If you are just joining us, we have been talking about how writing can seem so overwhelming for some kids. However, with a plan those same kids can succeed at writing. Having that plan is what the writing process is all about. In our last post we went over the first step of our writing process, brainstorming. If you missed it, check out the post The Visual Writing Process for Kids – Part 1 to see what we have already covered. For now, let’s move on with part 2 in our writing process. My goal is to help you bring a more visual way to see writing to your kids, and just maybe help them to like writing. Let’s get started with part 2.
The Rough Draft
The Rough Draft is where this idea the kids have been pondering starts to turn into a piece of writing. However, for kids who are already overwhelmed by writing in the first place, telling them to turn their ideas into paragraphs doesn’t help. So, we need to break down this step into some smaller steps, and when we do, make them visual. In our last post we talked about the brainstorming map. Let me bring that sheet back up here to refresh your memory.
Let me show you how I would help my kid with this example of writing about their favorite vacation trip to Maine. The first step in this rough draft phase is to talk to your child about focusing on one of the larger bubbles. In this example, let’s focus on Walking on the Beach. Remind them of what they pointed out as things they really remembered from walking on the beach, finding shells, squishy mud between my toes, time with Mom, and the water was cold. Pick one of those 4 things they mentioned and have your child talk through that one area of the trip. My guess is your child will come up with several things to tell you about, probably using more than one sentence. Our goal here in this discussion with your child is to get them thinking about details. Once they have some details remembered about say finding shells (using our example), then it is time to start writing. Now wait, I do not mean handing your kid a pencil and walking away while they write. That is not what I am getting at here, at all. Our goal is to get your child to write a sentence or two or three about that one part of walking on the beach. At this point to do worry about if the sentences do not seem to be in any specific order or if there are many spelling or grammar errors, we will fix that later. Right now the goal is to get your kid writing more details than just, finding shells.
Remember that in our mind map I showed you how each bubble could represent a different paragraph in their paper. So, even though they are writing a few sentences about one part of that bubble do not make them feel like they need to write more than just a sentence or two. If your child only comes up with one sentence right now that is fine. A paragraph typically contains anywhere from 5-7 sentences. Even in this example of Walking on the Beach, we already came up with 4 detailed things to write about. With only one sentence each, that is already 4 sentences and we are very close to completing a paragraph already.
Once your child has written out a few sentences for each detailed section of one bubble topic, go ahead and have your child cut out their sentences into strips. If they write out one sentence for these 4 details, they should have 4 sentence strips. This is where we are going to give your child the visual aspect they need to make writing enjoyable. Remind your child that even though they are writing about their favorite vacation and showing it to their mom, have them imagine they are telling someone who may not know them at all. So, if someone who doesn’t know them at all was reading a paragraph about them walking on the beach, what part of the story would they want to hear first.
Have them look at their newly cut out sentence strips and have them pick out which sentence helps to tell the reader that first part of walking on the beach. Have them put that sentence strip on the table in front of them. Now which sentence would come next in the story? Have them put whatever sentence they picked out underneath the last sentence strip. Continue in this manner until they have lined up all their sentence strips. Now that all their sentence strips are lined up, have them read aloud the sentences in order from top to bottom. After they have done that, ask them if the order they have them in makes sense to the story they are trying to tell the reader about. If it does, great. If it doesn’t then have them rearrange the sentences until they fit in the right order. Once they have their sentences in the correct order, have them glue their sentence strips to another piece of paper, in that same order.
Now it is time to go onto the next bubble. Depending on how much time the first bubble took for your child, it might make sense to break this up over several days. I have been known in the past to have my kid only work on one bubble a day when writing really was a struggle. That is okay. If writing is a struggle for your kiddo, than let them take it slow. Giving them the time they need will only help them learn that writing isn’t so hard, and maybe even fun.
Have your child go through the same process as before with each detailed bubble.
Talk through the bubble’s details.
Write out sentences for each detail.
Cut out the sentences into strips.
Rearrange the strips in a logical sequence.
Glue the sentence strips to another piece of paper.
When they have finally gotten all their bubble sentences in their proper order, it is time to put the bubbles in order. Go ahead and have your child look over their bubble sentence strip sheets and see what part of the story came first. Using our example, did they walk on the beach first or did they go blueberry picking or did they eat lobster first. Have them put their sentence strip sheets in order now.
Believe it or not but your child has already put together several paragraphs of their paper. For a short paper like what we are talking about, all that would be left to write would be an opening paragraph and a closing paragraph. I explain to my kids that the opening paragraph is pretty much an overview of what is coming up in the story. As for the closing paragraph that paragraph is really just summarizing what was already talked about. Ask your child what they would say to someone before telling them about the detailed bubbles. Maybe it would be something like…
Our family has gone on many vacations, but out of all those vacations there is just one that I would have to call my favorite. It was our trip to Maine when I was 7. I had so much fun there. I got to walk on the beach, go blueberry picking and even got to eat a lobster. As I look back on that vacation there were so many other things that I am excited to share with you.
Go ahead and have them write down what they would like to add to the beginning of their paper to open up their story to the reader. Once they have done that, it is time to focus on the closing paragraph. What would they like to say to someone before they move on to another paper? Maybe it might sound something like…
As a family we have gone on a lot of vacations. Maine however, was my favorite. With all the things I got to experience like walking on the beach, going blueberry picking and eating a lobster I realize how lucky I am that my parents were able to take me there. I hope that you are able to one day take a trip to Maine and experience at least some of what I did. It would be a trip you would never forget.
Go ahead and have them write down what they would like to end their paper with. Once your kids have those last two paragraphs written, this rough draft step of the writing process is completed. Yeah! So while writing out the details of the trip may have seemed hard at first, we were able to take it step by step, make it visual, and in turn simplified what can be an overwhelming process.