Original FREE “Frosty the Snowman” Lesson Blog
I recently had dinner with a former colleague of mine, and we were reminiscing about several character lessons we had used when we collaborated teaching first grade writing.
One of the wonderful opportunities I had during my 38-year career in public education was to have a position for several years as Language Arts teacher in grades K-3. One of my tasks was to work with teachers to implement Braidy the StoryBraid®/Story Grammar Marker® within regular education settings. Not only did the SGM® play a major role in establishing collaboration between regular and special education personnel, it also provided a common framework for students as they worked in a variety of settings.
Check out these specific blogs related to collaboration on our website; there is much more on our site you may find helpful:
Below is one example of a collaborative effort that we used in January of first grade: a time when we were ready to begin more formal writing activities using SGM/Braidy. The SGM® or Braidy® Character Map is a wonderful scaffold for student use. The categories had already been introduced and were familiar to kindergarten and first grade students with the many activities/lessons we had previously done. January was our time to formally model how to use the complete map to write a basic character description in first grade.
This format could be used at any grade level, and at any time, modified to meet the needs of your students.
I used an overhead at the time, but you may use whatever you have access to or are most comfortable with. Chart paper was always something I had available as I traveled from class to class and could easily store the papers during the process. Below are step-by-step instructions.
Read/sing Frosty the Snowman for enjoyment.
Show the Braidy Character Map and review the categories.
Write Frosty’s name under the Character icon.
Invite children to share information that you will list in each of the categories. The sample shown below is an actual copy of one that was done whole group in a first grade class at the former Juniper Park School in Westfield, MA.
- I always went in the same order and would initially number the categories before I started using the map: Age/Gender (#1); Physical Appearance (#2); Personality (#3); Likes/Dislikes (#4). You will be surprised at how easily students become familiar with these labels—academic terms—and enjoy using the map!
- Keep reinforcing that you are making a list under each category. This will be familiar to students due to the work you have done prior to this lesson, building the foundation for an easy transition to using the complete map. (Check out our Braidy Manual and others or online blogs—a listing appearing at the end of this blog shows easier-to-more-complex examples of the many uses from this basic map) and/or our lesson page for ideas.)
- Note the word “sphere”…a vocabulary word from math lessons at the time!
Review the completed map with the students and tell them that the next day, they will work with you to put the map into sentences.
The next day: Show the completed map from the day before.
Elicit responses from the children putting the lists into sentences. As you use each bit of information, going in order, check it off on your map after you write the sentences. This little technique will make it easier for students when they are just beginning to write sentences. As students become more proficient, they do not need to keep doing this, unless needed.
Notice the word “and” in the third sentence. Ask: “Who could use button nose and eyes-coal in a sentence?”...leading the children to use the word “and.” Use this technique again for the words under Personality. (See our Cohesive Tie JAR-gon Activity Kit for additional ideas for sentence-level development.)
Read the completed paragraph with the students aloud.
Have a map and completed paragraph, as shown above, ready for each student.
Have each child follow along as you model underlining what is on the map in the paragraph. They will do the same along with you. (Reinforce that we took a list and made sentences and the sentences are a whole paragraph.)
This is a powerful visual/activity for students to participate in.
Here, depending on the group, I asked students to count the number of sentences in the paragraph. Then, I would count them on the overhead (6, again reinforcing lists, sentences… paragraph… This fits nicely into all the work with sentences that you would have done up until this time). Ask students to put their names on the papers and collect them.
Review what you have done and then after pairing students, hand out the papers from the day before and have them read the completed paragraphs to one another.
Share the art project. You will need: glue, scissors, a simple circle pattern, white construction paper, a simple hat pattern, black construction paper, and buttons. I found a jar of buttons at our local dollar store, and have seen them recently. Children can follow the directions shown to create Frosty.
Have the students take the completed map/paragraph and art project home to share.
From this point on, use the Character Map as you read various stories with the children and model, model, model the writing process both in small and whole group lessons. You can easily see how you can expand on this basic lesson for a variety of grades/student needs. The results will amaze you!
Check out some of these previous blogs so that you will see the scope of using the map above. The blogs below are in order from easier-to-more-advanced, all stemming from the Character Icon and Map(s) available in our Braidy/SGM manuals.
Sheila Zagula works with MindWing Concepts in product development, drawing on her expertise and talents as well as many years of implementing the Story Grammar Marker® and related materials. Her teaching career spans thirty-eight years, most recently as literacy coach in the Westfield Massachusetts Public School System. Sheila has experience as an early childhood educator, a teacher of children with special needs, and a collaborative instructor within an inclusion framework serving children in grades K-5.
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