In my experience, kids have such a mental block when it comes to writing. They sit and think and say “I don’t know what to write about.” So I’m trying to get rid of that phrase in my classroom, at least for our personal narrative unit. They think that their stories need to be perfect and amazing before they even put pencil to paper. Personal narratives are great because the kids have an infinite number of stories from their lives: big fancy vacations in other countries to hanging out with their best friend in their backyard, and everywhere in between. What I try to get across to them is that every story counts and none of them will be perfect.
It’s also important that the kids see me walking the talk and writing along with them! We write a ton of small moments in this unit, and every time I ask my kids to start a new story, I write one as well! That way they see me doing what I ask them to do: writing!
So here are some of my sloppy copies, first drafts, just getting all the ideas out of my head. Most of them aren’t finished. It’s just me modeling and showing my kids that writing isn’t as hard as they think it is. I had my kids pick one person that was important to them and think of as many memories with that person as they could. The person I chose for these few stories is my sister, Kelly. You’ll see that I am a fan of jumping right into the moment and using a mystery hook so that my reader doesn’t know right off the bat where the story is taking place. I’m also trying to get my kids to use their five senses in their writing, so I do it a ton 😉 Here goes nothing:
Snap Snap Snap Snap
I got clipped into my heavy harness. My hair tickled mu ear as I put on my headset.
“Test, test, can you hear me?” I heard in my ear. I took a sip of cool water to stop the sweat from trickling down my back. I bounced up and down while I waited. I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to get started. I took a selfie with my sister as we waited for the rest of the group to get checked in. “Come on over here, everyone!” said a man standing near us. “Welcome to the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’m Davis and Jay and I will be your guides today.”
Then we took a silly group picture acting like African animals.
We walked through DAK to a secret door. We got some pretty strange looks along the way because of all the gear we were wearing. As we went through the door I could hear leaves rustling as the noise of park guests died away. We were backstage in the hippo habitat. It smelled like fresh earth and trees. I smiled because I knew we were in for an exciting adventure.
And here’s a second small moment story from the same day:
Up Close and Personal with Some Crocodiles
Click! My harness was clipped in. I took a deep breath, full of excitement. In this moment, I was very glad I was not afraid of heights. I stepped out onto the swinging rope bridge and looked down at the crocodiles sleeping 20 feet below me.
The harness was practically strangling me, so I felt secure, knowing that I was completely safe. There was no way I could possibly fall and get devoured in one bite. So I enjoyed the moment, looking all around. I could see green trees for miles around. In the distance I could see the top of The Tree of Life. It’s not a real tree of course. It has more than 103,000 fake leaves that were swinging in the warm Florida breeze. I was swinging back and forth too as I slowly took one step at a time. I looked to my right and I could see my sister, Kelly, on a rope bridge next to me.
We were on the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It was a present that Kelly had given me for my birthday. It was so cool to see the safari truck drive underneath us. I love getting to see entirely new points of view. It helps me keep my life in perspective. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On Cloud Nine
It felt just like riding a bike… except for smoother, and quieter, and oh, did I mention that we were 85 feet in the air?
Last summer I was on vacation with my family in Maui, Hawaii, and at this particular moment my sister Kelly and I were parasailing high above the Pacific Ocean. I was expecting it to be loud and bumpy and crazy, much like the boat ride we took to get there, but it wasn’t at all! I felt super calm and happy. The ride was so smooth, it really just felt like we were sitting on the beach chatting.
We dangled our feet in the air and tried to drink everything in. We really wanted to savor the moment because it was a moment that we knew wouldn’t last very long. We could see practically the whole island of Maui, including the volcano, Haleakala. I could smell the salty sea air and feel the breeze in my hair. My heart was full and I was happy and content in that moment.