This lesson is fun and quick. Some days require a quick writing activity rather than a long involved activity. Choosing to do a drawing about their favorite thing is non threatening to younger students and my ELL students. Drawing about things that are our favorite is relevant and draws on the students prior knowledge. The CCSS stress writing opinion papers. This is the beginning of writing an opinion paper. Just like Max, we can draw what we want to say. It is fun to draw our story. When they do show their drawings I like them to use "I like, or "My favorite" for sentence starters. It doesn't always happen on camera, but we try. If they get in the habit of using the sentence starters when speaking, they then can transfer the sentence starter to writing on paper.
I begin my lesson with my students seated on the carpet for our whole group reading block. I will engage my students in a discussion about birthdays to hook them into my lesson.
"When I look at the calendar I see there are three birthdays this month. Who has a birthday this month? Let's look, oh, it is Juan, Joel and Roselyne. Let's talk about birthdays. What happens on a birthday?"
We talk about all the things we can remember about birthdays. I give each student the opportunity to talk about a birthday.
" You have named many things that we do or have at a birthday. You named the one thing I like best, I love Birthday cake! Who else likes birthday cake? Who likes chocolate cake? Who like white cake? "
I notice several students not raise their hand so I ask them individually what kind of cake they like. Strawberry, my mom's cake, superman cake and princess cake are answers to my question.
"Today I am going to read a story about Max and Ruby. Max and Ruby are so much fun. I like to read about them to find out what they are doing. This story is called Bunny Cakes. It is their grandma's birthday and both Max and Ruby want to make a birthday cake for her. Let's find out what kind of birthday cake they make."
I begin the story only to find out the kind of cakes Max and Ruby are making. We quickly discuss which cake we would like to have for our birthday. We agree that we do not want earthworm cake.
When Max breaks the eggs we discuss the mess and clean up process. Then we talk about the grocery list. Max can't write or read words.
"If we were to write a list what could we put on the list if we couldn't write words?"
Several students shout out, "draw a picture".
"Wow! That's a great idea. Max went for eggs, but what did he write on the list? Do you think the grocer can read that? NO, I can't read it either. Did Max get the Red Hot Marshmallow Squirters? Nope, why? Yes, you are right the grocer could not read what Max wrote."
The same discussion continues with the spilt milk and the flour.
"Max keeps dropping things and having to go back to the store. Each time he tries to write, what does he want? Red Hot Marshmallow Squirters. Oh, yes. But could the grocer read his writing? No."
"What did Ruby do to keep poor Max out of the kitchen. She put a sign on the door. Did she write words on the sign or did she draw a picture? She drew a picture. Why do you think she drew a picture? OH, that's right, Max can't read. Did Max understand what the picture meant? Yes, he did, you are right. "
"Ruby wanted fun things to put on her cake, candle, silver stares, sugar hearts and buttercream roses. She wrote all the things on the list. She sent Max to the store. He had an idea. Turn to your partner and tell them what you think was his brand-new idea?"
I give my students time to tell their partner what Max's brand-new idea could be. I walk around and listen to make sure my students are on task, talking to their partner.
"Great, now give your partner a high five and look at me. What was the idea? To draw a picture of the Red Hot Marshmallow Squirters. Wow, that was a good idea. Did the grocer know what he drew? Yay, he did know. "
"Max and Ruby both finished their cakes. Which cake did grandma want to eat first? Which cake would you eat? Hmmm, I know which one I would want to eat."
"We have all had wonderful cakes for our birthday's. Just like Max and Ruby's Grandma. Today we are going to have fun drawing a picture of the cake you would like to have for your birthday. Do you want the cake Ruby made or the cake that Max made? I want you to think about which cake that you want to have for your birthday. Remember to add details and use five colors in your pictures. "
I use my classes helpers to pass out the drawing papers while I dismiss my seated students a little at a time to go their tables. If I don't stager their dismissal, I get running and pushing. So we go slowly and in an orderly manner.
"Would my paper passers please pass out the plain drawing paper? If you are wearing a blue shirt, go get your pencil boxes and sit at your tables. If you are wearing a red shirt, go get your pencil boxes and sit at your tables. If you are wearing a white shirt, go get your pencil boxes and sit at your tables."
I walk around and prompt students to add more details and colors.
When we are finished we gather on the carpet to display and orally explain our birthday cakes.
Here is an example of student work.
When all my students have finished their drawings, we gather again on the carpet. I ask my students to sit quietly while holding their papers. I call a row of students up to the front of the class to orally describe their favorite birthday cake. I found that by having my ELL students stand up to read as a small group, they feel secure and willing to discuss their drawings. Each student gets the opportunity to "show and tell" their drawings. We applaud and cheer after each oral presentation.
When there is time in the day after our writing I show my class this video of the story, Bunny Cakes.
I often show a 3 -5 minute video at the end of the day as they are getting their backpacks and coats, they hurry to sit on their squares ready to be dismissed. It is important for my ELL students to the ELA skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing multiple times during the day. Showing a video of the story I read early accomplishes this. My students are very focused on a video and exposed to the story details and vocabulary in a fun way. They often ask to watch the video several times in the next few days which is wonderful. The more they want to hear a story the more they re-enforce ELA skills.