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December 26, 2013 Ideas for Wrapping Up the Year With Writing By Kriscia Cabral
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    The end of the year is a time to reflect. It is a time to think back, appreciate, and set goals for the new year. Find out how these fun writing lessons do just that.


    I Am From, You Are From

    I started this writing lesson after spending a summer with the San Marcos Writing Project. I also found a similar template and format of the same idea through Scholastic. The opportunity to give students a choice is always a good one!

    I love this lesson for a number of reasons: students get to share about what makes their family so special to them, parents write the most beautiful letters I have ever seen, and both students and parents get to take this opportunity to express their love and appreciation for each other. It is incredible to see how words can move people.


    Here’s what you do:

    • Send home a letter to parents asking them to create a poem for their child. (Feel free to use my sample letter and poem as an example.)

    • Request that parents email their poems back to you. (This makes for easier reprints for your student and parent poem publishing.)

    • Spend at least one writing block of time brainstorming with students a poem that they will write. I use this template as a guide.

    • The next block of writing time, have students write a rough draft of their poem. I use this template and have students tweak it for their own needs.

    • Work with students to edit and make changes if needed. I try to keep the edits minimal. I am more supporting spelling and grammatical errors. Half of the sentimental value is in how a student may word things to their parents as a child of that particular age.

    •  Print or have students write out their poem on publishing paper. The Dollar Tree is a great resource for publishing paper. They carry a huge variety in packs of 24-36 pages for only one dollar! (If you're looking for other deals at a value price, check out Top Teacher Blogger Allie Magnuson's post on low-cost winter holiday crafts.)

    I try to print both the parent and student poems on the same type of paper. I’ve mounted the poems in a number of ways. It depends on when I introduce this project during the school year. This year I did it for the holidays. This same poetry lesson could be used for Mother’s Day, or at the end of the school year. Mount the poems on a colored backing paper, then send the poems home. Another great idea is to have a Poetry Cafe for parents to come in and share the poems they wrote and have students do the same.

    I ask students to take the poems home and have parents read to students and vice versa. It is a special moment to have both voices in the room sharing the love they have for each other. This is one of my favorite ways to close out a year.


    A Time to Reflect . . . and Plan for January

    Before heading off on our break, my students and I talk about New Year’s resolutions. We discuss the reason behind the joy of a New Year and how the opportunity to better ourselves is upon us. Here is a great way to get your students writing about their New Year’s resolutions.

    • Discuss New Year’s with your students. I read Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution to get us started.

    • After sparking student interest, brainstorm ideas on what a resolution could be. I start with a class resolution — we will keep our classroom cleaner. As a class we come up with two resolutions: one for our class to work on at school, and one way we, as a class, can help our world.

    • I then ask students to create three resolutions for themselves: one for school, home, and the world.

    • Students write their resolutions in their notebooks.

    • Students must then come up with a visual to represent each resolution they decide on.

    • Using either the balloon or party hat template, students share their resolutions and pictures.

    • I add strings to the top of the party hats and ends of the balloons. Then I post a “Happy New Year Resolutions!” sign to our classroom bulletin board.

    This is an exciting activity because it gets the kids thinking about what’s to come. I try to introduce the project before the holiday break so that the kids will have something to ponder when New Year’s Day arrives. The craft and resolution writing is definitely a “first day back” activity. The New Year is fresh in their minds and they are eager to share their resolutions.

    Writing is one of my favorite subjects to teach and explore. The feelings and emotions that are shared in word form — there is nothing quite like it. Giving students the opportunity to write freely allows for creative moments that will last always.


    How do you wrap up your holidays with your students? I’d love to hear from you!

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

    See you in the New Year!




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Susan Cheyney