Sponsored by Nevada educators, Corbett & Dena Harrison -- http://corbettharrison.com

 
The Web WritingFix    

home | email the webmaster   

Free Monthly Lessons:
We still proudly offer a monthly lesson for all teachers who sign-up for our "Lesson of the Month" Ning.

Click here to visit the Ning and check things out!

Click here to join the Ning and receive a free monthly writing lesson.


Stay in Touch!
On occasion, I do revise or update a lesson here at WritingFix. I also add new student samples to many posted lessons. Here are ways to receive updates and keep in touch:


Facebook
--------


Pinterest
--------


Twitter


We celebrate teachers who have created their own websites about teaching writing:


Corbett's
Always Write
Website
(Grades K-12)



Jodie's
Start to Learn
Website

(Kindergarten)



Holly's
Making Mathematicians
Website

(Grades K-12)



Brian's
Learning is Messy
Blog

(Grades 4-6)



Dena's
Write in the Middle
Website

(Grades 6-8)

Writing Traits: Teaching the Skills of Word Choice
teacher-created resources and lessons...all focused on skills that make up the word choice trait

A modest request from WritingFix: If you appreciate the resources at this website, consider saying "thank you" to the Northern Nevada Writing Project--sponsors of this free-to-use website--by visiting their Publication Page and ordering any of their wonderful print guides, like their 196-page resource, the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language print guide (pictured at right). Some of the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language guide's resources can be freely accessed on this page at WritingFix, but the guide features many, many more trait-friendly ideas, lessons, and resources that can only be found in the printed version. All proceeds from guide sales help this website grow.

Each year, the NNWP offers inservice courses designed to help teachers make new and exciting connections with the six traits of writing. The goal of these professional development experiences is to help educators see the value of using traits as their classroom language during writing instruction. When both teachers and students "own" the language of traits enough to discuss them throughout the writing process, writing improves dramatically, and learners can "go deep" as they discover their personal strengths and struggles that come with the process of writing.

Word choice is just one of the six writing traits. In Nevada, although it isn't specifically assessed on our fifth grade state writing test, there is a bullet on the state's voice rubric (which is assessed) that directly mentions word choice. The trait of word choice is a complex trait that should be discussed, explored, and further developed every year that students learn to write in school; both kindergartners and high school seniors can be taught to think about developmentally appropriate skills that are associated with word choice. This page contains word choice lessons and resources that we consider appropriate for sharing with third graders and up. If you are working with primary writers and the six traits, be sure to visit WritingFix's 6 Traits and Primary Writing Homepage.

Word Choice Topics and Sub-Skills Explored on this Page

WritingFix's 6-Trait Poster Set
WritingFix's Word Choice Post-Its

A Free Poster Resource for your Classroom
Word Choice is represented by the color purple on our poster set.

WORD CHOICE—like the sun in the sky—can accomplish many things: comfort or sunburn, thirst or relaxation. The words you choose to include in your writing have profound impact on your reader.

  • Click here to open and print WritingFix's seven-page poster set, inspired by the "Building a House" metaphor created by NNWP consultants Dena Harrison, Corbett Harrison, Mary Dunton, Nancy Thomas, and Vivian Olds.

WritingFix offers a free template of Word Choice Post-It sized notes. These can either be printed on purple colored paper and cut out and stapled to students' drafts, or you can--if you dare--attempt to print them on real 3 x 3 Post-It Notes.

  • Click here to open/print a sheet of six word choice revision post-its.
  • Click here to visit WritingFix's Post-It homepage, where you can find instruction on printing our post-its on actual Post-It notes.

Return to top of page

Building a 6-Trait Mentor Text library for your classroom or your school's library?
"Mentor Text" Suggestions for the Trait of Word Choice
(Click here to access WritingFix's entire bibliography of cited picture books and chapter books.)

Word choice "mentor texts" that are focused on during the NNWP's annual
6-Trait Inservice Classes for Teachers:
(Visit our 6-Trait Homepage to learn more about our popular inservice class.)

Each year, the Northern Nevada Writing Project sponsors a huge variety of inservice classes and workshops that focus on helping teachers make 6 traits the language of their classrooms during writing instruction. A variety of presenters share K-12 classroom ideas with each workshop's audience, and--as teachers are known to do--the participants madly write down the names of mentor texts shared by the presenters.

Here are two word choice mentor tools shared by our presenters that our participants are always happy they have written down the titles for:


Scholastic's
Children's Thesaurus


Michael Fine & Veronica Hoyle-Kent's
Young Writers' Toolkit

Have a favorite book not mentioned on this page for teaching word choice? Send us the title at webmaster@writingfix.com.

More word choice "mentor texts" cited in the NNWP's
Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide:
(Click here to learn how to order this print resource from the NNWP.)

Return to top of page

Word Choice Sub-Skill #1: Powerful and Memorable Verbs
Each of the writing traits--word choice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one word choice sub-skill: using strong verbs (alongside memorable adjectives) to ignite a sentence. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Verb Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Verb Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Hoot & Howl

inspired by
Halloween Hoots and Howls
by Joan Horton

Lesson title:
What If... Poems

inspired by
What If...
by Regina Johnson

Lesson title:
Make 'em Laugh or Cry...

inspired by
Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls

 

Lesson title:
Writing Like an Artist Paints

inspired by
Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliett


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Five Serendipitous Verb Prompts
from WritingFix's Right-Brained Writing Prompts Collection
A Verb Prompt Designed for Younger Writers
from WritingFix's Writing Prompts for Kids Collection

All of WritingFix's Serendipitous Word Games are designed to make you laugh, and if you keep clicking the buttons long enough, an idea for original writing will eventually jump at you.

"I think a lot more decisions are made on serendipity than people think. Things come across their radar screens and they jump at them."

         --Jay W. Lorsch, Harvard Business School

Prompt Title: The Verb Game

Overview: Students click the two "magic buttons" until they build a story prompt inspired by random verbs. Before writing, students should have discussed the power of good verbs in a story's sentences, and you might create a verb word wall where students can refer when they create an entire story that is inspired by the prompt your students create. If your students write a particularly good story inspired by the prompt they build, you are invited to send it to us at publish@writingfix.com so that we may consider publishing it for other students to be inspired by. See this prompt's student samples page for details.


Word Choice Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: The "No Repeat" Challenge
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Ronda Donaldson, a Missouri teacher, shared the idea below with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"In order to encourage children to use more precise words, I challenge students in grades 3+ with a lesson we call '10 - No Repeat'.

"The children are given a topic.  The topic may be a holiday, a shared book, or whatever you like.  Then, the children are asked to write 10 sentences about the topic.  The challenge comes in with the 'no repeat'.  'No repeat' means that they may not use a word more than one time... yes, that includes: 'is', 'the', 'and', 'I', etc.  They may only use a word once.  

"This activity pushes children to find alternative ways of stating the topic, use precise action words (verbs) and descriptions (adjectives), and find different ways to express their thoughts.  A by-product of this activity is that the children will begin to vary the structure of their sentences.

"Sharing and analyzing their favorite sentence allows other students to grab on to a new idea/way to write.  Finally, we write a reflection in our journals about something we learned during the lesson."


Return to top of page

Word Choice Sub-Skill #2: Unique & Memorable Adjectives
Each of the writing traits--word choice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one word choice sub-skill: using memorable adjectives (alongside strong verbs) to strengthen a sentence. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Adjective Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Adjective Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Serendipitous Characters

inspired by
Tough Boris
by Mem Fox

Lesson title:
Onomatopoetic Field Trips

inspired by
RattleTrap Car
by Phyllis Root

Lesson title:
To Imitate Two Natural Authors

inspired by
Sarah, Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan

 

Lesson title:
Your Own Faraway Place

inspired by
The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Four Serendipitous Adjective Prompts
from WritingFix's Right-Brained Writing Prompts Collection
An Adjective Prompt Designed for Younger Writers
from WritingFix's Writing Prompts for Kids Collection

All of WritingFix's Serendipitous Word Games are designed to make you laugh, and if you keep clicking the buttons long enough, an idea for original writing will eventually jump at you.

"I think a lot more decisions are made on serendipity than people think. Things come across their radar screens and they jump at them."

         --Jay W. Lorsch, Harvard Business School

Prompt Title: The Adjective Game

Overview: Students click the four "magic buttons" until they build a story prompt inspired by one noun and three random adjectives. Before writing, students should have discuss the power of unique and memorable adjectives in a story's sentences, and you might even create a strong adjective word wall where students can refer when they create an entire story that is inspired by the prompt your students create. If your students write a particularly good story inspired by the prompt they build, you are invited to send it to us at publish@writingfix.com so that we may consider publishing it for other students to be inspired by. See this prompt's student samples page for details.


Word Choice Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Removing the Descriptive Words from a Read-Aloud
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Holly Platt, a Arizona teacher, shared the idea below with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare and Contrast Thinking Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to webmaster@writingfix.com.

"I wanted to share a book that I have used over and over again when I teach word choice.  The book is called Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini.  It is an adorable story of a witch who desperately needs eight piggies to make her piggie pie.  She ends up at Old McDonald's farm, but the piggies have disguised themselves, and the witch goes home without her piggies.  When I use this book to teach, I first read a version of the story that has all the descriptive words changed, or taken out.  The students have to see how many 'colorful,' descriptive words they can find, which is usually not very many.  I then read the book a second time the way it is actually written.  The students are always writing furiously to get all the 'colorful' words written down.  

"When I am done, we make a chart of all the descriptive words that are found in the story.  We hang up the chart and use these words over and over through the year.  My students love this story and the activity!"

Return to top of page

Word Choice Sub-Skill #3: Using Precise Nouns and Controlling Pronoun Use
Each of the writing traits--word choice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one idea development sub-skill: using precise nouns while controlling pronoun use. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Noun Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Noun Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Details and Vocabulary

inspired by
Tulip Sees America
by Cynthia Rylant

Lesson title:
Noun-inspired Animal Reports

inspired by
We Are Bears
by Molly Grooms

Lesson title:
Original Metaphor Collections

inspired by
Girl with a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier

 

Lesson title:
Creative Parallel Universes

inspired by
The Subtle Knife
by Philip Pullman


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

An Pronoun Prompt from iPods Across the Curriculum
(Visit WritingFix's entire iPod-inspired Prompt Collections)
A Noun Prompt Designed for Younger Writers
from WritingFix's Writing Prompts for Kids Collection

From Corbett Harrison, iPod Class Presenter: "I love making playlists on my iPod, and I love challenging my students to create imaginary playlists inspired by themes I give them and lessons I teach. If you click on the thumbnail below, you will see a playlist from my iPod I call 'Pronouns.' After teaching my students the many types of pronouns, I challenge them to create their own pronoun playlists based on song titles. We have a class contest to see whose list sounds the funniest when just the song titles are read aloud in order."


(Please click on the image above to see it larger!)

Prompt Title: The Noun Game

Overview: Students click the three "magic buttons" until they build a story prompt inspired by random nouns: one person, one place, and one thing. Before writing, students should have discussed the power of using precise and interesting nouns in a story. If you don't have the ability to get your students on computers to use this prompt, you can easily fill three coffee cans with index cards; on each card, write an interesting person, place or thing, depending on which coffee can you're placing it in. If your students write a particularly good story inspired by the noun prompt they build, you are invited to send it to us at publish@writingfix.com so that we may consider publishing it for other students to be inspired by. See this prompt's student samples page for details.


Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Graphing Personal Pronoun Use
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Tara Olivarria, a Nevada elementary teacher, originally shared the following innovative technique with us in the NNWP's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide. If you have unique ideas about teaching nouns and pronouns while teaching writing, direct your ideas to: webmaster@writingfix.com. If we post your idea, you can earn a copy of any of the NNWP's Print Publications.

"Both Brian Cleary's I And You And Don't Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun? and Ruth Heller's Mine, All Mine! examine pronouns and the many forms they can take. One or both of these mentor texts should be shared before attempting this graphing activity. They do an excellent job of showing pronouns in their many forms.

"After creating a class list--inspired by both books--of the most commonly used pronouns, have your students highlight the pronouns they have used in a piece of writing they are currently working on. Have a partner look over their highlights, pointing out any words that the writer missed in their first look-over; students often miss their own pronouns when beginning this process, and an extra set of eyes helps them catch them all.

"Next, pass out a short sample of published writing (Xeroxed) by a favorite classroom author. It might help to find a piece of writing that is of a similar genre to what your students are working on; for example, if you're learning about and writing personal narratives, do this with a published personal narrative. Have students work together to highlight popular pronouns in the published piece of writing. Create a class graph that shows a published author's pronoun use.

"Then, have students create a similar graph for their own writing. I find that often my students use pronouns a lot more recklessly than published authors do. When we compare my students' personal graphs to the published author's, a lot of my students make that connection and vow to use fewer pronouns and more precise nouns when they revise.

"Have students discuss their graphs with each other before having several share their findings with the whole class."

Return to top of page

Word Choice Sub-Skill #4: Sensory Words and Imagery
Each of the writing traits--word choice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one word choice sub-skill: using effective sensory words and imagery. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Imagery Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Imagery Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Listen to Poets' Word Choices

inspired by
Listen to the Rain
by Bill Martin Jr.

Lesson title:
The Color of Love

inspired by
I Love You the Purplest
by Barbara M. Joosse

Lesson title:
A Moment Like This Memoir

inspired by
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
by Bruce Coville

 

Lesson title:
Paulsen-Inspired Nature Poems

inspired by
Woodsong
by Gary Paulsen


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Sensory Language Word Walls
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Brenda Arnold, a wonderful Northern Nevada middle school teacher, allowed us to visit her classroom and photograph her sensory language word walls. In Brenda's class, students are encouraged to carefully choose words from these list that genuinely help and improve their writing. There is nothing worse than forcing sensory language into a piece where it isn't needed in order to simply make the writing longer. Brenda's students are taught to choose with care.

We gave Brenda the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare & Contrast Thinking Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

Photographs of Brenda's Sensory Word Walls:

Sight words

Sound words

Touch words

Smell words

Click on the images to view/print them
in larger form.

Join our Bulletin Board Sharing Group at our Writing Lesson of the Month Ning and share images from your classroom.


Taste words

Return to top of page

Word Choice Sub-Skill #5: Effective Figurative and Poetic Language Skills

Each of the writing traits--word choice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one word choice sub-skill: using figurative language effectively. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.

One teaching point when helping students understand figurative language is to make sure they realize that figurative language should sound natural if it is to improve a piece. How many pieces of student writing have been spoiled by teachers forcing them to add poetic elements that don't fit?


Two Picture Book-Inspired Figurative Language Prompts
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Figurative Language Prompts
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Haiku Riddles

inspired by
If Not for the Cat
by Jack Prelutsky

Lesson title:
Special Place Poems

inspired by
A Quiet Place
by Douglas Wood

Lesson title:
Prose Poetry

inspired by
The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

 
Lesson title:
Making the Abstract Concrete

inspired by
The Book of Qualities
by J. Ruth Gendler

Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Four Serendipitous Figurative Language Prompts
from WritingFix's Right-Brained Writing Prompts Collection
Have You Seen WritingFix's Poetry Lesson Collection?
visit WritingFix's Collection of Poetry Lessons and Prompts

All of WritingFix's Serendipitous Word Games are designed to make you laugh, and if you keep clicking the buttons long enough, an idea for original writing will eventually jump at you.

"I think a lot more decisions are made on serendipity than people think. Things come across their radar screens and they jump at them."

         --Jay W. Lorsch, Harvard Business School

In Northern Nevada, we host an annual poetry workshop--our Piñon Poetry Festival--where teachers and select students attend to write poetry together under the guidance of Northern Nevada Writing Project Teacher Consultants. At evening's end, the attending teachers are encouraged to return to their classrooms to teach the same lessons they've learned with the help of the students they brought.

At WritingFix's Poetry Lesson Collection, we feature not only all of the lessons shared at past poetry festivals, but also other innovative lessons written by Northern Nevada teachers who've been inspired by the NNWP's Poetry Projects and Festivals. We believe that when students are taught to love the act of writing poetry, all their assigned writing's word choice improves.

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Effective Figurative Language
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Marsha Kessler, an Idaho elementary teacher, shared the following mentor text suggestion with us. We sent her a copy of the NNWP's 6 x 6 Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"I love to share Sam and the Tigers when teaching my students to use better similes in their writing. This book--by the great Julius Lester--is a more modern day version of Little Black Sambo. Each piece of Sam's outfit is described using a color simile. The similes Lester uses are rich and thoughtful, not trite or predictable.

"We talk about predictable similes and cliche similes, and then we make some for each of the colors as a class: as blue as the sky, as green as the grass, as yellow as the sun, as black as the blacktop.

"Then we re-read Sam and the Tigers. The students start to appreciate the unique sound of Lester's figurative language.

"I then have students visit some of their previous writing and find places to carefully add similes that might improve their writing, not feel forced, and not make it predictable."

Return to top of page

Word Choice Sub-Skill #6: Playing with the Language
Each of the writing traits--word choice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one word choice sub-skill: playing with the language. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Self-Reflection Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book-Inspired Self-Reflection Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Poems to Bug Your Readers

inspired by
insectlopedia
by Douglas Florian

Lesson title:
Alliterative Insects

inspired by
Clara Caterpillar
by Pamela Duncan Edwards

Lesson title:
Prose Poetry

inspired by
The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

 

Lesson title:
Oxymoron Poems

inspired by
Holes
by Louis Sachar


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

An Original "Playing with Words" Prompt Found only at WritingFix
from Corbett Harrison, WritingFix's Webmaster

Sausage Story: Writing a Riddle into an Original Tale -- A sausage sentence is a very special kind of sentence that students can create; making one involves playing with language in a very unique way. Once students have created a series of these special sentence, they choose one and use it as either their story's introduction or conclusion.

This is a fun differentiated writing prompt, as you will have some students who really excel at this word-play story-writing challenge, and you will have others who, at very best, will be able to manage writing just a single, challenging sentence. When you partner those who excel at this prompt with those who struggle, you will hear some great conversations about language strategies.

Enjoy this word play prompt!

Five Serendipitous Alliteration Prompts
from WritingFix's Right-Brained Writing Prompts Collection
Teaching Subtle Alliteration
from WritingFix's Revision Workshop

All of WritingFix's Serendipitous Word Games are designed to make you laugh, and if you keep clicking the buttons long enough, an idea for original writing will eventually jump at you.

"I think a lot more decisions are made on serendipity than people think. Things come across their radar screens and they jump at them."

         --Jay W. Lorsch, Harvard Business School

Alliteration is a fun tool to teach, but the type of tongue-twister alliteration our students compose during these lessons with is not the type of alliteration often seen in actual published writing. Real authors do use alliteration in their prose, but they do it so subtly and gently so that the reader often doesn't realize it's there.

In our Northern Nevada Revision Workshop for teachers, we study real authors uses of subtle alliterations in descriptive writing. Teachers are amazed at how often they discover it, once they realize it's a commonplace technique.

One of the lessons we share during the workshop is called the "Four Corners of 90th Street." Inspired by Roni Schotter's Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street, the lesson includes advice about adding subtle alliteration during revision as a technique to improve both word choice and idea development.


Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Visual Puns!
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Melissa Connors, a Michigan middle school teacher, shared the following mentor texts us. We sent her a copy of the NNWP's Secondary Writing Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"As a kid, I adored The Munsters, starring Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster. When I first started teaching, I borrowed a book from a colleague for a lesson I was designing on puns, and it never occurred to me that the author was the same man who'd made me laugh so much on television.

"A Chocolate Moose for Dinner was the book I borrowed. Later, I also found The King Who Rained. Both are now prominently displayed through most of the year in my chalk tray, and they inspire my kids to celebrate the sound of language, especially interesting words that are homonyms.

"Each spring, I team the students up in pairs, and we have a visual pun contest. After sharing from Gwynne's books, the students brainstorm as many homonyms they can. They circle all the ones that might make interesting visual puns like the ones from the mentor texts. I always model with the homonyms bases, basis, and basses. We make funny puns like 'ran around the basses,' 'on what bases did you make your decision,' and 'you better tune your basis before playing.' I ask the students which pun would make the funniest cartoon, and what would the cartoon look like.

"In pairs, students now begin creating and brainstorming illustration ideas of visual puns. At the end of class, I ask students to listen carefully to words over the next few days, and I explain that in a few days, each partnership will be responsible for submitting an original illustrated pun that can be hung in the hallway. We vote for our favorites, and they become our punny bulletin board that hangs up for the rest of the year.

"I find this exercise really helps my students understand that language is fun and can be played with. Long after the contest is over my students still bring me visual puns they think up after hearing words in places outside my classroom."

Return to top of page

Copyright 2014 - Corbett & Dena Harrison, Educational Consultants, LLC, and WritingFix- All Rights Reserved.
Please, share the resources you find on these pages freely with fellow educators, but please leave any page citations on handouts intact, and please give authorship credit to the cited teachers who created these wonderful lessons and resources. Thanks in advance for honoring other educators' intellectual property.

home ] [ e-mail the webmaster ]