This has been a year of let-it-go moments. You may have found yourself omitting celebrations. Writing units may have been shortened. The joy of writing was likely hard to find at times among the restrictions, distance, and numerous changes. If you find yourself among the last days or weeks of the school year, you may be longing for something you feel you missed.
Today I’m sharing some quick and easy ideas for celebrations, shared writing challenges, and more.
What to do: Get out the sidewalk chalk and have a little #chalkabration celebration on your school sidewalks, blacktop, or even some black paper. If students are learning from home, driveways are a perfect place to celebrate writing. Students can take a favorite line from a recent piece or publish a poem from their notebook and write it for all to see. Younger students may enjoy illustrating a favorite poem or classroom collaborative poem.
Time Commitment: Fifteen-Twenty minutes
Materials: Chalk and some writing to share
Pass a Poem
What to do: With older students, in a small group, write a line of poetry or a partial line and pass to the next person to create a small group collaborative poem. Students can also do this style of poetry on a shared document from a distance.
When all the lines are written, as a group, make revision decisions, addition/deletions, and polish up the poem. With younger writers, use this as an opportunity to share an interactive writing experience with poetry. Choose a topic and have students pass the marker to add a word or phrase with teacher support. Sticky notes also work when you want to avoid sharing tools.
Time Commitment: Fifteen-Forty Minutes
Materials: Paper, marker or pen
Graffiti-Style Memory Wall
What to do:
- Grab some paper off the paper roll on your way to your classroom.
- Put some markers in a cup near the paper after attaching it to a bulletin board or wall. If you don’t have paper on a roll at your school, a whiteboard works too.
- Take a picture when students are finished to capture the celebration.
Throughout the day, as students have a free moment, they can write a short response to a memory-style prompt, share a take-away from the school year, or craft a message for their classmates.
Time Commitment: As much or as little as you like.
Materials: Large piece of paper and markers
Write a Wonder
What to do: Check out the wonder of the day at Wonderopolis as a mentor text. As a class–with younger students or in small groups/online break-out rooms, older students create a Wonderopolis entry. What is something from this year you could define? What wonder might someone have about the school year of 2020-2021? Write an entry to inform a future wonderer.
Time Commitment: Fifteen-Thirty Minutes
Materials: Chart paper and markers with young writers or notebooks and pens with older writers
Summer Writing Wishes
What to do: Give students a piece of paper and ask them to draw a picture of themselves in a wishful favorite writing spot. Students can write a description below their illustration. With younger students, you might create a class book using a pattern like “I like to write in my _________ with ______.” For older students, you could have them think of a way to describe their writing wish spot using a simile “My writing spot should be as cozy as a comforter.” As students finish their illustrations and descriptions, talk and share how to make these writing wishes a reality. What do students need to make their writing wish come true?
Time Commitment: Twenty-Thirty Minutes
Materials: Paper, writing tools, and coloring tools
How LONG Can You Write Challenge
What to do: Get plenty of paper and make sure the pens are ready to go. Set a timer for ten minutes and have students write, write, write. The goal is to write normal-sized letters, appropriate for the age group, but all the way down the page and then some. Sometimes reading a story can be a nice starter to get some ideas flowing as students make connections.
After the timer dings, take turns adding students’ page(s) with tape to make a “snake” of a story down your hallway. SEVERAL YEARS AGO, when I did this activity with my third graders, they were pumped to see the length of just ten minutes of writing.
Time Commitment: Twenty-Thirty Minutes
Materials: Paper, writing tools, and tape
Sometimes we just need a little reminder to pause and find some joy in what we do. I’m hoping to do that often over the next few days with my remote kindergarten students. We already have a lot of fun together, but my goal is to create joyful learning experiences that live as memories well beyond the end of school.
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.