissors or tear carefully along the vertical fold indentation, starting at the top (at the fold line), and cut down as far as the horizontal fold indentation halfway down the page.
- Open the paper and fold it, this time into a hot dog fold (lengthwise), with each hand holding the ends.
- Push, bringing your hands together, to form the 8-page book.
These mini-books can be used in a multitude of ways, such as for:
- Story-writing (with the title, illustration, and child author on the front page/cover)
- Book reports (with the title of the book read, an illustration about the book, and their name on the cover page, and subsequent pages might include a summary of the book, the setting of the book, the main characters, what I especially liked about the book, and/or recommendations about the book, etc.)
- Math problems, one on each page
- Vocabulary building, one word and illustration and/or meaning of the word on each page
- Research (with the topic, illustration, and child author on the front page, the table of contents on the next page, and one topic per page on each of the subsequent pages, and finally a Bibliography or References Used as the last page.
These 8-page books can be made in mini-format using 8.5 x11 inch paper, or if you use larger size paper, you can make bigger versions. You can even have children put two 8-page books together to create a book that stands by itself while also providing more room for the child to write/illustrate.
Also, keep in mind that there are some wonderful technology writing tools today that children can access and use at home. You may want to check these out as well. Here are a few technology ideas about writing that we recommend in our BOOK 2, specifically in Chapter 2.5, Creating a Technology-Rich Classroom. There are also many other ideas in this book for technology use for other subject areas.
- Involve students in creating presentations using free apps such as Tellagami (tellagami.com), which asks students to create avatars (graphic representations of themselves) that rest on top of images. Students can record their voices to make the avatar speak about the background image, or they can input text and have a computer-generated voice share information about the topic.
- Students can use Prezi, PowerPoint, or Google Slides to write poetry, letters, cards, or invitations, complete with sound effects and/or video clips.
- Have students read online newspapers that target specific grade and reading levels. These include www.Newsela.com, www.TeachingKidsNews.com, www.eduzineglobal.com, www.tweentribune.com , www.youngzine.org, www.dogonews.com, and www.cnn.com/studentnews .
- Invite students to use audio recording apps to record brainstorming sessions or reflections on a text prior to writing.
- Have students communicate with online pen pals in a different school or a different part of the world to encourage discussion and greater understanding about different communities and/or global issues. The Global Read Aloud (theglobalreadaloud.com) and PenPal Schools (www.penpalschools.com) provide ideas for how students can become involved with classrooms around the world.
- Use Skype (www.skype.com/en) or Zoom (www.zoom.com) to have a conversation/debate between two different classrooms in two different schools in two different countries.
- Record literature circle discussions using a variety of programs (Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Audacity, Garage Band,). This will dramatically increase student accountability and make it much easier for you to assess each student’s participation and reading comprehension.
1) The first stage is PREWRITING. Here is where your children come up with ideas and topics to write about. Having your children select their own topics to write about is important in building motivation and enjoyment for writing.
a) One good idea to ensure that children tailor their topics to their own interests is by having them brainstorm lists of:
- What I know a lot about (sharing their knowledge and experiences)
- What I like a lot (sharing their feelings and emotions about people, places, or things)
- What I want to know more about: (sharing their questions, their wonderings, which leads to having them do research):
Once these lists are created, encourage your children to select one topic and write! (If they decide to do research, you may want to help them find appropriate websites to find information.)
You may want to generate your own possible writing lists too – to model this activity for your children, as well as to share in their enthusiasm, and I highly recommend that you write too! Understanding the writing process from a personal and active point of view can be extremely valuable in empathizing with your children, and you could be an extremely powerful model for them!
2) Next is the composing or DRAFTING stage. This is when they write their thoughts to words, from head to paper/computer as fast as they can without worrying at this time about spelling or grammar. For very young children, you may want to be their scribe and write for them, or type into the computer as they share their story. (They later will read and reread their stories as they format them in interesting ways, illustrate, and share with others.)
3) What follows then is the REVISING stage. This is when they reread their work to make sure it makes sense, add more interesting words, take out anything that doesn’t need to be there, or change their writing in some way. The focus is on the storyline and structure of the writing. Parents can ask questions at this point to help clarify thinking and flow of writing.
4) The EDITING stage is next. This is when the writing is edited for spelling and grammar. Depending on the child, parents can help children recognize where periods or commas go; they can correct spelling by helping children sound out words; or they can simply act as an editor to make changes to the spelling and grammar (especially for young children or for older students who have many spelling and grammar errors). It is important at this stage to NOT discourage the child but to make this a painless learning experience.
5) The PUBLISHING stage is when children present their work in an interesting format. Once the format is decided upon, children can work on their printing or cursive handwriting skills by creating a polished piece of writing, or they can work on their typing/word processing skills by inputting their writing into the computer, or parents may even decide to be the ‘printer’ and input the revised/edited work and print it – to be cut and pasted into the book format. Again, it is important that this be a fun learning experience.
At this time too, children need to illustrate the pages of their book. Parents can help here by providing colourful writing tools as well as materials and textures for children to use, and/or by simply being a cheerleader! Technology can also be a good tool for illustrations.
6) The final stage is SHARING their writing in front of an audience. Here is where children gain a great sense of accomplishment as they become a published author. Designating (and maybe even labelling and decorating) an Author’s Chair in your home where authors sit to share their work is a good idea and helps to make the sharing aspect more important. Videotaping them reading their work while sitting on the Author’s Chair – and even posting it to their friends and family – can add to the experience.
Hope this was helpful. Please stay well, stay warm, stay creative and positive, and have fun together!
If you have any questions or comments, please send me an EMAIL.