Category Archives: How To Writing

Adrienne’s OLLI (Online Learning Lesson Idea) #4 – Everybody Needs a Rock

Hello everyone!  Hope you all had a restful weekend and were able to celebrate all the great moms out there!   I know some districts and provinces are in the process of gradually returning to modified versions of “in person teaching” but many are still trying to determine what that looks like.  No matter what your teaching situation is at the moment, I am sending you positive thoughts and energy!

Many of you have been using my OLLI – “Online Learning Lesson Ideas“.  (You can see my first OLLI HERE and second HERE.  Last week, I shared a “How To” lesson connected to Mother’s Day.  You can see that lesson HERE.

This week, I’m excited to share “Everybody Needs A Rock” by Byrd Baylor,  one of my favorite books, (yes, I say that a lot!) with your students.  This book and lesson invites students on a wonderful “outdoor” activity, as well as an act of community kindness!

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I love rocks.  I love their feel, their color pallet, their smell, their spirit.   Rocks are magical – each has its own history; its own journey; its own story.    Like snowflakes, no two rocks are the same.  But unlike snowflakes, rocks can be held, saved, and collected.  I collect them wherever I am at a beach.  I have pebbles from Spanish Banks, Haida Gwaii, Horby Island,  Mayne Island, the Sunshine Coast, Quadra Island, Saltspring Island, Hernando Island, and many other West Coast beaches.

Some people have certain rocks that they are always on the lookout for.  My mum loved striped pebbles.  She called them “Licorice All-Stones”.

Striped beach rocks | Etsy

Others are on the lookout for speckled pebbles.  Size and shape matter less to collectors than those splattered speckles.

Pacific Ocean Speckled Stones Round Conglomerate Spotted | Etsy

My childhood friend’s mother collected “wish rocks” – grey rocks with a single white line circling the center.  She said they were good luck.  The thicker the white stripe, the better chances of your wish coming true.

Wish rocks | Etsy

Another friend of mine loves searching for heart-shaped rocks.  These are harder to find, but when you find one, it is like discovering a hidden treasure.

Common Beach Stone Identification (Including Dolomite, Quartz ...

Me – I am a collector of smooth, shiny, flat stones that fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.  There is something comforting about these rocks to me.  Something sacred.

Highly Polished Slate-Black Fire Stones | Stone Decorative

Because of my love of rocks, this week’s anchor book Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor is special to me. (Can you say connections?) It was first published in 1974, and while the black and white drawings may not grab you initially, I guarantee the engaging, fresh voice of the narrator certainly will.   The story outlines ten simple, but important rules to finding the perfect rock and inspires the reader to follow the rules and go out to find their own special rock.

Everybody Needs A Rock Rules:

      1.  Find your rock anywhere.

      2. Shhhhhh… choose a rock quietly.

      3. Look at your rock eye to eye.

      4. Don’t choose a rock that’s too big.

      5. Don’t choose a rock that’s too small.

      6. Choose a rock that fits into your hand.

      7. Look for the perfect color.

      8. Choose a rock that has an interesting shape.

      9. Sniff your rock. (they all smell different!)

      10. Don’t ask for help.  You can do this all by yourself.

The other thing I like about this book is that, while it can certainly be read literally about the joys of hunting for rocks, following ten tips, and finding one that you want to save, there is also the underlying idea that everyone needs something solid to hold onto during challenging times. A rather timely book, wouldn’t you say?    It is also a gentle reminder to time to notice and connect to nature and to the things that really matter.

Watch the Youtube Read Aloud here:


After the students watch and listen to the story, invite your students to use these rules to go rock hunting this week.  They can do this in their yard, at a local park, or perhaps on an outing with their parents.  Encourage them to follow the 10 rules to find their special rock (they can download the rules so they don’t forget!)

After they find their perfect rock, they can draw and color a detailed picture and write about their rock finding experience – where they found it, why they picked it, etc.

Here is the Ten Rules Template (students can use this when searching for their rocks and also add their own rule!)

Here is the Primary Template

Here is the Intermediate Template

Lesson Extension – The “Giving Back” Rock

(Thank you, Cheryl, for this wonderful idea!!)

During our morning runs since the city shut down in March, my friend Cheryl and I have noticed painted rocks with lovely messages placed under trees along the trails.  Each time we run, in fact, we notice more and more of these cheerful, encouraging rocks.

Today: Rotary Trail RocksMessages on rocks help one neighborhood cope with coronavirus ...Steven Bright's tweet - "⁦@ronald_cohn⁩ ... someone in Oakville is ...

To extend this lesson, why not encourage students to find a second special rock to paint and leave somewhere in their neighborhood to brighten up someone’s day.  This “Giving Back” rock can be something the students paint at home, perhaps with their family.  They could drop off the rock on a neighbour’s porch or yard, or find a spot in a local park to leave it.  Younger students will likely need some help with the painting and planting of this special rock but I could see this being an activity the entire family could get involved in.  Invite your students to take photos of their sharing rock where they leave it in the neighbourhood.

Here is the “Giving Back Rock” template for Primary

Here is the “Giving Back Rock” template for Intermediate

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week, everyone!  You are doing a great job!

Happy Rock Hunting!

Check out more writing lessons in my new book, Powerful Writing Structures 

See you soon for more OLLI posts!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under How To Writing, Lesson Ideas, Links to content, OLLI, Read-Aloud, Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? “How To” Books for “How To” Writing

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Sometimes the discovery of a new book leads me to making many connections to other books and that sparks me to want to make a new blog post!  Such is the case for this week’s post – focusing on books written as “How To’s”, inspired by the new book The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog by Paul B. Janeczko.

One of the tendencies for students writing instructions is including too many words:  “First, you have to ….”  When teaching “How To” Writing – I tell students to follow the S.A.D. FormulaSequence word, Action word, Detail.  For example, First, (sequence word) squeeze (action word) a little toothpaste on the bristles (detail).  If you don’t follow the S.A.D. formula, your reader will be SAD because they won’t know what to do!

While it is important to learn how to write realistic “how to’s”, I also love to invite students to add a little creativity and imagination to their instructional writing.  The following are books to inspire creative “How To” writing.

Image result for the proper way to meet a hedgehog

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog Paul B. Janeczko

This delightful collection of “How To” poems, from practical (how to mix a pancake or how to bird-watch) or fanciful (how to scare monsters or how to be a snowflake) are written by a collection of amazing writers including Kwame Alexander, Ralph Fletcher, Karla Kushkin, and Douglas Florian.   There is creativity, gratitude, and joy in these poems and the soft, watercolor illustrations make it delightful to look at.  Love this brand new book!

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How to Give Your Cat a Bath: In Five Easy Steps Nicola Winstanley

Laugh out loud, hilarious new “how to” book features a little girl, a know-it-all narrator, and a cat who refuses to take a bath.  This book will have your students cracking up and would inspire a lot of funny “how to’s” in your class!

How To Be – Lisa Brown

I LOVE this charming book and have used it as an anchor book for many writing lessons.  Simple instructions on how to be various animals, written in a clear “how to” format.  Added clever bonus is that it doubles as instructions on how to be a person – brave, clever, friendly, curious, and charming.  Delightful illustrations.

Writing Idea – students write about an animal they researched in a “how to” instructions format.  Include diet, habitat, behavior, special skills, enemies and a human character trait.

Live___________,  Eat____________,  Catch _________________,  Fly______________, Swim_______________, Beware___________, Be _________________  and _______________________

How to lose your friends

How To Lose All Your Friends – Nancy Carlson

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek “how to” guide to loosing your friends.  Lots of connections to the child-like behaviors Carlson describes:”Be a bad sport – When someone touches you playing tag, lie and say they missed” (LOL!)  This is a great book to use at the beginning of the year.  I like to have the class ‘re-write” the instructions, focusing on positive behaviors –  “How to Keep Your Friends”.

how to read a story

How to Read a Story – Kate Messner

Step One: Find a story. (A good one.)
Step Two: Find a reading buddy. (Someone nice.)
Step Three: Find a reading spot. (Couches are cozy.)
Now: Begin.

Delightful book to encourage reading and sharing, with the steps on how to read a book to a friend.  Simple but effective reminders to use expression, make predictions and read with feeling.

Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle Chris Raschka

A young girl provides step by step instructions to learn to ride a bicycle…complete with some falls and lots of practice and determination…but ultimately with success!
Could be used to discuss determination or to discuss growth mindset.  Signature Chris Raschka watercolor illustrations.

The Astronaut Handbook – Meghan McCarthy

Delightful guide to becoming an astronaut.  Interesting and entertaining, full of fascinating facts and adorable illustrations. (Kids are particularly fascinated by bathroom instructions!)  Back notes provide more detailed information about space life.  Fun read-aloud and great anchor for writing “How To Become” with different occupations.

things to do

Things to Do – Elaine Magliaro

 Things to Do If You Are A Honeybee

    Flit among flowers

    Sip nectar for hours

    Be yellow and fuzzy.

    Stay busy.  Be buzzy. 

I remember being surprised by how much I loved this book when I first read it.  Whimsical  illustrations and gorgeous, rhyming text.  This book is really a collection of poems focusing on the small moments and secret joys of a child’s day, including animals and insects they encounter.  This book is delightful invitation to write!

eddie ready

Eddie Gets Ready for School David Milgrim

Morning routines are different for everyone, including Eddie!  While Eddie’s check-list says one thing, the illustrations tell a different story!  Fun read aloud and perfect anchor book for younger writers to write their own “How to Get Ready for School” (or hockey practice, swimming lessons, soccer game) instructions.

How to Teach a Slug to Read – Susan Pearson

Clever, witty, delightful, useful and engaging – full of practical advice for teaching slugs (and human kids) to read.  Adorable illustrations and hilarious “sluggish” titles and slug-related stories (think Little Miss Muffet with a slug instead of a spider!)

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How to Make Friends with a Ghost – Rebecca Green

A great book to share at Halloween but with a universal story of friendship and kindness, it could be read anytime.  A whimsical story about ghost care, this story is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and written in lovely “how to” format.

How to Read a Book – Kwame Alexander

This book will not be released until June, but I’m so excited about it, I just had to include it!  Created by the dream team of extraordinary poet Kwame Alexander and collage-style illustrations of Melissa Sweet –  this ode to reading is a must have for me!  “Once you’re comfy, peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine…Next, put your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and POP the words out.”   Squeeeee, can you stand it?

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you found a book that caught your eye!

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Filed under 2019 releases, How To Writing, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Poetry, Read-Aloud, Writing Anchors