Monday, February 10, 2014

Diary of a Critter

Who: Students in the elementary years

What: Write a diary from the perspective of a critter, as Doreen Cronin did in Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Fly, and Diary of a Spider.

1. Simply enjoy Cronin's books: the illustrations, the humor, the brilliant use of personification. (If you want to review personification or show your students examples of personification in movies, watch the video below. While you're at it, do a little Editing-on-the-Go and see if you can spot a spelling and grammar error. Tsk. Tsk.)

2. Notice similarities in each of the books. We'll start with the obvious: they are all diaries. (Phew, I'm glad we figured that one out!) They are written in first person. They mix fiction and non-fiction. (One excellent example is the June 7 entry of Diary of a Fly. Fly is nervously anticipating his first day of school (fiction) when he asks (fiction): "What if I'm the only one who eats regurgitated food?" (non-fiction). They have scrapbook pages, including pictures and captions. Anything else?

3. Brainstorm possible critters to study. Actually, anything non-human will be fine. Find books and websites about the topic. Read and study, recording interesting and important information on this sheet*. I recommend setting sources aside when it's time to write. Otherwise, it's very tempting to use another person's words with minor tweaking here and there.

4. Plan the diary. This sheet* might be helpful.

*I found these sheets at Writing Fix. For some students, they provide needed support. If your students can run with their ideas, no props necessary, by all means let them. Don't mush them into a mold.

5. Revisit the planning sheet (or first draft). Ask questions for revision. Is the order of the entries logical? Can any words be strengthened?  Can any sentences be reworded to make them flow better? Have you read the entries aloud to hear how they sound? Are there any words or sentences that confuse you or make you stumble?

6. Check the conventions: spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc. 

7. Ready the text for sharing with others (illustrations, a fun scrapbook page, a cool font, whatever will announce to potential readers that they must pick it up).

I'd love to see your favorite entry in the comments. Please share!

Note: Although the planning sheets come from Writing Fix, I did not take this lesson from there. It came from my own thinker. : )

A Second Note: This post contains affiliate links.

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