We use Lucy Calkins writing curriculum as our primary resource for writing in the early grades. Her unit on “Authors As Mentors” has always been one of our favorites, however this year we took the project to a whole new level. Mo Willems text is so approachable, an offers young readers and writers many characteristics that can easily be emulated in their own writing.
Here are a few things we gleaned from reading many Elephant & Piggie books as well as The Pigeon stories.
Seriously, what’s better than getting to watch your students observe something another writer does, then add it to their own writing? Case in point … this tweet!
— Zig's Kids (@ZigsKids) February 12, 2015
Then, after adding Mo Willems text features to our own small moment writing, and watching interviews with Mo Willems (I highly recommend these videos from Scholastic!) we decided we really needed to write our own books starring The Pigeon.
Each student started by choosing a title for their Pigeon book, then drew a story board. We took pictures of the storyboards, and saved them all to a iCloud Photo Sharing album called Pigeon Plans. This way students could use their plan from any iPad as they wrote. Learn more about using iCloud Photo Sharing from Jenny Grabiec here.
Then we published our stories on square paper (all The Pigeon books are square), and read them to each other and a stuffed Pigeon.
These stories were incredible. Each day we worked on these stories every child was engaged in WRITING! No squirreling around at all! Focused students, writing hilarious stories. If anyone tries to tell you that The Pigeon stories are too simple for 1st graders, tell them they are wrong! These stories make the readers infer and question. These young writers learned about expression, how to place a speech bubble on the page so that it was read in the right order, and so much more!
Curious to read our stories? Come back soon for the next post on how we published them with iMovie.