Empowering Writers

December 2013 Lesson of the Month

Warm holiday greetings from Barb, Dea, and the entire EW team! We know you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, and trying to keep a million balls in the air. So, how about a lesson of the month that includes it all – holiday cheer, a fun art connection, and solid instructional value that will enhance student writing? This lesson, taken from Easy Art Activities that Spark Super Writing, involves the creation of a gingerbread house and an elaborative detail lesson that will impress! Students can bring home their sweet creations to grace their family holiday décor…

For many students thinking in the abstract is difficult. Having something concrete to refer to when describing a story critical character, setting, or object is extremely helpful. In the downloadable lesson here, students create a three-dimensional gingerbread house – not only is it fun, and helpful, but it allows you to hold them accountable to a much greater level of detail in their writing. For example, if they trimmed the roofline in gum drops, they need to include that. If their roof was shingles with almond slices, the reader needs to be able to visualize that.

An interesting twist on this or any elaborative detail lesson is to have students place their artwork on one side of the room and their descriptions on the other. Have another teacher or older student come in – their job is to match the description with the corresponding piece of art. If they can’t do it, that means the description wasn’t vivid enough!

Of course, if you’re not up to having kids build the gingerbread houses, they can draw and decorate them on construction paper instead. Another option is to have them find images online, download them and use them as the reference point of their description. Everything you need to complete this lesson appears in the downloadable plan! Enjoy!