Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Pumpkin Mania! Writing Comparison/Contrast Paragraphs
I love fall! It is one of my favorite times of the year! Our third graders are having the opportunity to participate in a "mobile" pumpkin patch that is traveling to area schools. If you have the opportunity to take a field trip to a pumpkin patch, that would be even better. This is the "kick-off" event to our writing project. The great thing about this unit is that it ties in with the Science unit about the "plant kingdom."After students have spent time with the mobile pumpkin patch, the have each received their own little pumpkins. They have been educated on the process of growing pumpkins as well. Back in the classroom, I read to the students Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson which is wonderful book with great illustrations about the story of a garden and its pumpkins.Students are allowed to create Pumpkin children with their pumpkins. They add eyes, hair, and accessories. The first writing activity that we will do with their pumpkins is to create a "lil punkin' " baby book. They must measure, weigh and record the measurements of their pumpkin baby. They will also create a "family pumpkin vine" (family tree) for their pumpkins. This will include themself and their parents. The baby book will conclude with a story that students will write about their pumpkin baby's first day, as well as their first adventures at home. Yes, students will take their pumpkin baby home for a few days and write about what they did. This is a great journaling experience. I also encourage snapshots of their experiences together to include in the baby album.The remainder of this pumpkin writing unit will actually involve studying about characteristics of several different variety of pumpkins. We will learn the characteristics of three different kinds of pumpkins. I also provide my students with a fact sheet of the many characteristics that all pumpkins share. Now we are ready to compare similarities and also the differences. We use the venn diagram as an organizational tool to begin with. From this point we are ready to begin the rough draft paragraph.Students are engaged in the Step Up to Writing process by Maureen Auman. It is a great tool for writing their paragraphs.When this process is finished, everything is stored in a double pocket folder that each student has decorated. All portions of this project, including the informational pages are included. This makes a great portfolio to refer to when students write their next comparison/contrast paragraphs.