An Introduction to the Bubble Map

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SWBAT use a bubble map in order to describe themselves.

Big Idea

Students will learn that a bubble map is always used to describe a noun. They will learn how to use this map with content they can already describe - themselves.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

The bubble map is another of the 8 Thinking Maps. I love using Thinking Maps in my class because it helps students to organize their thinking before they actually write.  Today I'm going to be laying the foundation for students to be able to organize their thinking when they are trying to determine adjectives to describe a noun.  I will also be focusing on having my students use adjectives in their writing in later lessons.  When authors use adjectives their writing becomes richer and the reader gets a clear picture in their mind as they read.  In order for my students to plan before they incorporate adjectives into their writing, they have to learn how to use a bubble map.  Since we are working with adjectives to describe ourselves today in this lesson we are addressing standard L1.1f.

I know this lesson would be an absolute mess if I tried to teach my students how to use this map for the first time along with teaching them to base their ideas on informational content they need to also learn about before writing.  So we are using content today that the students are already experts on - themselves.  Students love talking and sharing experiences about themselves so I am going to capitalize on that.  This also makes this lesson a great one to teach at the beginning of the year when you want to spend time helping students learn about their classmates and feel valued.

In the lesson, I am going to model how to describe myself using a bubble map first.  Then I will guide my students through creating a bubble map to describe themselves. They will have to recall all the information about themselves in order to create their bubble maps with a goal of informing their audience about themselves.  So we are addressing standards W.1.2 (later in the year, we will take what we've learned about bubble maps and use informational texts to develop our content knowledge so that we can write informational paragraphs about other, more rigorous topics).

You will have to take a few minutes to prepare a list of questions you want to ask your students that will help them to write adjectives in their maps. I've given you some ideas in the guided/independent practice portion of the lesson.You also need either your Smartboard Introducing Thinking Maps or Activboard Introducing Thinking Maps. lesson depending on which kind of board you have in your classroom.  Finally, you'll need to make enough copies of the bubble map Student Copy Bubble Map for each of your students.

Modeling Section (I Do)

15 minutes

I had my bubble map displayed on my interactive whiteboard and I  called the class to the carpet so they can watch me front and center.   I knew this would also limit distractions because children wouldn't be playing with things at their desks.

I started the lesson by telling the children, "Today we are going to learn another Thinking Map.  Today's map is called the bubble map. We always use a bubble map when we want to describe something.  Our describing words are called adjectives and we will learn a lot about adjectives this year.  I am going to describe something using my bubble map right now - me!"

Before I started writing in the map, described it to them a bit.  I told my students, "In a bubble map the center circle is where we always write our noun.  A noun is a person, place or thing.  That is what we are trying to describe.  The outside bubbles are where we always write our adjectives, or describing words.  We always describe the noun in the center circle. "

Then I said, "I am now going to describe myself, because I am an expert about myself.  I am a person so I am going to write my name in the center circle. Now I am going to start describing myself." At this point I wanted to start asking students questions so they can be engaged in the lesson. 

After I asked the students a question, I recorded the adjective into the outside bubbles.  I always explain to the students that if my writing falls out of the bubbles than it's OK.  It's really nothing to worry about.  I continued asking my students questions. "What color of hair do I have?  What color are my eyes? Would anyone like to guess how old I am?  Am I short or am I tall? Am I loud or quiet?  Am I funny or am I serious? " I also supplied adjectives for things the students might not know.  I added the words musical, fun, creative, and loving.  I just kept filling in adjectives until my bubble map was complete.  Since I did this lesson at the beginning of the year, it was a great opportunity for the students to get to know me.  Not only was I showing students how to use the bubble map, we were also building our classroom community as well.

Guided/ Independent Practice

20 minutes

I told my students,  "Now you are going to complete a bubble map about themselves. Once you get your paper, put your name and the date on your paper but wait to fill it out.  I will ask you certain questions about yourselves, and you will write the adjectives in your bubbles."

I handed out the bubble maps to my students.  I know that first grader's handwriting is very large, especially at the beginning of they year. If you have students who struggle with fine motor skills you can copy this bubble map and enlarge it on a 8.5 x 14 piece of paper.  I have done this before and enlarged it by about 122% and it works very well for the students.

I helped to guide my students as they wrote their maps.  I had them write their names in the center circle.  Then  I started asking them some of the same questions I asked during the modeling section. After I asked students each question I  gave students the opportunity to write their adjectives in the outside bubbles.  It doesn't matter which bubble students write in, there is no particular order for recording information.

You may also ask students questions that might stretch their vocabulary.  If children in your class like sports, you might talk about what the word athletic means.  If students like art and music, you can discuss what the words artistic and musical mean.  Even though the focus of this lesson is not on vocabulary, you can certainly seize the opportunity.  I just continued asking students questions until their maps were complete.  Some of these included: 

  • What color is your hair?
  • What color are your eyes?
  • Are you funny or serious?
  • Are you good at art? (artistic)
  • Are you good at music? (musical)
  • Are you good at sports? (athletic)

These questions may give you an idea of what you might like to ask your students when you teach this lesson. You can see a short clip of this portion of the lesson here DBubbleMap.


10 minutes

I closed the lesson by asking the students, "What did you learn about a bubble map today?"      Students share what they took away from the lesson. 

Since this lesson focused on learning the map, I wanted students to think about their thinking.  Some of the questions I asked were:

  • Why do we use a bubble map?
  • What kind of word do we put in the center circle?
  • What kinds of words do we put on the outside bubbles? 

After I asked those questions, I gave students time to circulate around the room and share their maps with their classmates.