November is a great month to encourage writing, (as is any month). It is Picture book month and NanoWriMo (National Writing Month). Why not combine the two with your class and enjoy a reading and writing session using your favourite picture books as stimulus.
Reading and writing go hand in hand. One is always helped by achieving the other. Reading is improved when children read something they have written themselves just as writing improves the more they can read. Kids succeed with both these skills when brought together to share ideas, inspire, encourage and work as a team.
There is no need for a child to struggle alone in the classroom. As part of a team, they can develop their strengths as each member brings significant individual qualities to the group. One may have amazing creative ideas as a story starter, while it may take another to bring the story to conclusion. One child may be a great reader but need inspiration for ideas of their own. Teamwork can supply the support and encouragement for all to succeed. Together they can find the confidence to write and read a story that they may not be able to imagine individually.
This is particularly useful with multi-age groups where younger children have amazing imaginations but need the help of older kids to read and write. In turn, older kids who struggle with the lack of creativity or imagination are stimulated by their younger group members to develop ideas further, therefore together they are able to create a much more interesting story.
When put to work together it is surprising what ideas a group of children will come up with to produce a diverse range of stories taken from the same stimulation.
Take for example a group of children in varying ages from 6 to 12, brought together to write a Fractured Fairy Tale.
We began by reading aloud together the very familiar story of The Three Little Pigs. Everyone loves a fairy tale and all the colourful pictures that go along with the book. As you read together, even those who can’t yet read along, can still participate with the well known repetition. “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”
After the initial story, we discussed the characters and stories of a few more rather familiar fairy tales – Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood. Again, this allows all age groups to participate, it is not necessary to read all the stories as they are so well known.
We discussed the possibilities of what might happen should all these characters come together in one story. As a guidance I helped structure a beginning and middle of their stories before sending the groups off to work and discuss how they might bring their fractured fairy tale to a conclusion. They drew story boards for their ideas to help reach a satisfactory ending that they all agreed upon. This requires a lot of chatter, but it is busy, happy talking as they draw, read, discuss and write down ideas.
Here is an example of a story that one group worked together to encourage each other to read and write.
The Wolf Attack.
In a little cottage in the woods lived three bears.
One day they invited Goldilocks and her Grandmother for lunch. Little Red Riding Hood was also on her way to visit.
Meanwhile, the Big Bad Wolf was hungry. He was trying to catch the three little pigs for his dinner. They ran to the house of the three bears for safety.
The big bad wolf found some other evil wolves to join him and they followed everyone to the cottage in the woods.
The wolves banged on the door but they could not get in. So they disguised themselves as pigs and tried again.
But their growly voices gave them away and unknown to them, the pigs also had security cameras on the outside of the cottage.
The Three Little pigs, the Three Bears, Goldilocks, Grandmother and Red Riding Hood could not be fooled.
The bad wolves gave up and went away leaving everyone to enjoy their lunch.
What picture books would you use to help bring a group of students together to read and write?