I'd like to share a Valentines Day reading/writing project with you. The idea came from Writing Fix,
one of my favorite online writing resources. The lesson there is called "Scheming Against an Adversary: Writing an Original Tale of Non-Violent Revenge", and it's based on this book by Derek Munson. Do you know it? It's a great story about a very smart dad who helps his son turn an enemy into a good friend - without either of the "enemies" realizing exactly what's happening!
If you're using Six Traits writing, the focus of this lesson is idea development. It's aimed a little high for where my first grade writers were, but should be fine as described at Writing Fix for second grade and up. We just adapted it a bit, and also turned it into a successful lesson on conflict resolution!
Before reading, we talked about the word "enemy", with of course a few vivid examples of "enemies I have known" eagerly discussed! We identified these as self-to-text connections that wold help us understand the plot and characters of the story.
During reading, we stopped to discuss the dad's plan as it developed - why it might or might not work. We noted changes in the characters as the story progressed. We made predictions, and revised them as the story continued.
After reading, we partnered up to do quick-writes of lists: ingredients for our own "enemy pies". everything from soap to mud to dog food and bugs would appear on those lists!
The next day, for our writing follow-up, we'd do a shared writing of a chart list of other ways to turn an enemy into a friend. The kids would make suggestions like sharing at lunchtime (basically a no-no at our school because of food allergies, but a nice thought, no?), inviting the enemy for a playdate, or just simply smiling at them every day (that'll get any enemy going, right?). In other words, there was lots of good thinking and discussion about getting along, conflict resolution, and even dealing with bullies. Then, each child chose an item from the chart list as an idea to write about and expand upon as able. We took it through a short process of sharing with a small group, revising, and editing.
Each child made a self-portrait with hands to hold the finished writing piece and there you have it - a writing display for your hallway or bulletin board!
Here's a very cool bonus that I found when writing up this post. Derek Munson has a website devoted to this book. I seriously love children's authors' websites, because so many of them are now aimed at young readers and writers, and because it makes authors more real to our young readers. I love to watch kids' reactions when they see some of the pure silliness at these sites... proving once again that reading is FUN!
In case you'd like to make a display like ours, here's a very slightly-jazzed up version of the one you see above.
Would you like to win a copy of Enemy Pie? Sign up for Derek Munson's newletter at enemypie.com, where a free copy is given away each month!
If you've used this idea with your class, please share your ideas and activities in a comment!