Woodland Animal Stories

The children have been strengthening their reading and writing skills all year, the joy in a multi-age classroom is that you have all sorts of writers right from the beginning.  The more ‘seasoned’ writers encourage the others to pick up a pencil, marker, or crayon and join in!  I recall one of the very first days last fall when a new student sat down to ‘write’ a book.  He copied a book word for word and was so proud of himself.  He couldn’t yet read and didn’t know all of the letter names, but he was so motivated to write! 

A few months have passed and these children have put in many hours at work, and now they are all ready to write their own animal stories.  These stories are an end of year ritual and we put our best effort into them.  We have started researching and reading great animal stories by other authors.  I am very partial to nature stories by Jim Arnosky.  The kids have taken a liking to them as well, finding his titles at the library and even in their own book collections.  Arnosky uses great descriptive language in his books, making them great for read aloud.  We have read these books twice.  Once we just listen to the story and think about characters, setting, problem, solution and resolution.  The second time we read the story, we listen for movement words, or descriptive words that tell about the habitat, season, time of day or weather.  We also listen for words that indicate sound!  You would be amazed at how well these kindergarteners do identifying all of these story elements and language!

This week we started having prewriting conferences.  The children dictated to me the rough outline of their stories.  They indicated what woodland animal would be the main character of their story and outlined the setting, problem, solution, and resolution.  I find this outline really comes in handy when they start writing, it keeps them focused and helps them keep their story to four or five illustrated pages.

As I step back and reflect on the literacy growth of this group of children, it is just amazing!  I remember feeling the same way last year at this time.  There are days in the fall, when you just don’t know if it will ever come together, and then you find yourself rotating children through prewriting conferences, for two straight hours, one day in May, while classroom life peacefully goes on around you.  These are fantastic children!