If there was one thing my own children had at age 5 it was strong opinions. My son Glenn (who today is a fashion designer designing high-end jeans for the Ralph Lauren RRL brand) knew exactly what clothes he preferred to wear to school. I should have known he’d become a collector of Vintage workwear when he insisted on only wearing denim overalls and long sleeved flannel plaid shirts to kindergarten – regardless of the temperature or time of year.
These little ones hold all kinds of adamant views, have their own unique point of view on a wide range of issues, and generally have little problem making their preferences known. What’s a little trickier is getting them beyond the straight-forward, insistent opinion: “No, I don’t want to!” and inching them toward the reasons that inform their opinions.
A great way to encourage this is to take a classroom poll – pose a question: Ex.
How many prefer indoor to outdoor recess? Or…
How many prefer burgers to pizza? Or…
Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Tally their opinions on a piece of chart paper and then ask individuals WHY they prefer one to the other. Chart their reasons beneath their position using the Simplified Opinion Pillar (download pdf, below). This provides a visual representation of the relationship between an opinion and the supporting reasons. This simple graphic organizer can be used to chart reasons every time students express an opinion – about a class issue, a favorite book, season, holiday, food or activity. As you use this helpful tool, be sure to use the vocabulary of opinion, familiarizing students with words such as point of view, preference, pro and con, in favor of, against. Here is a list of “sentence starters” that students can be encouraged to use verbally, and when ready, in writing!
Sentence starters for opinion writing:
I like _____ I dislike _____ I’m pro _____ I’m con _____
I’m in favor of _____ I’m against _____ In my opinion, _____
I enjoy _____ I detest _____
Also, pairing these phrases with the word because is critical!