Descriptive Writing

Good writers can create a picture in their readers’ minds.

They can do this by:

  • using interesting vocabulary
  • elaborating on details
  • showing, rather than telling, some of the details
  • describing all five senses (what can be seen, heard, tasted, felt and smelt)
  • using lots of adjectives (describing words)
  • using metaphors or similies to compare two things
  • using synonyms (words with similar meanings) to make interesting word choices.

Found Blur Motion

The students in 4KM and 4KJ were given the following short, uninteresting recount.

Miss Jordan and Mrs Morris went to the beach. They put down their things and went for a swim. They sat on the sand. Then they went home. 

The children were asked to edit the writing to make it more interesting. They only had a short amount of time to do this but many students did a great job of creating a mind picture for their readers.

Here are some improved recounts by Ella, Harry, Logan M, Paris, Millie and Rochelle.

Could you leave a comment with your own improved description of the beach recount?

Do you have any tips for making writing more descriptive?

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4 Pics 1 Word

Thanks to our friends in Mrs Phillips’s class for the inspiration for this lesson and post!

4 Pics 1 Word is a popular app available for iDevices. The game involves solving word puzzles. Each puzzle contains four pictures that have something in common. You have to guess what the common word is.

Here is an example:

I’m sure you can guess that the answer to the puzzle above is SIGN. The pictures show the verb (doing word), sign and the noun (name of thing), sign.

4 Pics 1 Word can help us improve our spelling, logical reasoning and vocabulary.

4 Pics 1 Word often uses homonyms. These are words that are spelt the same, sound the same but have different meanings.

For example, the word bat is a homonym. This can be an animal (noun), a thing used for hitting in sport (noun), or a verb (eg. it was his turn to bat next in the cricket match).

***

The students in 4KM and 4KJ created their own 4 Pics 1 Word puzzles for you.

They used Microsoft Word and learnt skills such as:

  • sourcing Creative Commons images and using attributions (or using clip art)
  • setting transparent colour
  • spacing and aligning objects well
  • formatting text, images, text boxes and shapes

Can you guess the answers to these puzzles?

 

Leave a comment with your answer. Don’t forget to say which student’s puzzle you’re solving!

Do you play 4 Pics 1 Word? What do you like about it?

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Reading Strategy: Tune in to Interesting Words

Reading is a big part of our day in 4KM and 4KJ.

We use the CAFE model in our Literacy Block every day. Each week we focus on a different CAFE reading strategy in class. CAFE is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Expand vocabulary. All of these areas of reading are extremely important and good readers know they need to read regularly to improve their skills.

Last week our reading strategy was Tune Into Interesting Words. This strategy is part of the expand vocabulary area of reading. Good readers have a great vocabulary, which means they know and understand the meaning of lots of different words.

Tune in to interesting words means you stop and think about words that are new, different or unusual while you read.

Knowing what these words mean helps you in all areas of literacy, as it improves your comprehension while reading and you can use the interesting words in your writing. Understanding interesting words also helps you with your speaking and listening.

Miss Jordan looked through some books on her bookshelf at home and found lots of interesting words. She used Tagxedo to create a word cloud to share the words.

We would love to know what words you have come across when reading. Submit an interesting word you have noticed during reading into our AnswerGarden below.

What interesting words do you know?

Can you write us a blog comment including lots of interesting vocabulary?

What is your favourite reading strategy?

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Readers’ Theatre Performances

This term the grade fours have been learning about making healthy choices. We have learnt about good nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices we can make to keep our bodies in tip top condition.

To celebrate and demonstrate our understanding of making healthy choices, the students scripted and performed readers’ theatre acts.

Here are two groups performing their scripts.

The Quinns

Augustus Goes Healthy

Have you ever performed readers’ theatre?

What have you learnt about making healthy choices?

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Homophones and Homonyms

This week in 4KM and 4KJ we have been learning about some special words – homophones and homonyms.

Homophones are pairs of words that have:

  • the same prounciation
  • different spelling
  • different meanings.

The words pair and pear are homophones. Here are two sentences that show the different spelling and meaning of the words. Mrs Morris is wearing a pair of pink shoes. Miss Jordan ate a pear at recess.

Some other examples of homophones are:

  • there, their and they’re
  • see and sea
  • where and wear

We played the Pairs Word Game to help us learn more homophones

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Homonyms are pairs of words that have:

  • the same spelling
  • different meanings.

*** Homonyms can have the same or different pronounciation.

The word bat is a homonym because it has multiple meanings but is always spelt the same. For example: Mrs Morris saw a bat hanging from the tree. Miss Jordan grabbed a cricket bat for an outdoor game. Mrs Morris used all of her strength to bat the ball to Miss Jordan.

Some other examples of homonyms are:

  • skip
  • wave
  • blue

Try The Homonym Game to discover more homonyms

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Are there any particular homophones or homonyms that confuse you?

Can you write an interesting comment using some homophones or homonyms?

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Me, Myself and I: How to Use These Words Correctly

4KM and 4KJ have been learning about a grammatical error that is very common; the two personal pronouns me and I are often used incorrectly. This is a mistake that can be made by people of all ages.

There are times when the word me is needed in a sentence and other times when the word I is needed. For some reason (maybe because they think it sounds babyish), some people are nervous about using the word me so they use the word I instead.

How do you know whether to use me or I?

Generally, the word I goes before the verb (doing word).

Examples:

I went to a party.

She and I went to a party.

Jane, Mike and I went to a party.

***

Generally, the word me goes after the verb.

Examples:

He made some lunch for me.

He made some lunch for Fred and me.

He made some lunch for the teachers, Fred and me.

***

Still not sure?

Take the other nouns of the sentence and try both I and me. See what would make sense.

Example:

Would it be “She took a photo of Sally and me” or “She took a photo of Sally and I”?

She took a photo of I (NO)

She took a photo of me (YES)

She took a photo of Sally and me (YES)

In an effort to teach the community about how to correctly use me and I, 4KM and 4KJ made posters with examples. 

Thank you to Emily and Becky for taking the photos.

What about myself? When should you use that word?

Sometimes people use the word myself when they really mean I or me.

Example:

Please talk to Mrs Hill or myself if you have any questions (NO)

Please talk to me if you have any questions (YES)

Please talk to Mrs Hill or me if you have any questions (YES)

Myself is a reflexive pronoun. That means it expresses something you do to yourself. Sentences that contain the word myself also contain the word I.

The word myself is not supposed to be a commonly used word. It should not be used instead of I or me.

Examples:

I taught myself how to play the piano.

I thought to myself, “I should be more careful!”

I hurt myself when I fell off the monkey bars.

The word myself can also sometimes be used to emphasise the fact that you did something (not someone else). In this case, myself is an intensive pronoun.

Examples:

I did the whole project myself (ie. no one helped you).

I myself cleaned the whole classroom (ie. you did this task alone).

 

Can you leave a comment demonstrating how to use me, myself and I?

Have you seen or heard me, myself or I used incorrectly? What was the mistake?

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Procedural Texts

During the year, 4KM and 4KJ have focussed on a variety of text types or genres during our writing lessons.

This week we have been writing procedural texts.

A procedural text instructs the reader how to do or make something. There are usually three parts to a procedural text:

1. The goal or title – this tells the reader what will be achieved.

2. Requirements or materials – a list of the items needed to achieve the goal.

3. Instructions or method – a step by step description of what the reader needs to do to achieve the goal.

Common procedural texts are recipes, rules for games, science experiments, instructional manuals (eg. putting furniture or toys together) and operating manuals (eg. how to operate a vacuum cleaner).

We learnt that it is very important to be specific when writing the instructions. Every detail possible should be included so that the reader knows exactly what to do.

Here are two examples of procedural texts that were written in our class this week…

How to Eat a Banana

By Trent

What you need:

  • A banana

Method:

1. Firstly, you must get a banana.

2. Hold the banana in your hand with the stem up.

3. Hold the stem with your hand.

4. Pull skin back in any direction.

5. One strip of the banana skin should be off.

6. Get the other two strips of skin and pull them down.

7. All strips of skin should now be down.

8. Hold the banana up to your mouth.

9. Put half a mouthful of banana into your mouth and bite it off.

10. Take the banana away from your mouth.

11. Chew it.

12. Do everything from step 8-13 until done.

13. When finished, put the banana skin in the bin.

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How to Brush Your Teeth

By Liv

Requirements:

  • A soft bristle toothbrush
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Sink
  • Mouthwash or water
  • Cup (optional)
  • Floss (optional)

Instructions:

1. With the toothbrush in one of your hands, squeeze a centimetre of toothpaste onto the bristles of the toothbrush.

2. Turn the tap on cold, and wet your toothbrush to let the toothpaste soften.

3. Put the toothbrush into your mouth and slowly brush in small circles.

4. Make sure you brush all of your top teeth and your bottom teeth, back and front.

5. You should brush your teeth for two to three minutes, twice per day.

6. Once you have finished brushing your teeth, before removing your toothbrush, gently brush the top of your tongue to get rid of any bacteria.

7. Take the toothbrush out of your mouth, turn the tap on cold and rinse your toothbrush out.

8. Grab the cup, fill a quarter of it with water and rinse out your mouth.

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What did you think of Trent and Liv’s procedural texts?

When have you used a procedural text to make or do something?

Do you have a favourite text type or genre of writing?

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Monster Global Project

In 4KM and 4KJ we love working on projects with our blogging buddies. We also enjoy learning about traditions in other countries.

It was recently Halloween and we have just completed a fun monster-themed project with our friends in Mr Avery’s class. Mr Avery’s sixth grade students live in Massachussets, USA.

This is how the project worked:

    1. Students in 4KM and 4KJ were matched up with a partner in Mr Avery’s class.
    2. All students drew a picture of a monster.
    3. Next, the students wrote a detailed description of their own monster.
    4. The two classes switched their writing (but didn’t swap their pictures).
    5. The students had to draw their partner’s monster using the detail in the written description.
    6. We compared the original drawing to the drawing our partner made of the monster!

The results:

The results of the project were so interesting! Here is the writing that 4KM and 4KJ students prepared along with their picture and the picture that their partner in Mr Avery’s class prepared.

We learnt:

  • Writing needs to be very clear and detailed for someone to generate the same mental image that you started with.
  • Writing is an excellent way to help people create a mental image when it is done well.
  • When you leave details out of your writing, people can’t read your mind to imagine what you were thinking.
  • Good readers create mental images when they’re reading.
  • Working together with other classes is fun!

Be sure to check out Mr Avery’s blog post to see the results of his students drawing our monster pictures!

Last year Mr Avery completed the monster project with Mr Salsich’s class. Click here to read about it.

What else did you learn from the project?

After reading our descriptions, did our monsters look the way you imagined?

Have you got any tips for writing good descriptions?

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Apostrophes

In 4KM and 4KJ we are focussing on apostrophes.

An apostrophe is a type of punctuation.

apostrophe

On a keyboard, you can usually find an apostrophe to the left of enter.

keyboard apostrophe

Apostrophes can be confusing. Here are some tips that might help.

Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t know about how to use apostrophes correctly. A lot of people think that any word that ends with an s needs an apostrophe. Remember, plurals do not need an apostrophe.

What is wrong with this picture?

Image: ‘Sofia’s Pizza’s Calzoni’s Kebab’s Burger’s Pakora’s’
http://www.flickr.com/photos/34427470616@N01/2392092122
Found on flickrcc.net

Did our tips help you learn about apostrophes?

What is wrong with the picture? Have you seen any businesses use apostrophes incorrectly before?

Can you make up a sentence that has an apostrophe before an s, after an s and in a contraction?

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The One and Only Ivan

When Mrs Morris was in the USA in June/July she enjoyed meeting many of her blogging buddies. One of the online friends she spent some time with was Mrs Hembree. Mrs Hembree is a teacher-librarian in Seattle, Washington, USA. She writes the Bulldog Readers Library Blog.

Here is Mrs Morris in San Diego with her friend, Mrs Hembree.

Mrs Hembree kindly gave Mrs Morris a gift to take back to 4KM and 4KJ. It was a copy of the book, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. This is a book that Mrs Hembree and her students really enjoyed and recommended.

About the book

Ivan is a gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade with his animal companions. While he is very used to this existence in his domain, he makes a change in his life and the lives of others, with the help of his friends. The One and Only Ivan is a work of fiction that is based on a true story.

Mrs Hembree’s posts

Mrs Hembree has written some great posts about The One and Only Ivan on her blog.

  • Mrs Hembree was lucky enough to have the author, Katherine Applegate, visit her school. Read about it here.
  • She has a friend who visited the “real” Ivan at Zoo Atlanta. That post can be found here.
  • Sadly, Mrs Hembree also published a post about the real Ivan passing away recently. You can read about that here.
Mrs Hembree has even made a fabulous book trailer.

Our reflections

We have been reading a little bit of The One and Only Ivan every day this term and we enjoyed it very much. Today we finished the book! Here are some of the students’ reflections.

 

We would like to say

to our friend Mrs Hembree for introducing us to this wonderful story!

What did you think about The One and Only Ivan? Do you have a reflection to add?

Were there any special messages in The One and Only Ivan?

Can you recommend any other books that the students in 4KM and 4KJ might enjoy?

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