Friday, July 20, 2012

Class Books... on the playground!

Hello, Teaching Friends!

A playground break is awesome for the first days of school, when we're struggling to get everyone back into gear, including ourselves! I always have hopes of making those playground trips happen more often during the year, but time usually squeezes it out of my plans... until the last days of school, when it again becomes a lovely (and sometimes desperately needed!) treat.

Here's a way to combine a trip to the playground with your literacy instruction. Take your camera along to capture some clear photos of your students in action.

During the first weeks of school, use those pictures as the basis for some shared writing. It's easy to incorporate verbs like "run", "jump" and "slide" when there's so much happening in your pictures. Depending on the level of your students, have them independently attempt a caption (hey, there's a non-fiction Common Core standard in it when you use that word "caption"!), share the pen for some interactive writing, or do some modeled writing as your students dictate.

Sorry that I don't have any photos of the delightful "kid writing" that resulted when we shared the pen. We displayed the finished photos as a wall story - supply a cute pointer and you have a great opportunity for reading the room!

After a few weeks , the pictures came down and were bound into a class book. This is a fun and simple project that yields lots of ongoing practice with the rereading of the class book. All young readers love to see themselves in a book!

Here are a few ways to change it up a bit but still keep a literacy focus to your playground photos for the end of the year.

-  Have your students add speech bubbles of the characters (aka classmates) in conversation as
   they play.

-  Use the photos as a basis for a shared reading book for next year's class.  Your current students
    write, you type it up, glue on the captions, and bind it. Now it's ready for you to use during the
    first week of school, and a good springboard for discussion about playground behavior.Guide this
    year's group of writers into including some repetitive language in their writing, and next year's
    students will benefit even more!

-  Make multiple copies and have each student plan, write, and edit a creative story based on the
   picture of his or her own choice. This is a great project for writing buddies, whether for the 
   students in your own class, or partnering with an older or younger child.

-  For younger students, generate a shared list on chart paper, writing some of the words you might
   use to label the photos (climb, swing, girl, clouds, dirt, etc.)  Give each child a copy of the photo
   of his choice, have him choose the words he needs for labeling it, copy them on self-stick labels
   or sticky notes, and put them on the photo.

Do you have some other ideas for using playground photos? It would be wonderful if you'd share
them  below!

Hmmm... I'm thinking hard to come up with a playground-themed freebie that you might enjoy... aha!
Here's a differentiated making words set. At the first level, the target word "playground" is supplied.
Challenge your more advanced students with the second level, in which the students must discover on their own the word that uses all of the letters.

Happy Teaching!


  1. I love a good class book. I'll add this one to my collection. Thanks!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Great, Tammy! Thanks so much for commenting!


  3. Hi Linda,

    I love this idea and I'm going to use it. I usually take the students outside for a first day of school picture, but I like the idea that the photographs can be used for literacy activities. Thanks so much. This is a GREAT idea!

    First Grade Schoolhouse

  4. Glad you like it, Mona! I worked for about 15 years with struggling first grade readers, so I tend to have an "infuse it with literacy" perspective on just about everything!
    Thanks so much for commenting!



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