Saturday, October 26, 2013

A fall post to our families I wanted to share with you about enhancing science and writing in the fall

We have been doing an illustrator study in our Writing Block and we are encouraging our students to add detail to their pictures in their books they are creating.  We are also teaching into using our popcorn words and patterns to create books about their experiences at the Pumpkin Patch.  Pattern books repeat on each page and only one word changes (level A books).  An example would be as follows:

I see the turtle.


I see the seeds.


I see the leaves.

I see the tractor.

I see the vine.

I see the pumpkin.

The students are creating books like these to strengthen their knowledge of using patterns to help become better readers and writers.  They are really enjoying this unit!  This is another reason why helping your child learn their popcorn words is so critically important so please work with them several times each week on mastering these words!
Another way we are using the fall season to help them understand concepts in science and in writing is by using fall items to study and examine objects in nature like a scientist and then documenting or illustrating what they see/observe.  This makes the student study an object in detail and then try to record what they see by drawing it.  This encourages the student to use their five senses when studying the object which causes them to illustrate or record their observations in greater detail.  This will strengthen their use of descriptive words (adjectives and adverbs) when they reach first and second grade.  Building strong writers means letting them record their world.  When the student can draw in great detail they can recall things they want to tell the reader in their writing and this leads to more descriptive and more detailed sentences, essays and stories as they progress through their writing studies.  Here are some of the examples of our young scientists/illustrators/authors at work.  Please do this at home with any type of items they are interested in (lego's, leaves, buildings, tractors, flowers).  The subject matter does not make a difference, practicing recording what they are observing and enjoying it is critical in developing students that love to write!  Encourage them to label their writing by trying to write the first letter of the object, sounding out the word (don't worry about it being spelled correctly, just having them write down the sounds they hear) or have them make writers marks (scribbles that represent each word they want to write).  The goal is to get them to write and understand that the letters/words/writers marks help the reader understand what they are trying to convey.  This should be a pleasant and fun experience so don't worry about correct spelling yet.  They are really working on letter sounds and blending so even just coming up with one letter in each word they want to write is a positive step in the right direction.  We hope these pictures will help you do this at home.  It will strengthen their writing and keep them occupied!  Double bonus!
This student is drawing in pencil first so they can erase any mistakes they make.  He will then go back with crayons, markers or colored pencils to add the details such as colors and shading.

This student is not confident that they can draw the shape of the gourd so they are tracing the shape and then they will go back and add detail and colors.

This child is trying to record their observations independently.

These students are working together and drawing multiple objects on one page.

These students are studying their objects closely and trying to capture what they see by using different colors.

This child is working more toward telling a story in their illustrations.  They have added seeds to show the life cycle of the pumpkin.  They are also recording the fact that pumpkins can be different shapes, sizes and colors.

This child wanted to study the sunflower.  The seeds were falling out and you can see that she noticed the sunflower was not yellow.  She also recorded the stalk and leaves in her illustration.  She used a magnifying glass to study the sunflower in great detail.

This child is starting to use letters to form words to add more detail to his drawing.  He also wanted to tape on an actual seed to give the reader a real object to compare to his drawing.  He used labeling (see the arrow) and is trying to convey meaning to the reader by attempting to record his thoughts in sentence form.  He remembered from our illustrator study that he could draw several illustrations on one page.  He is showing the life cycle of the sunflower on this page.

Here he is closely studying the seeds and recording his observations.

Ms. Arrendale found a turtle shell on a nature walk with her niece and nephews during a trip to the country and brought it back to class.  Many of the students were very interested in the turtles at the Pumpkin Patch.  This student used a picture of the turtle (earlier in the post) and the actual turtle shell to add greater detail to his pictures about his experience with the turtles at the Pumpkin Patch.  Using pictures is another great way to have your child record their thoughts and observations during vacations and breaks.  We take a lot of pictures to help the students remember details so they can become stronger writers and authors.

This child is standing back and admiring his work.  He spent a lot of time working on his illustration and really studied his object (the taller pumpkin).  He was very proud of his work.
This student also added additional characters to his illustration as he recalled his experience at the Pumpkin Patch.  He wanted the reader to know that he and his friends found pumpkins in the garden at the Pumpkin Patch.  Having the real object available enabled him to recall more detail about his field trip and helped him to add more detail to his illustration.