Empowering Writers

May 2014 Lesson of the Month

Spring is in full swing and teachers, parents, and students alike are looking forward to summer! Whether school is nearly out, or you’re in the final two month stretch, May is a month to enjoy. It’s time to engage students in some fun springtime activities that empower them to apply the skills they’ve mastered this year. Our May lesson is perfect for Mother’s Day, but you can use it for Father’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, or as a way of affirming any special person. It involves the use of word referents as a way to affirm that special someone. Here we go, and hats off to Mom…

  1. Ask the class if there’s a May holiday they can think of that celebrates a special person. Hopefully, they’ll think of Mother’s Day. Explain that you’re going to be creating some writing that celebrates Mom, a Grandma, or any other special Mom in their lives. Or, if they prefer, they can think about some other special person – perhaps a neighbor, teacher, or community helper.
  2. Keeping their special person in mind, have the students brainstorm and list some of the characteristics of their special person. You might display the following chart and provide a similar template for them to use. My Mom’s Characteristics Personality Appearance Talents Roles kind redhead piano player wife energetic brown eyes gardener PTA secretary funny tall mac and cheese maker woman loving cool dresser quilter boss smart big smile party planner scientist What She Does for Me gives me hugs drives me to soccer makes my lunch helps me with homework tells me stories reads me stories
  3. Explain that they’ll be combining these ideas to create some “word referents” that describe their special person. Remind them that word referents are combinations of adjectives and nouns that can be used in place of a key word. Have them help you combine adjectives and nouns from the chart that would describe this special mom.
  4. Ex: • kind, energetic redhead • stylishly dressed woman • loving mac and cheese maker • smart, smiling nurse • cheerful homework helper • brown eyed story reader • tall, beautiful hugger • piano playing lunch maker etc.
  5. Have students begin to fill out their special person chart. Circulate and help them, especially when it comes to creating nouns – ex. If the chart says: reads me stories, the noun might become: story reader.
  6. Distribute a large piece of manila construction paper to each child and instruct them to fold it the long way, creating a long narrow card. Have them fill the front of the card with a large detailed illustration of their special person (with younger students, be sure to remind them that the fold belongs on the left, opening on the right so that it opens like a book). They can use crayons, markers, glitter, etc. You might suggest that they include some of their word referent details in their drawing. Have them label the drawing prominently with the special person’s name followed by an ellipse. Ex. MOM…
  7. Inside the card, on the top, have students write: You are my favorite: Have them follow this with a bulleted list of their favorite word referents.
  8. Ask students to include a closing word or phrase that’s appropriate to their relationship with their special person: Love Always, Fondly, Your Friend, etc. followed by their name. If this is for Mother’s Day they can add Happy Mother’s Day before the closing. This writerly gift can become a poignant keepsake for the lucky recipient!