Rules At Home

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Students will be able to write an informative piece where they tell the reader about a rule they have at home and explain why.

Big Idea

Writing about rules helps the students see the benefit of having rules in the classroom.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

I tell the students that we are going to listen to a song called Do This, Do That, by Barry Louis Polisar off the CD Naughty Songs for Boys and Girls. I tell the students it has some not so nice words in it, but we are going to remember we would not use those words as they may hurt our friends or families feelings. Reason for song

For this piece of music I allow the students to sit and listen, free dance by themselves or free dance with a friend. They will often go, “Awww” when they hear the word “shut-up,” but I remind them how I said this song had some not so nice words in it because the song writer was making sure he had our attention.

When the song is over I have the students sit back on their spots and ask them if they can tell me what the song was about. Someone usually picks up on the fact that the song is about how you should do the right thing. If no one catches onto the message in the song I would explain to the students that the singer was feeling like he was always being told to do the right thing. I ask the students if they have rules at their house to help make sure they do the right thing. After listening to a few responses (I only take a few responses using the fair sticks so that I do not take up too much of story time and lose the attention of some of my audience) I tell the students that we are going to read a story about a little girl who does not do the right thing. 


A second song I sometimes use if I have time is: Mom and Dad are Always Right

In this song Barry is singing about how he feels like he is always breaking the rules at home and his Mom and Dad are perfect. It has the word “dumb” in it so be careful to use the same explanation as above.  


35 minutes

“This story is called Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by Jan Brett. If she is the author and the illustrator of this story, what did she do?” Hopefully a student will raise their hand and state that she wrote the words and drew the pictures, if not I tell the students, “The author’s job is to write the words of the story and the illustrator’s job is to draw pictures which support the author’s words.”


“Raise your hand if you have ever heard this story before?”

“Okay hands down.”

“Raise your hand if you can tell me something about this story.” Most students have heard this story, or a version of this story before. If a student has not heard this story before they will be introduced to it through listening to their peers responses.

“Wonderful. I am glad so many of you know so much about this story. We are going to read this story and see if you can tell me any rules Goldilocks breaks as we go through the story.”

While we read the book together we stop and discuss the events as we come across them. For example, “I see Goldilocks is walking through the woods by herself. Do you think that is a good idea?”

“Sebastian why so you say it is not a good idea?”

“So what do you think would be a good rule to keep her safe?”

I continue along this line of questioning throughout the rest of the story.      


When the book is over I tell the students their assignment will be to complete the writing prompt “One rule at my house is...” They will do this by answering the question, “What is one rule you have at your house?” I tell the students they will dictate their answer to a grown-up who will write down their words on a Post-It note and then they will give it back to the student. “You will copy the words from the Post-It note onto your paper making sure to copy the letters as bet you can.”

“When you have finished writing your words you will need to draw a picture clue for the reader.”


Once I feel the students understand the concept of what is being asked of them I prepare to send them over to the work station tables. “At the work station you will find the writing prompt. What is the first thing you will do?” Hopefully someone will remember the first thing they need to do is write their name at the top of the paper. “You do not need to write the date because we have the date stamp. Use it to date your work.”


Now I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some rule writing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Give the students about 15-20 minutes to get this assignment done. Remind the students they can look at the visual timer to check how much time they have left. 


Importance of explanations.

Reason for Explanations


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

I remind students to put their completed work in the “completed work” bin and those that are not complete go into the “under construction” bin. 

Student sample 1 - High student sample. Wrote themselves but does not use spacing.  

Student sample 2 - Middle student sample.  

Student sample 3 - Middle student sample.   

Student sample 4 - Low student sample. Copied dictated sentence as it appeared on the note. 

Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students that their “exit slip” to get their snack is to tell me one rule Goldilocks should have followed.

"Room 203 your exit ticket today is to tell me one rule you think Goldilocks should have followed to be safe. When you have told me your rule you can go ahead and use the hand sanitizer and get your snack."

I use the Fair Sticks to determine the order of the students. 

If a student is unable to give me a rule they can do one of two things:

  1. Ask a friend for help, or
  2. Wait until everyone has gone to get snack and then we can come up with a rule together. 

I use this exit ticket process to close out the lesson and also to provide the students with a conversion point with their peers during snack. I can also tell which students are confident with sharing their ideas and explain why it is a good rule.   


For this assignment I would simply place a copy of the student’s work with the One Rule at My House checklist in his/her portfolio to illustrate whether the student was able to meet the objective or not.

Using the checklist helps me to stay focused on what I am looking for in the student's work. The checklist also helps me convey how the student is performing in class to the families. The student can also use the checklist to see where they can improve their own work. It is important to conference with the student about the checklist because of course some students can not read the checklist.    


Later on in the day I also read the book Know and Follow the Rules, by Cheri J. Meiners. This is just one in a series of books published by Free Spirit.

These books are wonderful character building discussion starters. The books have great ideas in the back to extend the lesson. The website also has the Common Core Standards right on the page of the book – just scroll down to see. 


This is a little clip you can show in the classroom to reinforce rules. It is sung by Harry Kindergarten Music on his website. My only thing against this video is that it does use the word “don’t” a lot and I try to focus on the “do’s.”