A Scary Day at Yellowstone National Park

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TSWBAT to apply understanding of Yellowstone National Park toward creative writing about a day spent there.

Big Idea

You'll never believe what happened!

Warm Up

15 minutes

Using locations to stimulate writing is a fabulous hook!  The students gain knowledge abut a new place and there are so many themes or events to frame the story around.

I always begin a location story lesson with a discussion about the place itself.  In this case, Yellowstone National Park and geysers.  Some students have not visited the park, but all have heard of it. (Old Faithful Erupting) Most are familiar with the term, "Old Faithful," though it conjures up different pictures for different students.  I show them a video with commentary of "Old Faithful" for those who have never seen it. (Footage of Old Faithful)

After viewing some still pictures of geyers, etc on the Smart Board and speculating on why Old Faithful continues to be...Old Faithful...the kids begin their reading of The Geyers of Yellowstone for more information. This is simply a passage from a teaching resource, so there are many possibilities, depending on the subject the teacher wants the kids to write about.


30 minutes

Now they read text about Yellowstone National Park from A Brief Guide to Yellowstone National Park, or any informational text that gives them a clear picture of the location, even though they may never have seen it in person.  After they've gathered data from this type of resource, I give them the story starter page.

Prompt: Make up a story about visiting Old Faithful and something scary happening to you there.   As they recall the video of Yellowstone National Park with an image of Old Faithful erupting in addition, the reading passage, and the informational text they've read, they have a few sources in which to base their story. They must think about a day they spent at the Park, and use factual evidence from the video and texts to tell a story about how it turned out to be scary. In my reflection, I make note of how I didn't define "scary" to the class.  Scary will mean different things to different kids, but all come up with creative ideas!


15 minutes

After a vigorous writing period, the scary tales are complete (Old Faithful Visit: Story). They've had a good time crafting the experiences and are eager to share Yellowstone National Park craziness (Reading his story). A lot of my little actors and actresses are more than happy to do so with the appropriate gusto. (A Scary Day at Yellowstone Park ) I put the image of Old Faithful erupting as a background on the Smart Board to add a little mystique. (Reading her story). 

The joy that kids get from creative writing is an important factor in how often I incorporate it into my classroom.  Whenever a child has fun with a classroom activity, it's my responsibility to capitalize on that enjoyment and recreate it in another form.  I want kids to look forward to the experiences they have so that they'll anticipate more, thereby being present in the classroom both physically and in tip-top learning mode.

Evaulating writing with the Six Traits of Writing is the procedure I use.  I emphasize the different traits depending on the assignment.  With the Creative Writing Unit, I tend to focus on Voice, Organization, and Ideas and Content.  This makes sense as we explore W.5.3.