Friday, March 18, 2016

Amazing Ideas for Growing Readers and Writers K-2

Have Some Reluctant Writers in Your Classroom? 
Do your reluctant writers magically have to go to the bathroom each day when it's time to write, or are they the LAST ones to sit down to write because they just CANNOT think of a story topic? Look no further! I've got one of the most helpful mentor texts for you to use with your budding writers! 

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon (a first grade teacher and author of other awesome books) is a charming story about a little boy named Ralph, who NEVER knows what to write about. Each day, when it's time to write, he does everything EXCEPT write stories. If your students have done something to avoid writing, Ralph has done it too. He thinks he has absolutely NO stories to tell, until (with the help of his classmates), he realizes that stories can be about anything. As soon as Ralph discovers stories can be about ANYTHING, he writes all the time. 

This book works naturally to support a writing workshop approach, and it ties nicely into Lucy Calkins' Units of Study (especially for grades K-2). Young children will quickly relate to Ralph, as they will realize that they too can write stories (even though they may think they can't). 

This text can be used at the beginning of the year as you launch writing workshop in your classroom, especially as you teach about writing personal narratives. I guarantee you will refer to it time and time again throughout the year, during writing workshop. When I was teaching first grade, I used it at the beginning of the year, referred to the book often during my mini-lessons, reread it as needed, and always had it prominently displayed. 
FREEBIE #1-Idea Menu (*You can find both freebies at the bottom of my post.)

A few years ago, I created a set of monthly writing prompt menus for my students to use during Daily 5 (Work on Writing). They used them often, and they helped provide age-appropriate writing ideas for them during this independent writing time. The writing prompt menus were helpful when students were ready to begin a new piece of writing (during independent writing time), as they didn't need to think of a brand-new idea (a selection of ideas was already on their idea menus). 

After seeing that success, I created the above idea menu for students to record and keep their ideas for writing workshop pieces, depending on the type of writing being taught. When using the above Idea Menu, a student can simply jot down/draw a sketch on the Idea Menu (when it's fresh in his/her mind) so it's not forgotten. This serves as a way to collect writing ideas. 

I suggest teaching students the purpose of and how to use the idea menus during several mini-lessons. As you all know, you will most likely have to review/reteach how to use the menu throughout the year to make sure students are using them (and using them appropriately). This idea menu would just be used for writing workshop so students are not confused during independent writing time. 

If you are interested in the monthly writing prompt menus discussed above, you can find them at my TPT Store here: 

FREEBIE #2-Touch, Tell, Sketch (and write) planner

We all know children have wonderful stories to tell. But, we also know their great ideas are often forgotten from one day to the next. When a child chooses a topic for their next story, a great strategy to help plan the story is to use the "Think and Plan, Touch and Tell, Sketch and Write" strategy used in Calkins' Units of Study (see link above). This is a very helpful strategy that looks like this in a classroom:

1. A child chooses a topic for the next story/piece of writing.
2. He/she thinks about the sequence of the story/piece of writing.
3. The child touches a paper to tell about each part of the story/piece of writing (in sequence)
3. A sketches are drawn in sequence so ideas are not forgotten
4. The child then uses the sketches as the plan for writing. 

The Touch, Tell, Sketch (and Write) Planner I created can be used for the "touch, tell and sketch" part of the planning process. Writers can then use the planner to write. There may be more boxes than necessary on the planner, but just teach your writers how to use it for their writing.

You can get BOTH FREEBIES here:

Thank you for joining us today. My mystery word is Relax.  Print this chart out to collect mystery words from all the participating Reading Crew blogs (just click on the image below to grab the chart). You will need all mystery words in the hop (Primary or Upper Elementary) to enter the Amazon gift card giveaway (see Rafflecopter below)!  
Interested in seeing what others have to offer?  Check out the link up below to access the other amazing ideas for "Growing Readers and Writers K-2" here:

Happy Hopping! 

To visit the posts for grades 3-5, check out the blogs below:


  1. I have never heard of this book! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and freebie! :)

  2. This is a new book for me too, but it looks like a great choice for writing. I am excited to find it and check it out. Thanks for joining in with us again. Have a great spring!

  3. I really like this book! I am glad you are focused on it. The sketch freebie is great because they do forget their story often. I like that you have the graphic at the top too because we repeat it constantly but I still see them diving in before touching and telling.
    Curious Firsties