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Imaginative Picture Writing

Grade Level: Grade 3-5 or combination of grade 1 and grade 5
Estimated Time for Completing Activity: Three 60-minute time blocks

Learning Outcomes: The students will:
  • observe, identify, and creatively express their ideas through literature
  • use both verbal and non-verbal communication skills during a paired planned presentation of their story.
National Standards:
  • Science Content Standard A: Science as Inquiry
  • Science Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science
Virginia Standards of Learning:
  • English 1.1 : The student will continue to demonstrate growth in the use of oral language.
  • English 2.2 : The student will expand understanding and use of word meanings.
  • English 3.2 : The student will present brief oral reports using visual media.
  • English 3.10 : The student will edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.
  • English 4.2 : The student will make and listen to oral presentations and reports.
  • English 4.3 : The student will learn how media messages are constructed and for what purposes.
  • English 4.7 : The student will write cohesively for a variety of purposes.
  • English 5.2 : The student will use effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills to deliver planned oral presentations.
  • English 5.8 : The student will edit writing for correct grammar, capitalization, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraphing.
  • If a first grade class is combined with an older group (fifth grade is used in the Procedure), then the students should have reasonable listening skills, and be able to follow directions.
  • The fifth grade group should have general knowledge of cloud types and appearance.
  • The book, It Looked Like Spilt Milk, written by Charles G. Shaw.
  • Paper and pencil
  • Crayons
  • Stapler
  • String
  • Ribbon
  • Hole punch
Lesson Links:

With emphasis on cross-curricular use of reading and writing (literacy skills), this is a lesson that provides teachers an opportunity to work with other grade-levels, and the peer-teaching concept. Teachers may use any grade-level appropriate book and connect it to the subject matter. To support a unit on clouds, or to go along with participation in the S'COOL project, the lesson can be used as introduction or enrichment, or for review.

Procedure: Combine a first grade class with a fifth grade class.
  1. Read It Looked Like Spilt Milk to the combined classes. The book has white clouds on a blue background. Simple clouds look like something other than clouds (dogs, sheep, rabbits, ice-cream cones, etc.).
  2. Allow time for students to go outside and observe the different kinds of clouds they see in the sky. Have them draw pictures of the different types of clouds they are able to observe.
  3. Return to the classroom and using the S'COOL Cloud Chart label the names of the different type of clouds that were observed.
  4. Pair each first grader with a fifth grader. Have the students compile simple descriptions and illustrations into a book. Pairs can work together.
  5. The first grader will enjoy drawing a variety of clouds and verbalizing the descriptions as the fifth grader scribes the description
  6. The stories will be presented orally to the class. This would be a great activity to share at an Open House for their parents.
  • Ask each fifth grader to choose a cloud type, and teach the first grader about that cloud-type.
  • Take both groups outside (with additional adult supervision) to make a cloud observation, take photos, or draw illustrations,
Teacher Notes:
  • The strategy used in this lesson may be applicable to other subject matter.  Using a read-aloud, then pairing two grade-levels for an art or other craft illustration of the subject matter, can be used in other subjects.

This activity is intended to support participation in the S'COOL project, but can be used as an introduction or review of clouds (for the fifth graders) and a literacy enrichment experience (for the first graders).  If the teacher needs a more formal assessment, a teacher-developed rubric or other assessment tool may be used.

Reference: Lesson contributed by S'COOL workshop participants; updated July 2012 by the S'COOL team.

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