Sometimes we all need a different perspective! We had been working with kindergartners on writing a narrative. The students had drawn pictures prior to writing, illustrating the setting and 2 events that took place in that setting. They had written about their time in the library, an event on the playground, and a special time with their families.
We now wanted to expand their writing to include a problem that the characters needed to solve. Along with a problem to solve, I wanted to provide students an opportunity to add details to their writing. I brought in sheets of paper cut in 4” by 18” strips for them to draw pictures onto to help plan their writing. I folded the strips into four rectangles and we were ready to start. Purely be accident, I taped the paper to the board vertically beside a piece of chart paper. With the paper hung vertically instead of horizontally, the order of the pictures matched the writing we would be doing on the paper. We decided to try a different perspective on writing.
To model the process, I began writing a story about buying some apples in the grocery story. Before writing the story, I told the students we would sketch out the essential events. The first box was for my setting. I quickly sketched a picture of me standing in front of a display of red, juicy apples. This was where my story would take place.
The next box was for the problem. As a group, we discussed the importance of the problem. Just putting the apples into a bag and putting the bag into my grocery cart did not make a very exciting story. What problem could I encounter? In the second box I drew a picture of me placing apples in a plastic bag. Unfortunately, there was a hole in the bottom of the bag and the apples were dropping out all over the floor.
The third picture was where we would sketch the solution. The very kind grocery store worker had come and helped me gather up all the apples I had spilled. I drew a picture showing this solution. The final box was designated for the conclusion. The story could not just abruptly end, but needed to show how the character reacted to the events. What happened at the end of the story? How was the character feeling at the end of the story? In the final box of my paper, I sketched a picture of me happily leaving the store with a bag of apples in my hands.
Now that the story was planned, it was time to write. Leaving the picture strip taped next to the chart paper, we began to write. How could we start our story? What is happening in the first box? Together we wrote:
One day I went to the grocery store to buy some apples for my lunch.
We folded the first square behind the second square, so our second picture was now on top. Students could easily see what we were writing about next.
One day I went to the grocery store to buy some apples for my lunch. I opened a plastic bag to carry my apples. I didn’t know there was a hole in the bottom. As I put the apples in the bag, they all fell on the floor.
We repeated the process for the third picture, folding the first two pictures back. The third picture was now on top.
One day I went to the grocery store to buy some apples for my lunch. I opened a plastic bag to carry my apples. I didn’t know there was a hole in the bottom. As I put the apples in the bag, they all fell on the floor. I was about to cry. A kind man who worked at the store came and helped me collect all my apples.
We are ready to conclude our story. We want to let our readers know how the characters are feeling at the end of the story.
One day I went to the grocery store to buy some apples for my lunch. I opened a plastic bag to carry my apples. I didn’t know there was a hole in the bottom. As I put the apples in the bag, they all fell on the floor. I was about to cry. A kind man who worked at the story came and helped me collect all my apples. I paid for my apples and left the store feeling happy and ready for a snack.
The students were ready to write on their own, with some support. To help guide their writing, we all chose the park for our original setting. Students drew a picture of the park in the first box. After brainstorming ideas, students drew a possible problem they might have in the park in the second box. The third box was used for drawing the solution and the final box showed how the characters felts at the end of the story.
Although the students wrote independently, we followed the steps together. I was impressed how easily it was for them to fold the paper and write their story in order. They were able to write a story with a setting, problem, solution and conclusion. Accidentally hanging the paper incorrectly had been a successful mistake!