Word choice is one writing trait that students can learn through wonderful mentor texts, and there is a plethora of books you can use. Today, I’ll be sharing my favorite choices and why I love them as well as other books to add to your list. In this post, we focus on building word choice in writing featuring the book, Two Bad Ants.
Teaching Word Choice with Two Bad Ants
When I first began teaching, Chris VanAllsburg came out with The Polar Express. Of course, it instantly became a hit. Well, through the years, I’ve enjoyed collecting his books. The illustrations and interesting story plots have always intrigued me.
Of his books, I do have a few favorites. The Polar Express is one I’ve enjoyed with my own children, and today, it’s a classic in my opinion. I’ve also enjoyed sharing Jumanji and the sequel, Zathura, this past year with my students. I think my all time favorite Chris VanAllsburg book is Two Bad Ants, and that’s the book I’ll talk about for reading skills and word choice this week.
Modeling Word Choice in the Context of a Mentor Text
Two Bad Ants is such a wonderful book for explaining point of view. Chris VanAllsburg’s carefully selected words describe without naming. He used phrases like “sea of crystals” to describe the sugar in the sugar bowl and “big, brown lake” to describe a cup of coffee, and the list goes on. Students enjoy seeing things from a different perspective, and this book works well to model this concept.
For fun, teachers might brainstorm with students ten objects and in groups, students could brainstorm ways the objects could be described without naming them. This could lead into shared writing of a RAFT paper for modeling of word choice in your descriptions.
Writing RAFT Papers
RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. Here is an example of one:
- Role: Piece of Gum
- Audience: Child who spit it out on the ground
- Format: Persuasive Letter
- Topic: Explain what it’s like to be stuck to the bottom of a shoe
Example number two:
- Role: Pencil
- Audience: School Children
- Format: Advertisement
- Topic: Why we need to take care of them
Today, I’ll share this RAFT assignment that I mentioned, but you’ll see that it is easy to modify RAFT papers to any book you’re using. Start with your mentor text and highlight the words chosen by the author. To download the free resource, simply click the image above or HERE.
Teaching Activities and Books for Word Choice
Connecting Reading and Writing
If you’d enjoy using Two Bad Ants in your classroom, you might take a look at this unit I’ve put together. It includes before, during, and after activities for guided reading as well as seven pages devoted to analyzing word choice, planning for and developing descriptive writing to include vivid vocabulary, writing forms, and a revising checklist.
Six Traits Writing:
- Using the Six Traits for Writing Instruction: Mentor Texts for Teaching Voice
- Building Writing Skills Using the Six Traits: Mentor Texts for Organization
- Focusing on the Six Writing Traits with Writing Ideas
- Using the Six Traits for Writing Instruction: Mentor Texts for Sentence Fluency
Now, it’s your turn. What books are your favorites for word choice? Do you have a few favorite mentor texts that model word choice? Share your favorite titles below.