Monday, 5 August 2013

Engaging literacy lessons

I have my share of reluctant writers so am always looking for ways to engage them, particularly in writing activities. 

My latest attempt was using an Oliver Jeffers new release "The Day the Crayons Quit". Duncan, the main character, receives resignation letters from all of his crayons. Each page contains one letter, plenty of artwork and lots of inspiration for children's writing. It was hard to choose my favourite but who can't love the idea of a crayon complaining that it was naked...

Day 1: 

I read the book to the class to gauge engagement with the book. There was plenty of laughter and a lots of conversation about which crayon letter was their personal favourite. 

Day 2: 
Quick recall of the story from the class and I read my favourite couple of letters.
We brainstormed some of the words that we thought were repeated too often. I was searching for something to run a synonym based lesson. Amongst many words we settled on Dear (as in the beginning of a letter), Quit, Reason and Friend.
Everyone then used whatever they could to find synonyms for these 4 words & record them on a word wheel.
Shared all the words with the class. Totally impressed by words such as abdicate, discharge, associate and acquaintance.
The class then set out to create their own resignation letter to themselves, the kids have written a number of letters & the aim of the lesson was the investigation of synonyms so not much emphasis was put on the structure. I gave them a piece of A3 newsprint and let them choose their own crayon.
In 20 minutes even my most reluctant writers had produced a draft letter, with original ideas, interesting vocab and a smile on their face. SUCCESS. 

Day 3
We published the letters, produced our own envelopes, created a letterbox for the school and finished the activity.

There are plenty of other literacy lessons that could be built around this book, maybe next time.

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