Skill Focus: Remembering the steps of opinion writing
What to Do: A good opinion piece does three things: states the opinion clearly, supports it with reasons, and wraps up the argument. To help students remember these steps, make a sample Opinion Sandwich and then have them build their own. You’ll need two square pieces of white construction paper (approximately 5 x 5 inches). These will be your “bread.” Next, cut out one red circle for “lunch meat” and a small yellow square for “cheese,” and tear a piece of green paper to make “lettuce.” Then, have students write their opinion statement on one of the pieces of bread and their supporting reasons on the lunch meat, cheese, and lettuce. Finally, have them write a conclusion on the second piece of bread. Stack the sandwich and clip it together for future reference.
Top 10 List
Skill Focus: Using reasons to support an opinion
What to Do: As a group, brainstorm some words or phrases that are persuasive. Discuss how certain words might appeal to certain audiences. For example, the words silly or cartoon might be more inviting to a kid than to an adult. Have students pick a movie or book they’ve enjoyed. Next, invite them to write a top 10 list of the reasons other people should read the book or watch the movie. Encourage them
to use persuasive words. Explain to students that facts can also be a good persuasive tool. For instance, if they are trying to convince someone to watch a documentary, they could write, You will learn interesting facts about elephants as one of their top 10 reasons. When students are finished, have them take turns reading their lists aloud.
Simon Says, “It’s a Fact”
Skill Focus: Determining if something is fact or opinion
What to Do: Explain to students that a fact is something that can be proved or tested, and an opinion is something someone feels or thinks about a subject. Have students practice determining which is which by playing a variation of Simon Says. Ask students to sit on the floor in a circle, and model alternately giving statements that are fact and opinion. For example, “Simon says, ‘Today is Tuesday.’” Or “Simon says, ‘Tuesday is the best day of the week.’” If the statement is true, students should stand up. If the statement is an opinion, students should remain seated. If there is confusion about a statement, stop and discuss whether it can be tested or proved. Afterward, have the students write their own sets of five facts and five opinions (each on a note card). Collect and shuffle the cards. Play the game another day using their cards.
What Do You See?
Skill Focus: Understanding that an opinion is not something that can be proved
What to Do: Read the book Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. Talk about how people can look at the same thing and have different opinions and that neither is right nor wrong. Next, draw an ambiguous shape, such as the rabbit/duck from the book or an ink splat or a shape that could resemble many things; give each child a copy. Invite students to draw a picture using the shape and write, It’s a _______! underneath. You can also conduct an experiment with other classes where your students show a scene from the book and ask their peers what they see: a duck or a rabbit? Create a graph to show the results. To extend the learning, explore books such as Amazing Optical Illusions, and then have students draw their own illusions.
My Two Cents
Skill Focus: Stating an opinion
What to Do: Have students make a circle. They can be seated or standing. Begin the game by stating an opinion to the person to your right. That person must then state a different opinion to the person to the right of him or her. (It doesn’t have to be about the same topic.) The next person would then give a new opinion. Continue around the circle until everyone has had an opportunity to “give their two cents.” Variation or extension: Read the book Too Pickley! by Jean Reidy. Next, invite students to write about their least favorite food. Have them give four reasons why a certain food is the worst. For example, Swiss cheese has too many holes, or Broccoli is too green. Put their opinions into a class book, “The Eww Review.”
Skill Focus: Using reasons to support an opinion
What to Do: For this activity, each student will need three jumbo wooden craft sticks, glue, markers, scissors, a piece of yarn or string, and a piece of construction paper (use various colors). Before beginning, discuss as a group how when writing an opinion piece you must provide reasons for your opinion. Next, have students glue the sticks together so they form a triangle. Tell them to cut a paper triangle that will fit inside the stick triangle. Tell students to write an opinion on the inside of the paper triangle. For example: Winter is the best season. Then, have them write a supporting reason on each stick. For example: There are snow days. I get to go sledding. I can drink hot chocolate. After they’ve glued the paper triangle to the wooden one, tie a piece of string to it and hang the opinion mobiles from the classroom ceiling. Point out how each side of the triangle (or reason) helps to support the opinion.