Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writing Like Scientists

This week, we started our new writing unit -- Looking Closely: Observing, Labeling and Listing Like Scientists. The kids love it. We have been working on looking closely at things in real life, observing things that happen in videos, and learning/writing about what we've read in books.

Is it bothering you that I used "you" in 2 and "my" instead of "your" in 4? It's bothering me.
We all make mistakes. Especially when we're not paying attention. :(

On Monday, I showed students a video of Cheetahs playing in the snow from the Cheetah Cam at Richmond Metro Zoo. You can check it out HERE. Children observed the cheetahs closely and drew exactly what they observed. Most students labeled the picture and wrote something to teach about their subject.

I like it when we all write about the same topic because then I can bind our work into a class book for the library!

On Tuesday, I brought in my rock collection from when I was a little girl. When I was in first grade, my teacher had some rocks in the classroom that I was obsessed with. Because I was such a good student (or so she said), she gave me the coolest rock I thought she had ... a perfectly oval, incredibly smooth gray rock. I loved it. And it led me to collect rocks every time I saw them... actually good ones from museum shops, ones my mom and dad brought back from their travels overseas (like one from the Dead Sea and a path in Azerbaijan) and ridiculously unimportant ones I picked up on the side of the road. (Which I justified because "they were shiny.") Anyway, I brought these rocks in and passed out one to each student. The common response was "Mrs. Richardson, I like your rocks!!!!" 

Students got one rock each and a magnifying glass. We discussed how to draw what we saw and label interesting things we noticed. 

My example. If you're concerned about the spelling, please see my post on phonetic spelling.
We drew, labeled and then listed some description words. After, we tried to use one of those words in a complete sentence.

I meet with students who have difficulty sounding out words on their own at the reading table. For them, it's more of a shared writing exercise with me sounding out the words and them matching the sounds to their letter charts.  They tell me the description words or we brainstorm some together (i.e., Is your rock hard? Is it pretty? Is it big? What color is it?)

Writing Workshop isn't the only time for writing class books, though. We've done some as reading response activities in place of our Readers' Response journals. The example below was after we read Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Mo Willems's Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.

I just LOVE kindergarten writing. Young children are so creative and their capacity for writing changes so drastically in a year!


  1. What an authentic way to get kids excited about writing! Great job!

  2. I love this idea! Is there a teachers book on how to begin this unit and what skills to teach each day? Is this a Lucy Calkins concept?
    Thank you for sharing, the kids did and amazing job writing!