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February 12, 2016

Reviewing the Writing Process With Play-Doh!

By Kriscia Cabral
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    We’ve been back in school from our holiday break for a month now. Students are into the swing of things and learning is happening all around. I wanted to have a quick refresher with my students about the writing process. Here’s a lesson that uses Play-Doh as the writing “tool.” Students go through the process of writing without actually writing. But by connecting the process to an activity they can’t resist, the steps seem to stick much better.

    Brainstorming (7–9 minutes)

    I start by holding up a piece of chart paper titled, “The Writing Process." I ask students if they can recall all of the steps that are in the process. As they discuss the steps amongst themselves, I’m listening and checking in with those who need a bit more support for recall. Many respond with "coming up with ideas," some say "brainstorming," and others volunteer "prewriting." I write the words nice and big on the chart paper. As we complete each step, we come back to my chart paper and discuss the next step, which we then add to "The Writing Process."

    In order to facilitate the brainstorming portion, I pass out blank paper to each student and tell them that we are going to go through the steps of the writing process as a class. I tell them they have seven minutes to brainstorm about . . . Play-Doh. I set the timer (time is of the essence with this lesson) and the kids write as much as they can on the blank paper. Once the time is up, we discuss what comes next.

    Drafting (20 minutes)

    The next step in our writing process is drafting the story. I tell students that the next part of the activity will require them to “draft” their idea with Play-Doh. Each of the students gets one can of Play-Doh to "write" their story. A big part of the drafting process is getting ideas on paper. This means that whatever they are “drafting” needs to be constructed on the paper.

    In order to avoid arguments about which colors go to which students, everyone is prompted to put their head down while I pass out the Play-Doh. We also practice saying “This is just the color I wanted!” so when heads come up, everyone is excited — no matter the color.

    I give kids about 15–20 minutes to “draft” (create) their stories on the paper.

    Revising (about 8–12 minutes)

    For the next step — revising — we meet at the carpet. We talk as a class about the revision process and recall that the most important part of revision is asking the question, How can I make my writing better? For this project, I ask how they can make their Play-Doh creation better. One student asked whether students could share their Play-Doh with each other. I asked the question, "Do you share ideas with each other?” Students got excited and made the connection of yes, we do share ideas in writing and that’s what makes us better.

    Also highlighted during revision time is adding more details and crafting their writing with figurative language and finesse. So, the challenge here is adding the detail and finesse with their Play-Doh creation.

    This is also a time when students give feedback to each other in order to make their creations better. We talked about how you give good feedback by starting first with a positive that you noticed and then sharing a suggestion to improve the creation.

    Editing (about 5–7 minutes)

    During the editing process we review the work to make sure all is neat and tidy. In the writing world that means that capitals and punctuation are present. That means that sentence structure is valid and proper word choice is being used. In the Play-Doh world, that means that all creations are complete and there are no missing pieces. Students are given five additional minutes to do this and then all Play-Doh that is not being used or traded is put back into the can and stored.

    Publishing (about 3–5 minutes)

    The final stage before "publishing" is to give the piece a title. As students think about titles I share with them the three Cs:

    • A Common title is one that tells the reader exactly what the story will be about.

    • A Catchy title is one that may use alliteration or rhyme to catch the reader's attention.

    • A Creative title is one that makes the reader think, “Why would they call it this? It might be a metaphor or simile that relates to the story.

    Students are given just a few minutes to title their piece and "publish" (place) them at the front of the room.

    Students gallery walk around their classmates' creations and say what stands out to them. It could be a title or some specific detail. Students get to take their creations home and share the story with family members. The activity is engaging for students and can be used as a reference often. They tend to not forget the Play-Doh fun they had.

    What comes next?

    Students take this activity and apply it to a real piece of writing they are either working on or just started.

    Do you have any tips on reviewing the writing process with kids? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comment box below.

    Thanks for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    Follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!

    We’ve been back in school from our holiday break for a month now. Students are into the swing of things and learning is happening all around. I wanted to have a quick refresher with my students about the writing process. Here’s a lesson that uses Play-Doh as the writing “tool.” Students go through the process of writing without actually writing. But by connecting the process to an activity they can’t resist, the steps seem to stick much better.

    Brainstorming (7–9 minutes)

    I start by holding up a piece of chart paper titled, “The Writing Process." I ask students if they can recall all of the steps that are in the process. As they discuss the steps amongst themselves, I’m listening and checking in with those who need a bit more support for recall. Many respond with "coming up with ideas," some say "brainstorming," and others volunteer "prewriting." I write the words nice and big on the chart paper. As we complete each step, we come back to my chart paper and discuss the next step, which we then add to "The Writing Process."

    In order to facilitate the brainstorming portion, I pass out blank paper to each student and tell them that we are going to go through the steps of the writing process as a class. I tell them they have seven minutes to brainstorm about . . . Play-Doh. I set the timer (time is of the essence with this lesson) and the kids write as much as they can on the blank paper. Once the time is up, we discuss what comes next.

    Drafting (20 minutes)

    The next step in our writing process is drafting the story. I tell students that the next part of the activity will require them to “draft” their idea with Play-Doh. Each of the students gets one can of Play-Doh to "write" their story. A big part of the drafting process is getting ideas on paper. This means that whatever they are “drafting” needs to be constructed on the paper.

    In order to avoid arguments about which colors go to which students, everyone is prompted to put their head down while I pass out the Play-Doh. We also practice saying “This is just the color I wanted!” so when heads come up, everyone is excited — no matter the color.

    I give kids about 15–20 minutes to “draft” (create) their stories on the paper.

    Revising (about 8–12 minutes)

    For the next step — revising — we meet at the carpet. We talk as a class about the revision process and recall that the most important part of revision is asking the question, How can I make my writing better? For this project, I ask how they can make their Play-Doh creation better. One student asked whether students could share their Play-Doh with each other. I asked the question, "Do you share ideas with each other?” Students got excited and made the connection of yes, we do share ideas in writing and that’s what makes us better.

    Also highlighted during revision time is adding more details and crafting their writing with figurative language and finesse. So, the challenge here is adding the detail and finesse with their Play-Doh creation.

    This is also a time when students give feedback to each other in order to make their creations better. We talked about how you give good feedback by starting first with a positive that you noticed and then sharing a suggestion to improve the creation.

    Editing (about 5–7 minutes)

    During the editing process we review the work to make sure all is neat and tidy. In the writing world that means that capitals and punctuation are present. That means that sentence structure is valid and proper word choice is being used. In the Play-Doh world, that means that all creations are complete and there are no missing pieces. Students are given five additional minutes to do this and then all Play-Doh that is not being used or traded is put back into the can and stored.

    Publishing (about 3–5 minutes)

    The final stage before "publishing" is to give the piece a title. As students think about titles I share with them the three Cs:

    • A Common title is one that tells the reader exactly what the story will be about.

    • A Catchy title is one that may use alliteration or rhyme to catch the reader's attention.

    • A Creative title is one that makes the reader think, “Why would they call it this? It might be a metaphor or simile that relates to the story.

    Students are given just a few minutes to title their piece and "publish" (place) them at the front of the room.

    Students gallery walk around their classmates' creations and say what stands out to them. It could be a title or some specific detail. Students get to take their creations home and share the story with family members. The activity is engaging for students and can be used as a reference often. They tend to not forget the Play-Doh fun they had.

    What comes next?

    Students take this activity and apply it to a real piece of writing they are either working on or just started.

    Do you have any tips on reviewing the writing process with kids? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comment box below.

    Thanks for reading.

    Smiles,

    Kriscia

    Follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!

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