Today, I want to share with you seven ways you can help your children or students transition from their summer vacations to embrace school writing assignments, by honoring prewriting as a powerful tool for writing. Too often children and teens are rushed to the “high board” by over-eager, short-on-time teachers and parents, and expected to jump into a writing assignment with little preparation for the topic. Letting students doodle briefly before writing, while you pray they are staying on topic, is not enough.
Your children or students probably have some happy and exciting memories from their adventures this summer. However, I do not think most students want to be required to grind out an essay of what they did over the summer. Still, I do think they often want to remember their fun memories. Through prewriting, they can be inspired to share them creatively.
2. If they think it’s fun, let them audio record what they share.
3. Take time to look at any “touchstones” (memorabilia) from their recalled experiences this summer…brochures, photos, emails, posts, journal writing (if they accomplished this). Maybe revisit the location by seeing more on the Internet.
4. Then, as they are recalling, help them jot down keywords that they share. These keywords can be as a list or written inside ovals across a page where they can add subtopics as stems from the ovals. (webbing)
5. Prewriting is a fantastic time for enrichment. Children can be gently encouraged to share what they learned from their experiences as well as what they are wondering about. As part of their faith walk, they can be asked what they think Jesus wants them to learn from all of this. This pondering can again be recorded in keywords, to help them with their writing assignment.
6. Prewriting certainly can allow for drawing, coloring, or painting. Many children process their verbal ideas this way.
7. Some children may do well with a caring soul interviewing them. I suggest first writing a dozen or so key questions such as--
Before the interview, show this list to each child or teen to think about before starting the interview. You can audio record the session, or involve a peer or older student to record the answers so they also experience authentic writing with a purpose. If you are working with a group, each student can write his answers and then share them in a group before they start writing. Or students can be partners, taking turns interviewing each other, while the interviewer writes down key thoughts.
Parents, I applaud you for all the positive, memorable experiences you have blessed your children with this summer. Honestly, they might be writing and talking about some of these memories for the rest of their lives. As their ideas bubble up, let them share. If they only want to write a poem or song this year, God may lead them to turn those memories into a play script another year.
Whatever they choose to write about is special to them and can be kept sacred to their souls by letting them create their writing assignment format.
The main thing is to embrace the experience, and then see how God wants to water that garden to grow. Last spring, I was involved in a town history day where children created sand paintings based on historical photos rallied up from the heyday when trollies zipped through our towns and hilly countryside. I can’t say the results of their artwork would have been much improved if their parents first took them to the nearby trolley museum or popped them on a restored trolley for a jolly ride, but certainly the project would take on a great deal more meaning for the children if they first were enriched by personal experiences with the project theme. Parents and teachers, thank you for all the “in the field” experiences you provide for children and teens in your lives.
Here is a fun way to celebrate with your children or students after they complete their writing assignment about their memorable summer experiences. Since it is still actually summer in the northern hemisphere till late September, I invite you to make Fried Ice Cream, using a kid-friendly recipe I wrote in my Teacher’s Guide for my book, Victor Survives Being a Kid. The Teacher’s Guide is available as a free download. You can click here. newSongpress.net/Victor. Scroll down that page to see the option. But here is the excerpt with the recipe. You may duplicate it for teaching purposes.
Fried Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
Here’s a delicious dessert that will require working with a grownup’s help, especially when frying. It’s so yummy, but also requires patience since the ice cream needs time to freeze and refreeze. Either prep it one day and fry it the next, or start it at least 6-7 hours before eating.
Please note: Before cooking, always read a recipe through so you can anticipate what ingredients and supplies you will need and so you make sure you understand all the steps and timing needed. Reading a recipe is a type of functional reading…reading that helps us learn how to do things…a very important type of reading to practice. Have fun! Enjoy!
(Recipe inspired by recipes from Darlene Brenden, Jeri Zieman, and Villa Cocina.)
1 quart vanilla ice cream
3 cups crushed cornflakes cereal or 2 cups each crushed cornflakes cereal and sweetened shredded coconut finely chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 egg whites or 2-3 eggs or 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups canola oil or other preferred oil, enough for partial emerging and stirring 1-2 balls at a time
Optional Toppings: whipped cream, slices of banana, strawberries, cherries, chocolate or caramel sauce, colored sprinkles
For Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, cubed
½ cup evaporated milk
Read and follow these cautions before frying with hot oil:
Work carefully with an adult. Have lid for fryer or heavy saucepan. Kitchen should have fire extinguisher. (Note: Never use water to put out a fire caused by cooking oil. Put lid on fryer or pot to reduce fire. Baking soda puts out oil fires too.) When the hot oil is not needed, cover the pot and put away from heat source.
For Caramel Sauce: