How To books with a first grader

During the school year I give my first graders the task of creating their own “How-To” book.  They love book-making and the task analysis really gets them thinking about how things work.  We read lots of “How To” books to prepare for it and have lots of discussions about how they are written.  

I usually steer the topics of their How To books towards something that *can* be broken down into obvious and definite steps.   This is why, when I came upon this title: 

  (It says HOW TO – I fudged the scanning!)

I was a little hesitant about allowing him to continue.  BUT he’s a stinker and I didn’t want to argue with him so I allowed it.  

The following are clips of the planning page we use before we dive into book making.  Usually this is the place where I will say that their topic is too broad (or too narrow) and I try to steer them toward something they can chew on.  The activity is about writing first, task analysis second, choosing a topic notatall.  Please be aware that after the ‘materials’ block there is only room for 5 steps.

It started off okay: 

This is the materials page.  It has a list of all the materials you would need to write.  That big blue thing with the beady eyes is a pencil sharpener.  Spelled : charpener.  Its spelled that way because that is the way he says it.   This kid has a thing for charpeners.  He stole mine.  A nice one.  And he never gave it back.  I’m not dwelling.  Materials page.  Check.

Step one and two.  Okay, I’m not the least bit surprised that he worked in sharpening the pencil as a whole step.  It *does* make sense and did I mention that this kid is obsessed with pencil sharpening?  Ask me how he did on Field Day.  The second step is kind of a cop out.  I shoulda seen the rest coming but when have I been good at signals?

OKay – step three.  Remember – there are only five steps.  There are too many things wrong with this – I just don’t know where to start.  But I’ll tell you that the major problem was accepting the topic in the first place.  After that, I tried so hard to make everything fit after….*sigh* 

So, for one thing – please ignore the tense.  He’s a first grader for Chrissake.  Next, I would have a BIG problem with a How To book that simply states “and then you__”.  HOW?!?  

Steps four and five (may they rest in peace) continued with “and then you write some more” and “and then you write some more”.  I shit you not.  And now you know why they are resting in peace.  

So now we discuss why its important to EXPLAIN how to write.  We reread the How To books we modeled.  We look at my example again.  He reads some of his peers’ work.  He TELLS me how to write and what his plans are…..

….and then he sits there for a REAL LONG TIME doing absolutely nothing.

So again we discuss why its important to EXPLAIN how to write.  We reread the How To books we modeled.  We look at my example again.  He reads some of his peers’ work.  He TELLS me how to write and what his plans are…..

***this goes on a few more times***

Eventually, he’s good and annoyed at me.  Which, in hindsight, is decent payback for stealing my pencil sharpener.  

And he turns out this: 

Although he was never given the chance to finish it (ahem) the fifth panel would have read “and then your charpen it again”, I’m sure.

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4 Responses to “How To books with a first grader”

  1. PearlsOfTruth Says:

    I’m sorry… but I am laughing so hard 🙂 that is so cute. At least this kid was focussed, he had a one-track mind. Look out for him in years to come… he is the sort that will own warehouses and factories ~ full of? You guessed it, sharpeners. 😉

  2. PearlsOfTruth Says:

    Correction: charpeners 😉

  3. Dawn Says:

    Lol! Oh, yes – *very* focused! What was *I* thinking? I was too frustrated to turn it into a ‘how to charpen your pencil’ book!

  4. PearlsOfTruth Says:

    LOL… oops just realised I mispelt ‘focused’ 😉

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