Laura Numeroff, author If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and numerous other books, is a favorite among our first graders. So for our Authors as Mentors writing unit, our first graders decided to study and try to write books just like her! Of course, a lot of learning needed to happen before we could write and sound like her. We had to learn how Laura writes her books. We read every one of her books and noticed the structure she uses. Her stories include a character which follow a cause/effect/effect/effect relationship. This means if you give a mouse a cookie, he would then want a glass of milk, and then a napkin, and then a broom, etc. We also noticed Laura uses a circular format in her writing--what happens to the character at the beginning happens to the character at the end of the story too.
When we finished analyzing Laura Numeroff books, students used their creativity to write their own books! Students brainstormed different characters and objects, they ranged from “if you give a mummy a pizza” to “if you give a spider a present”. Once students had their title/theme, they began planning what would happen to their character. Writing partners helped students by watching them act out what their character would do next with their object making sure their proposed sequence of events made sense. Students expanded upon their ideas by including dialogue and transition words within their sentences. Next, students enhanced their stories with detailed and colorful illustrations, making sure their pictures matched their writing.
Finally, students shared their writing with the Crew as they reflected on one thing they were proud of and one thing they want to improve in their writing.
First graders really enjoyed writing like Laura Numeroff. It was fun and engaging. They took great pride in their writing! Their work can now be found in their portfolio--something that will travel with them from grade-to-grade and be shared with their families at Student Led Conferences.
Here is an example of one of the amazing pieces of writing a first grade student wrote: If You Give Godzilla a Cupcake, by Brandon.