Wednesday, July 22, 2020

10 Back-to-School Writing Activities Kids Grades 4-9 Will Love

As students come back to school (ELA in particular), you have three wishes: 1) You want them to like your class and look forward to the year with you. 2) You want them to get acquainted with you and each other respectfully. 3) You want them to be ready to read & write without whining! These 10 writing ideas are going to help your three wishes to come true.
1. Two Truths and a Lie Ice Breaker: This is just a quick writing activity and it's more about easing them into a new class than the writing itself. But, they write two truths and one lie about themselves. For example, "I can play guitar," "I have been skydiving," "I have four dogs and a cat," etc. When it's their turn, in no particular order, they say their two truths and a lie. (They should actually mix up the order). Then, you go around the room and either 1) have everyone say their guess for which one is the lie, or 2) only have volunteers say which one is a lie. After that, the student reveals what things were true and what things were lies. For distance learning, you can do this in a meeting or have some way for students to post them and comment or vote.

2. Compare-and-Contrast This Past Summer to the Last: It occurred to me that this summer was probably a lot different than last summer for most students. And who knows how many vacays got cancelled! Anyway, it was a lightbulb moment for me thinking how they could write a compare-and-contrast essay about this past summer compared to the year before! So, I wrote up a free guided step-by-step printable (& made Google Slides) that holds their hand from coming up with ideas, to filling out a choice of graphic organizers that are included, to the finished product. I mean you don't technically need it, but it will really help you and them a lot! Get yours here.

3. Write a Limerick About Yourself: This is a great way to have students introduce themselves in a very lighthearted, silly way while practicing rhyme, meter, and rhythm! Again, I made a guided printable (& Google Slides) that takes them from how to do it, samples, brainstorming, and then writing. It's free so get yours today. Again, you don't need it, but it will make life easier.

Here's one I made up this morning:

There was a sweet woman named Katie
She was a most beautiful lady
But her moods were unreal
We were like, "What is her deal?"
But then she chilled out at age eighty.

4. Write a 5 Senses Concrete Imagery Poem: This gets them to write about a summer memory, a topic they enjoy, and gets them to practice using concrete imagery by having them think in sensory terms. In the past, I had them use stationary I provided just to jazz them up and add some flair, so I included some stationary papers, samples of poems done, and step-by-step guidance in my free lesson made in PDF and Google Slides. Here's a sample:

5. An Autobiography Block: Recently, I made a biography block lesson for students to present what they learned about someone they read about. There are six sides to display information and then a small symbolic item can go inside. So, this is similar except the students present themselves. I made a free lesson for them to create it (template and rubric included) to create: Side 1) Stats about your age, birthday, birth place, etc. and portrait, Side 2) Some info about and a picture of your family, 3) Your hobbies, 4) Clothing that represents you, 5) A house or dwelling that represents you, 6) Your favorite things or a map of where you've lived. And a small symbolic item goes inside. Get your free lesson with template and rubric.

6. Fingerprint Writing: This one is not my lesson, but I saw it and wanted to share it. It looks really good! Students write about themselves on a large fingerprint with lines on it that looks really cool. I want to display it, but I don't think that's allowed.

7. Writing About Me Sym-bol-i-cal-ly: This is a free writing and art combo lesson, though you could leave out the art portion of it and call it a day. Below is a sample, and then you can look at a bunch more student samples on my blog post "Writing Figuratively About Yourself Using Similes and Symbols at Home or Distance Learning." (Is this a cry for help showing I need to figure out how to shorten my blog post titles? Help!) Go check out the free lesson.
8. Writing About Me With Hy-per-bo-le: This is a free writing explanatory, informative text about yourself but adding hyperbole to it to make it really funny and obviously exaggerated.  Here is a sample I wrote, or just get the free lesson that has the step-by-step guided writing printable and access to Google Slides. It is a quick, fun writing activity that gets students acquainted in a silly, non-scary way. And it requires writing skills, so there you go! Go get yours.

Katie the Incredible Rollerblader
       I am so good at rollerblading. When I rollerblade, crowds of people gather around just to see my impressive skills. You can hear people getting on their cell phones to say, “Dude, you gotta get over here and see the most amazing rollerblader I have ever seen!” People beg me for my autograph like I am a movie star or something. I am so fast, it is as if there are engines in each one of my rollerbladesI am like a jet. I even had a race with a sports car one time and I won - easily. Not only am I fast, but I can do awesome tricks. I can jump over just about any obstacle: cars, mailboxes, people, you name it. I once jumped over a tree! And flips are no problem. I make flips look so easy, it is like I am coin being tossed in the air during a coin toss. I jump up so high and do about 15 flips on the way down. And don’t even get me started on how many laps I can do at the roller rink. I can do about 1,000 laps around the roller rink in one minute. I truly am the best rollerblader on the entire planet!

9. Create-a-Critter Explanatory Writing Activity: Again, I will refer you to the free lesson and the blog post that has samples, but in a nutshell, students think of an animal that doesn't exist such as a hybrid like the jaccoon" I made up jaguar and raccoon Combo) and draw a picture of it. Then they describe what it looks like using their best descriptive writing skills . Then someone takes the description and tries to draw it based on that. Then, they do a comparison. You can do it, or just get my free lesson in PDF or Google Slides that does most of the work for you. To the left are samples: a jaccoon, a mooda, and a durtle. 

By the way, there is an alternate version "Create a Dog" which is the same but is all about dogs.

10. What's In My Head: I've used this head template for so many lessons such as having students examine a character's thoughts and feelings, or saying what they learned at the end of the school year, and now they can use it for back to school writing to examine their thoughts and feelings, and let others see them to get to know each other. Here is a sample of one Anne Frank and a teen, but you would have them fill it in based on their own heads! Check out the blog post with ideas and template.


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