1) Summer Memories
My sister gave me this first idea.
My first read aloud of the year is Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.
Then Wildred goes on another quest. This time, to find objects that fit all of those definitions. For example, he finds a football, which to him is as precious as gold, and a war medal that his grandfather gave him which made him sad. He presents all the objects to Miss Nancy, and she remembers her own stories that are connected to each one of Wilfred's objects.
After the story, I tell the kids that they are going to bring in their own memories... their own objects that remind them of a story from this past summer. One year I brought in my puppy's tooth as an example, because it reminded me of a really fun time I was playing with her and a sock. And then I freaked out because I found this tooth, and I thought I had pulled too hard.
The next day the children bring their summer memories.
Now they have a choice. They need to write about the story that is attached to this object, but they can do it in a number of ways:
1) As a personal narrative
2) As a newspaper article
3) As a poem (not to many children pick this option)
4) As a fiction story
After that we set aside a space in the classroom for our Summer Memory Mueseum.
1) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
My second picture book read aloud is this:
Here's how it starts out:
I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now ther's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Geez! Right away I can relate to everything he said, and it even reminds me of dumber stuff I did (like accidentally put shaving cream on my toothbrush so I could brush my teeth). We've all had bad moments, so it's a great thing to write about. And if we're not the type to cling on to the bad, we have good moments too. So for the second writing pre-assessment I have the kids pick one moment- horrible or excellent- and write about it.