Everyone Has Problems

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Students will be able to use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose an informative piece of writing.

Big Idea

Relate to the text through writing.


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.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask them to stand up and get ready for a movement activity. They will need to stand up carefully and do washing machine arms to make sure they have enough space to move without bumping into their neighbors.

Before I play the song I remind the students that they are in control of their body and it will only do what you tell it to do. Telling my students they are in control of their body takes away from students saying, “He made me bump into him.”

Now I play the song Oh No! I Spilled My Milk, by Betsy Q. I like this song because it has a fun catchy tune and the students and I really get into yelling Oh No!

Once the song is over I have the students take a seat back on their spots on the rug. I do this by singing what I call the Spot On Your Dot Song


35 minutes

“The book for today is called Too Many Pumpkins. This book is written and illustrated by Linda White. Looking at the cover of the book and recalling the title, can anyone give me a prediction as to what they think the story might be about?”

I select a couple of students to respond to the question using the Fair Sticks

“I think you may be right Ryan. There are a lot of pumpkins on the front cover with the old lady and the title does say Too Many Pumpkins, so those are both good clues that the book is probably going to be about an old lady with too many pumpkins.”

“What type of book do you think this is and why?”

“Fiction is right Emily and I like how you used the drawn cover illustration to explain how you got your answer. Okay, let’s go ahead and read the story to find out if Ryan’s prediction is correct.”


During reading, the students and I will discuss words like scarce, smithereens, admiring, tend, peered, etc, with the students.

I also ask questions like,

“What problem did Rebecca Estelle’s family have when she was a child?”

“How did the family take care of the problem of having no money?”

“We know a great big pumpkin has just smashed into Rebecca Estelle’s yard. How do you think Rebecca Estelle is going to take care of the problem?”

“Rebecca Estelle is too tired to life anymore pumpkins. How will she solve the problem of getting rid of all those pumpkins?”    


After I have finished reading I ask the students if they can recall a time when they had a problem.

“Who here in the classroom can think of a time they had a problem?” I use the fair sticks to select a student to respond. “What was your problem Owen?”

“Wow that is a problem. How did you solve the problem of the puppy chewing up the toys in the toy room?” “That was a great idea your parents had of putting a baby gate in the doorway.”

I select a couple more students to respond to the question, making sure that I also ask those students to explain how they solved the problem.

“Okay hands down. It is okay if you did not get a chance to share your problem with me on the rug because you will get a chance to share your problems with me at integrated work station time.” Integrated Work Stations Explanation

“When you get to this station you will find a copy of the One Time I Had a Problem writing paper, pencils, crayons and the date stamp. What is the first thing you will do?”

Hopefully one of my students will remember that the first thing they need to do is put their name on their work. “Great. Once your name is on your work please use the date stamp and then you can do one of two things. You can go ahead and begin your illustration while you wait for me to help you with your writing, or you can begin writing about your problem yourself using the resources around the classroom to assist you with the words. Can anyone tell me one of the resources available in this classroom?”

I take several responses to this question. “Those are all great resources to use. I could use a friend, the word wall, a book, or I could sound out the word using my tapping strategy. Well done”


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 problem 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.”


Allow the students about 15 minutes to complete the task. Remind the students to check the visual timer to check how much time they have and to use their time wisely.   


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 to be completed when the student has some spare time or at free choice center time.  Problem student sample   Problem student sample (2)   Problem student sample (3)

Once everyone is seated on their spot I tell the students the “exit slip” for today is to tell me one way Rebecca Estelle solved a problem.

I use the fair sticks to select the order in which the students go. If a student is unable to give me a solution they can do one of two things;

  1. Get a friend to help out, or
  2. Wait until the end and we will come up with a solution together.

Once a student has given me a solution they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. 


5 minutes

For this lesson I simply use the Writing to Inform About a Problem Checklist to go over the student’s writing piece, make appropriate notes and place it with the work sample in the student’s portfolio. 


Have a pumpkin product tasting session. Take a survey of which product the students liked best. Graph the results. Write about your favorite pumpkin product as a persuasion piece to get others to like it.


Later in the day the students can watch and listen to the story again during Be Excited About Reading (B.E.A.R) time. Live Book Reading; Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White 


Play the comprehension game during reading work stations. Free Download of a Comprehension Activity


Help build character and skills in your students by reading the following article and trying out some of the ideas. How You Can Help Children Solve Problems, by Ellen Booth Church.