This is the letter U from the bundle ABC Animals and Writing Activity. The alphabet is the thread that I use throughout my classroom and therefore I used it for writing activities. I had backpacks filled with books, materials and items of interest to active my students’ imagination. The backpacks contained fiction and non-fictions books, skulls, furs, manipulatives, etc. I would pick and choose which books that would be out in a backpack. I used only two backpacks (or bags) at a time. “A” went away when “C” came out. The students quickly realized that if they wanted to explore the backpack to make sure they did so before it was put away. I store my books, etc. in jumbo ziplock bags.
Introduce the backpack by showing the students the contents and reading one of the books. Read one or two books each day. Students are encouraged to explore the backpacks on their own at independent reading time. At the end of a 6-day cycle brainstorm each animal (habitat, food, characteristics, lifecycle, etc. thus covering science outcomes for Characteristics of Living Things.
Set a time of 10-20 minutes, depending on grade level of the students. When the timer goes they work on their picture of the animal. When editing, I would have them read their writing to an adult and if they found their own mistakes they corrected them or I highlighted them and then they fixed the mistakes. Pencil will erase through highlighted ink. They drew, coloured a picture and made a paper roll animal that would be glued on each page. (If you make a photocopy to display in the hallway the highlighting will not show through.) The originals go in their writing portfolio and the photocopy and craft are placed on display. The students loved to learn about each animal through the alphabet, anticipating what the next animal would be! The crafts have been adapted from the book: The Paper Tube Zoo by Joy Evans.
Teachers add your own ideas and make this more personal to your individual classroom. My daughter-in-law put her own spin on this activity by putting her sample of the craft around the bulletin board as a border. It looked awesome! She displayed the students’ writing on this board. A friend teaching in a multi-grade classroom had the younger students write a factual piece on the animal and her older students create a fictional story about the animal.