05 Writers look and think to find ideas.

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Writers look and think to find ideas.

View Big Book.

There is a world waiting to be discovered by young learners. There are shooting stars and backyard anthills, bright sunsets, fast-moving video images, and picture books for quiet looking and thinking. And, of course, all of these discoveries present invitations to write.

About the Picture A child is looking thoughtfully at a chrysalis, a stage in the growth of a monarch butterfly, and Spot is reading about butterflies. Making direct observations and reading books are two good ways to become an expert on any topic.

Major Concepts

  • The environment is filled with opportunities for looking and reflecting.
  • The classroom environment, especially, is a place for thinking and observing.
  • A writing center with plenty of resources will foster interest in writing.
  • Word walls promote reading and writing specific words at a glance.

Daily Lesson Planning

Day 1

  1. Present "Writers look and think to find ideas" to your class. Point out that the boy is observing the chrysalis of a monarch butterfly, and Spot is reading about butterflies. Explore with children how looking and thinking gives ideas for writing.
  2. Find out what the children know about butterflies and write some of their ideas on the board or a chart. Implement "Butterfly Life Cycle" or draw the life cycle of a butterfly (egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly) on the board, and ask children to help you label it.
  3. Invite students to respond using “Writers look and think to find ideas” (BB 4).

Days 2-6

Choose from the following activities:

  • Early in the year, and then periodically, have each child write a list of the words he or she knows. These lists can include names, words children know how to spell phonetically or by memorization, and words they can find in the classroom. Have children keep their lists and watch them grow.
  • Implement “Writers think about letters and words” (BB 5).
  • Designate certain areas of the classroom as quiet places (for thinking) and others as talking places. Implement "Quiet Places/Talking Places" for this activity.
  • Begin building a word wall on a bulletin board. Start with a few words and gradually add more, especially those that the children ask for. It is best to keep common nouns and high-frequency words on the main word wall. (See "Everyday Words" below for a suggested list.) Other words can be displayed temporarily.
  • Place magazines and newspapers in the writing center. Ask children to find labels and signs (cereal, toothpaste, detergents, etc.) they can read. Have children cut out and post these labels on a large poster and read them to each other.
  • Invite children who have special interests to begin writing about and drawing them. Encourage phonetic spellings and using the word wall. Also provide blank books for this activity.

Concluding Days

  1. Recall different ways to find words, including the use of word walls.
  2. Talk about ways that looking and thinking can help writing and learning.
State Standard Reference:
LAFS Standard:
TEKS Standard:
NE ELA Standard:

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Background Information
on Observing and Writing


Print in the Environment

The environments in which children live are filled with familiar symbols. For example, many children recognize their names and the names of their family members on address labels, luggage tags, mailboxes, and so on. They also recognize many brand names, certain restaurants, and traffic signs. It is important to notice and affirm children’s literacy skills whenever they identify these words and symbols.

Classroom Environments

Classroom environments that facilitate children’s learning are set up like laboratories for exploration. These classrooms have both
active areas and quiet areas where children can find what they need for learning and practicing literacy skills. Ideally, various centers offer small-group and individual activities: a reading center, a writing center (see next paragraph), an art center, a discovery (math and science) center, and a dramatic-play center.

A Writing Center

A writing center provides plenty of tools and prompts, including sharpened pencils, pens, crayons, markers, all kinds of paper, word walls (see next paragraph), posters, a place to file ongoing projects and papers (folders and journals), picture dictionaries, and the alphabet with key words (always posted at eye level for children).

Word Walls

Word walls are usually built gradually, often in alphabetical order, in the writing center. They are lists of words large enough for children to see and read easily. Words can be written on strips of paper or word cards. This tool offers young writers many of the words they need—at a glance. Word walls include high-frequency words—“everyday” words like the, to, are, of, and common nouns that children read and write regularly. (See the list below for some of the most common words.)

Establish Routines

Early in the year, establish routines for writing. Be sure the children know where to write their names on their papers, where and how to write the date on their papers (maybe your class will use a stamp), how to use their writing folders, where to sharpen pencils, etc. (Always have extra sharpened pencils available.)

LAFS Standard:
TEKS Standard:
NE ELA Standard:

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English Language Arts:

Everyday Words

Here is one list of everyday words for a classroom word wall. Be sure to build the word wall gradually (three to five words weekly). You can also direct students to a shorter list of everyday words on page 106 in their Buddy Books (BB) as well as an activity for using them in a story (BB 107).

a
after
all
am
and
are
ask
aunt
baby
be
before
big
book
boy
brother
bus
but
call
can
car
cat
children
come
could
cousin
dad
did
dog
down
each
eat
every
family
father
for
friend
from
funny
get
girl
go
good
grandma
grandpa
had
happy
has
he
here
house
if
in
into
is
just
keep
kind
know
like
little
live
look
love
make
man
mom
mother
my
name
new
no
now
of
old
once
out
people
play
please
room
run
saw
school
she
sister
some
teacher
thank
that
the
they
this
to
toy
uncle
up
us
very
was
way
we
went
work
would
write
yes
you
your
LAFS Standard:
NE ELA Standard:

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