One of the best ways to help students improve word choice and grow as writers is to surround them with quality writing. Books that model the specific writing skill or style we’re wanting our students to practice make the best mentor texts. For this post, I’ve chosen to highlight one of Julia Cook’s books, My Mouth is a Volcano. Julia’s books are often metaphorical, and for this lesson, my focus will be on word choice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julia visited our school several years ago, and from that time, I’ve been a HUGE fan. She is a former guidance counselor, and she has spent her life writing books to address social skills, classroom guidance topics, emotional regulation, stressors children experience, and family dynamics. If you have a student struggling with something in life, you will find a book on the topic HERE.
MODELING WORD CHOICE:
From the start, you know this book is a metaphor. The cover illustrates how the child’s words just erupt from his mouth. The words spew all over because Louis has “a lot to say”. If he tries to hold them in, they rumble and grumble inside. On the right, you can see the list of words that are connected to the analogy, volcano. As the book is shared, having students listen for and record related words gives purpose. You can print this page in “poster form” to create an anchor chart or project it and have students add their related words. Students can use the hard copy as the book is shared.
IMPROVE WORD CHOICE IN YOUR WRITING:
Once you’ve generated the list of volcano themed words, you can introduce the descriptive writing assignment to your class. I used the metaphor, “My mom is a gem,” as my example. I created a list of words related to jewels. My key words were gem, sparkle, and brilliant, and I suggest introducing your students to thesauruses for this activity. Coming up with the initial metaphor will probably pose the biggest challenge, so you might create a list to have on hand as a scaffold.
PLANNING AND WRITING:
Create a Four Square Plan:
Once your students have prepared their word lists, the planning and drafting will be much easier. They can keep their word banks in front of them to create natural sentences that describe their topic. With writing, I often use the Four Square Model, so I included two versions you can use as well as an example plan to demonstrate how I worked the words into my description. The image to the right is my planning page. You can see how I tied in the words from my list.
When you’re teaching this lesson, you might use the example plan to model. However, when you begin drafting, demonstrate how you’d add more sentences to each section to elaborate on the topic.
ABOUT THE RESOURCE
The resource I’m sharing includes a prewriting volcano words page that you can use as you share the book orally, an answer page, a related words prewriting page and teacher example, a planning page and example, and a drafting page. This resource can be downloaded any time using the email sign up form below. I send emails out a few times per month, so you won’t be bombarded. In fact, emails generally include links to other fun ideas.
Other Writing Posts You Might Like:
Six Traits Writing in the Primary Grades
Writing with a Plan: Using the Four Square Writing Method
Engaging Students in Thoughtfully Planned Mentor Text Lessons
Thank you for visiting, and for other fun writing lessons, check out the links below from my blogging friends in The Reading Crew.