Every March, I devote the entire month to an integrated unit on Ireland. I studied abroad there, so I have a special interest in the country. Ireland is not in the 5th grade curriculum, but I am able to integrate aspects of Irish culture into the curriculum.
One of my favorite parts of this month is when we kiss the Blarney Stone! Persuasive writing is part of the 5th grade curriculum in North Carolina. In order to introduce this concept to my students, we talk about "Blarney Talk." I share with them the history of Blarney Castle in Ireland and the Blarney Stone. It is said that those who kiss the stone are given the gift of gab, or "Blarney Talk." This gift of gab allows someone to talk in such a fashion as to get anyone to do what he or she wants. This is "persuasive talk!"
I kick off our study of this writing by having the kids write persuasive topics on index cards to put in our Blarney Box. I give them examples such as, There should be milkshakes in the cafeteria every day. Or, Kids should have homework every night, including the weekends. They use my examples to develop their own controversial topics for the Blarney Box.
We then get to kiss the Blarney Stone to get the gift of gab! I show them examples of people kissing the real Blarney Stone on Blarney Castle's website. We have a special rock in our room that has our school name etched into it that we use as the Blarney Stone. I have also had students find their own Blarney Stones outside for sanitary reasons. I tell the students that once they kiss the Blarney Stone, they will be able to persuade ANYONE to agree with them. We set up a chair so the students can lean back to kiss the stone like they do at Blarney Castle in Ireland.
After everyone has kissed the stone (I take pictures of each kid, just like a tourist!), the kids pick an index card from the Blarney Box. Using their newly found gift of gab, I have them write on that topic. We post their writing on shamrocks and hang them on our door, which says: We kissed the Blarney Stone and now we have the gift of gab! It is always a popular part of the year!