Motivate children to write using calendar pictures! Do not overlook calendar pictures. I’ve had GREAT success motivating children to write using calendar pictures in my year round writing camps and workshops!
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This post covers three things:
- How calendar pictures motivate children to write
- 5 ways to use calendar pictures with beginner writers
- 14 writing prompts to go along with calendar pictures
Calendar Pictures Motivate Children to Write!
Being able to choose a picture to write about or to accompany a story is highly motivating to young writers.
Not too long ago, in a descriptive writing camp, we were writing 5 minute descriptive lists to go along with our calendar pages. A 9 year old boy looked at a few of the calendar pages and smirked, “I don’t like any of these pictures.” I immediately responded, “Did you see the race cars?”
Those excited him. He ended up writing lists for his race car calendar picture and a scenic picture. Moreover, he eagerly raised his hand to have a turn in reading his lists.
He’s the only student I’ve ever had show any resistance towards calendar pictures. And even he made a quick turn around. The kids truly love them!
They’re easy to get.
So, New Years rolls around. Everyone gets a new calendar. But what do they do with the old one? Toss it! (usually) Well, toss it no more! Go ahead and start asking your family and friends to give you their old calendars.
There is a store here called The Scrap Exchange that always has a lot. You can get a huge bag full of old used and unused calendars for $5.00. Here’s a stack of calendars I bought there not too long ago.
Most recently, Calendars.com generously donated a box full of outdated calendars to Fun Writing Ideas. I use them in my own lessons and also give them away to teachers and homeschool parents who will use them in their writing lessons.
Using Calendar Pictures with Beginner Writers
Here are 5 ways to use calendars to motivate children to write and strengthen young writers specifically. Kids LOVE to choose a calendar picture! If you have a large group of students, make sure you have more calendars than students so each child can truly choose a picture.
Common Core State Standards
NOTE: Common Core State Standards that can be addressed in each exercise are listed below in parentheses.
- First, have the child label the objects in the picture by writing the beginning sound. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1.A, RF.K.1.B)
This is great for beginner writers who are learning their letter strokes and the beginning sounds of words. They can label the objects that they see several ways:
- Using ABC stickers*
- Writing the letter on a piece of paper and pasting it (above example)
- Or, writing the letter on white sticky labels
Writing One Word
2. Second, label the objects in the picture with one word. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2.D)
Here, the children phonetically spell the words that they see. That means they say the word slowly and write the sounds that they hear. The words most likely will not be spelled correctly.
3. Third, write sight word sentences to describe the picture. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.2, L.K.2.A, L.K.2.C, L.K.2.D, L.1.2, L.1.2.B, L.1.2.D, L.1.2.E)
Here the children write 1-3 sight words sentences, depending on age and ability. (To read the full post on teaching sight word sentences, click here.)
The sight word sentence above is: There are _____.
Writers should spell the sight words (in this case, There are____) correctly because those are the words they are learning.
Secondly, students choose the word that they want to write in the blank. The blank words are spelled phonetically. That means the children are writing the letters/sounds that they hear. Whichever word they write in the blank may or may not be spelled correctly.
When my son was 4 1/2 he wrote:
We cut out the paper and glued it to the calendar picture.
Now, a year later at 5 1/2, he wrote:
Writing sight word sentences can be done in one of two ways:
ONE: Children can write the sentence on a piece of white paper, cut it out and glue it to the picture (as in the tiger sample.)
TWO: Students can write the sentence on a full 8.5”x 11” piece of paper. Here the child is not bound by space or lines. Remind the child to write left to right, top to bottom.
In addition, the size of letters doesn’t matter too much as long as they can fit their sentences on the page. Place the 8.5″x 11 page back to back with the calendar picture in a plastic page protector*.
Finally, place the calendar picture in the child’s binder for reading and review.
Story or Information
4. Fourth, write a story or information. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.K.1, L.K.2, L.K.2.A, L.K.2.C, L.K.2.D, L.1.2, L.1.2.B, L.1.2.D, L.1.2.E)
Children can write a story or information about their calendar picture. When my oldest son was 5 1/2 years old, he wrote about lions.
We discussed what he knew about them:
- how they look
- where they live and what they eat
- what they can do with their legs
This is what he wrote:
He combined sight words that he knew with phonetic spelling (explained above in #2.
When the child is done writing, you can put the story back to back with the calendar picture in a plastic page protector*.
Then, place the story in the child’s binder. They LOVE to go back and read what they have written!
5. Fifth, write 5 questions about the picture. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.C, L.K.1.D, L.K.2, L.K.2.A, L.1.2, L.1.2.B)
Using the words who, what, when, where and why, children write 5 different questions about the picture.
Depending on ability, the child can write all 5 questions in one sitting OR the child can write one question per day or even one question per week.
Question words are addressed in Level 3 of Sight Word Sentences
Print these 5 Writing Ideas
14 Writing Prompt Ideas
Now let’s look at 14 writing prompt ideas that you can use with students in Grades K-5. Again, I can’t state enough that calendar pictures are a winner at my writing camps EVERY TIME! They serve as a most simple art accent and definitely motivate children to write.
Additionally, they serve as a reward for their work! The themes are endless. It’s something the kids can hold on to, look at closely and keep to take home. They love them and choosing their picture is half the fun. So, always make sure you have more pictures than children so they can truly choose.
Here is a list of 14 writing prompt ideas that I have used in my writing camps that have yielded great results!
- Use a scenic picture to write personification around it. Find the full lesson here.
2. Use a scenic picture to write a Haiku poem. See the full lesson here.
3. Use a picture of a landmark from around the world. Write a diamond poem about it. Check out how to write a diamond poem here.
4. Use a scenic picture to write a descriptive introduction to a fictional story. Here’s a sample lesson plan that can be applied to almost any scenic page.
5. Use a scenic picture to go along with the writing prompt titled “Exhausted Electronics”. It can be found in my post titled: 6 Science Fiction Guided Writing Lessons for Kids.
A to Z Poem
6. Use a horse or kitten picture to write an A to Z poem. Here’s the full lesson.
7. Use a horse picture to go along with the prompt titled, “I’d Love to be Your Pet!,” a non-fiction essay told by the horse. Click here to get the full lesson.
8. Use any animal picture to write non-fiction.
9. Use an animal picture to write a quote that accompanies a full story.
This was an absolute favorite one summer ago in the fantasy writing camp. The children chose an animal page and had to write the one sentence that the animal was saying. This sentence was a turning point in the story. Check out the full guided writing lesson here.
10. Students choose a cat or dog picture to write a persuasive letter convincing their mom or dad that they’re ready for a pet! You can find the full lesson here.
11. Use a picture of an unusual animal to write a fictional letter to a friend. The letter introduces your new “pet”. Here’s the full lesson.
12. Use an animal picture for a comic monologue, dialogue or 3+ character conversation. Check out the full lesson here!
13. Use any picture to write a 5 Minute Descriptive List. Students love this exercise and often ask to do the exercise more than once!
14. Use any page for rhyme. I’ve been teaching summer camps for 7 years now. Every year there’s a poetry camp and every poetry camp entails a calendar picture lesson. Returning campers love it, remember it and look forward to it!
Find the full lesson here.
Print the List of 14 Writing Prompt Ideas!
I have more calendar ideas that I simply haven’t posted yet. There’s definitely more to come. If you’d like to receive new ideas regularly, you can subscribe below to my free monthly newsletter!
Also, if you’ve thought of an idea yourself and just need calendars to go along with it, www.calendars.com has so many to choose from! Thank you Calendars.com again for your donated calendars and for helping us motivate children to write!