Mother’s Day Writing

mothers day pocket folders

I just finished reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my students, and we spent some time discussing C.S. Lewis’ descriptive sentences. I wanted my students to mimic Lewis’ style in a writing assignment, but I needed a vehicle to make their word choice meaningful. I pulled two passages out of the book and removed key words. I replaced the key words with a blank line and labelled the space with the type of word or part of speech that should go in the blank. Basically, I built a literary Mad Lib.

mothers day mad lib

The students spent some time thinking about their mothers (or another loved one) and brainstormed words to describe that person. Following the brainstorming, they re-read the original passages in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and then plugged words into the frame I gave them to create their own beautiful description with a C.S. Lewis vibe.

We typed the paragraphs, and students added small images that corresponded to details in the descriptive writing. We printed the text and pictures on a piece of cardstock and cut them apart. The students folded a small pocket folder using colored cardstock and decorated the cover. The pictures and small paragraph were no bigger than 3″ x 3″ each and fit nicely in the small pocket card.mothers day writing sample 2Not all of my students are quite finished with this project, but the ones I have read so far make me tear up because they capture such sweet thoughts about a loved one. If you need a thoughtful card or gift for a mother, father, grandparent, sibling… pull a favorite passage from a story and use the basic structure to write a special message.

Pocket Card Materials

  • 8 3/4″ x 7 1/4″ colored cardstock
  • 4″ x 3 1/2″ white cardstock (optional)

mini pocket folder

Pocket Card Directions

  • Place the colored cardstock on a flat surface in the landscape direction.
  • Fold the bottom edge (8 3/4″ edge) up about 2″, match the corners carefully, and press firmly to fold the crease.
  • Open the flap and fold the paper in half, so the two 7 1/4″ edges meet. Match the corners carefully and press firmly to fold the crease.
  • Open the paper flat and fold the 2″ section up creating the pocket. The pocket sides will be open but create a little “shelf” to hold the small pieces of paper. Fold the paper in half down the center fold.
  • If you would like, glue the 4″ x 3 1/2″ white rectangle to the front of the folder as a cover for writing a title or salutation.

Want to try your own literary Mad Lib? Click Author Mad Libs to download a free copy of my activity page. To purchase other Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe activities, CLICK HERE.

mothers day writing sample

 

Spelling Doodle (a fun word work activity)

 

Along with every other 4th grade student, I want to avoid “write the spelling words 3x each” spelling homework. I am actually not against that kind of homework (especially if the students are writing the spelling words in cursive) since I think it builds a motor memory, but we all get bored with it. One new word work activity I am using is a Spelling Doodle.

spelling doodle spelling practice activity #spelling #wordwork

Students use every word on the weekly spelling list to design a word doodle. The challenge is to think of various ways to group the spelling words. Students use a combination of phonics knowledge and word meanings to create word categories. Not only do students practice writing spelling words correctly, they are also activating their knowledge about the ways letters combine to create words, word usage, and definitions of the words.

spelling doodle with list

Give the student a piece of white copy paper and some colored pencils or fun pens. Using all of the spelling words in a list, students create groups of words and label each group with a title. Kids write the words and then add doodles and illustrations to the page to make it colorful and appealing. Talk about the words by sharing the group types. We came up with all kinds of ways to group last week’s words.

spelling doodle medial d soundWhat are good ideas for grouping spelling words?

  • Syllable Count (group by how many syllables a word has)
  • Same Root, Prefix, or Suffix (look for common word parts)
  • Same Spelling Pattern in the Beginning, Middle, or End (look for repeated letter groupings, my SPELLING LISTS are created around a spelling pattern or rule, so my students were not allowed to create one giant grouping for all words on the list)
  • Same Starting, Middle, or End Letter Sound
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Common Situation (look for a way to group words based on an activity like words you might use at a construction site or while going to a movie– this reminded me of games like Taboo)
  • Common Topic (look for words that have a theme like baking or sports)

spelling doodle colored pencils

I told my students they should try to have 2-4 words per grouping, but if they ran out of options at the end, they could create a group that contained only one word as long as they provided a title. We used colored pencils at school, but I got out the Sharpies when I worked on my samples at home. Definitely add color. If you need an alternative to calling out words when studying for a weekly spelling test, give this spelling activity a try. It works in the classroom and at home.

spelling doodle rabbit close

To purchase spelling products based on the most common English spelling rules and patterns, visit my teacher store by CLICKING HERE.

spelling doodle sample

 

Carpool Rules

carpool sign on dashboard

Last spring, around the time parents stop placing the signs with last names in car windshields at carpool, I posted some important etiquette rules for afternoon pick up at school (see original post here). Since most parents of school aged children are in the middle of back to school, I thought it was worth re-posting my carpool etiquette list.

For those of you who missed the first post, I would like to remind you that I am a carpool caller at my school. I have a Madonna microphone and everything. I was not originally selected for this job. My teammate had been tapped for the position and cried when she found out, so I volunteered to take her place. It got me out of the commons area duty which is where the students sit while waiting to be called. I thought the caller job was better. I may have been wrong.

Rule 1: Most schools give signs with the family’s last name, children’s names, or carpool group information clearly written. The sign is supposed to sit on your dashboard somewhere. Keep your sign in the window of your car ALL year round. When your child is not standing next to you, and you are wearing sunglasses, the carpool caller does not know your name or who you are.

Rule 2: Tip the sign up a little when you get within range of the carpool announcer. If it is sunny, and the light is reflecting off the windshield, we can’t read the sign resting on your dashboard. If it is raining, and the windshield is wet, we can’t read the sign resting on your dashboard.

Basically, anything resting flat on the dashboard is hard to read. Tags that hang from the rearview mirror are easy to read. Parents can hang their tag from a clippy hanger and hook it onto the rearview mirror during carpool or write the last name on a door hanger (like the kind hotels have), and it will improve visibility quite a bit.

carpool sign hanging

Rule 3: No extraneous conversation of any kind. The only time you need to talk is to let the caller know who is riding in your car if you don’t have the sign in the windshield (refer back to Rule 1 and please put the sign back in your windshield). Don’t try to ask questions about homework or have a parent/teacher conference with the carpool caller or the loaders. The caller is counting cars. She/he can’t have a parent teacher conference and announce names at the same time. The loaders are trying to get children in seats as quickly as possible to move the whole line forward.

Rule 4: Stay in your assigned slot unless asked to move forward by a faculty member. If you hear the caller announce your child’s name at position 3, or the green cone, or whatever it is at your school, go to that position and wait. If the cars in positions 1 and 2 load and pull away, continue to wait at station 3 unless a teacher waves you forward. If you pull forward thinking you are making room for more cars, you reshuffle all of the students. I am The caller is still down the block calling numbers based on your number 3 position. Once students are lining up at the wrong carpool stations, it slows down the whole system.

Rule 5: Order Remind your child to listen for his/her name while in the “holding” area.

Rule 6: Teach your child to clip a seatbelt. This rule does not apply to nursery school aged children.

Rule 7: Have children practice getting in the car with their belongings a few times.

P.S. Little kids are not ready for giant wheelie backpacks.

If you need help with morning drop off tips, you can read a totally hilarious (not PG) carpool blog post from the Hot Mess Mom’s perspective by clicking here.

What are your carpool pet peeves? Everyone with school aged children has them.