Work on Writing: Using Drawings, Food, and Our Five Senses to Add Details to Our Writing

One of the first things I taught my firsties to do as we set up our work on writing notebooks is start with an illustration. 
Think of something you want to write about.
 Make a mental picture.
 Do a quick pencil drawing on a square of white paper. 
It's a form of brainstorming.

At the very beginning of the year, most of my class writes one sentence and considers themselves done.
I beg to differ. 

This is where the drawing comes in handy. We compare/contrast the drawing with our writing. Here's a typical conversation from the first week or two of school. 
"Please read me your sentence."
"I have a dog."
"That's an awesome sentence. I see you remembered to start it with a capital letter. Let me look at your drawing. I notice in your drawing your dog has spots."
"Oh ya, my dog is white with lots of black spots."
"That is a detail you can add to your writing. Try adding a sentence about your dog's spots. I love when students add details to their writing." 

Over and over we talk about if our drawing matches our writing and vice versa. We use the drawing to add details to our writing. And, if we think of a detail to add that is not already in the drawing, we write it and then we add it to our drawing. 
This is how we wrote while launching Daily 5: Work on Writing.

I know. I know. It sounds like a lot for the very beginning of the year, but I'm a jump "write" in and try it kinda teacher. 

Currently we are in our fourth week of school. Last week in science (or was it the week before?) we learned about our five senses in science, so I decided to incorporate that into our writing lesson when we learned about adding labels to our drawings. 

The five senses make me think of food. So Monday I did a quick drawing of a cupcake. The drawing is in black and white. It always starts that way. Then I made a mental image and went about adding labels to the cupcake as the kiddos reviewed for me our five senses. 

Looks like: pink icing, colorful sprinkles, cherry on top, blue wrapper
Feels like: soft, warm fluffy cake with sticky, squishy icing
Smells like: sweet, sugary, strawberry
Tastes like: sweet, sugary, strawberry, strawberry filling in the middle, delicious
Sounds like: My class decided cupcakes do not make noise, so we skipped it. You could label what you sound like when you eat it :-)

Then the kiddos hurried to their desks to make their own mental images about food. One student drew pizza. A few drew donuts. There was a pie and a few cakes too. One little guy drew an ice cream cone. And some friends drew a cupcake very similar to mine. We added our labels and saved our work for the next day. 

Tuesday I demonstrated how I used my labels to help me add details to my writing. You may notice I color coded each label with where that detail is in my writing. I did this for demonstration purposes, but it couldn't hurt for the kids to try it a few times as it provides a visual connection between the drawing and the writing. 

We always go back and color our drawings at the very end. 

Today we did some interactive work on writing. We used real mini cupcakes!

My firsties had so much fun completing this writing activity!

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