I’m linking up with other bloggers to talk about writing and how important it is in all of our curriculums. The last Wednesday of every month will be dedicated to talking about writing strategies and ideas. This time, I want to highlight how to give opportunity for meaningful writing outside of a set writing time by creatively using role plays and play-based learning.
Both Sweden and the International Baccalaureate focus on play-based learning as essential until at least age 7. At first, I kept asking how I would get my curriculum in and then I realized the key: play-based learning simply gives curriculum a meaningful context.
Here is an example of what this could look like: we set up a fairy tale store role play in our first grade classroom. We wanted to use what they were learning in other times of the day to create meaningful writing opportunities. In their set “writing time” we were explicitely teaching how a story has a beginning, middle, and end, how to fracture a fairy tale, and how to get their ideas down on paper. We first set up a section of the store where they could buy fairy tale books. These were books that were written and illustrated by their classmates. Our book sales were through the roof!
The kids then kept talking about potions and spells and we set up a section of the store where they could write rhyming spells and sell them. Here is an actual student spell:
A spell for flying when you need it the most
Bim bam boom
Fly on a broom
Fim fam foom
now I can fly to the moon.
Suddenly, they were playing with rhymes (and almost rhymes) and writing spells faster than they could sell them to each other. I even heard these spells being “used” at recess. We then set up a potion station so they could play with capacity and writing. They started measuring in teaspoons and milliliters and creating terrifying potions that involved dragon claws, and mud from between your toes! Again, they loved it and we saw them beggging to get more writing time to create longer fairy tales, more spells, and more terrifying potions.
With emergent writers, we want them to write (and write a lot) so that they become more comfortable with the process. Their spelling and handwriting also improved dramatically because they wanted to sell their products and we all know that a good product should be neat and readable.
Feel free to check out both the fairy tale store role play and the dinosaur museum in my store. They are both role plays that have lots of built in writing for emergent writers.
Also check out these other great resources for Writing Wednesday from other teacher bloggers.