With my Science units I always add in writing, it is a great way to squeeze in both subjects. The type of writing I always use in our plant unit is “sequence writing” or “how to writing”.
It works great for students learning the lifecycle of plants or other life cycles like the butterfly. However, we don’t just jump right in and do sequence writing. I have a few mini lessons that lead up to the writing part
We start small with talking about everyday things like “getting ready for bed” or “getting ready for school”. It is something they all do, but it might vary slightly. We sort pictures of getting ready for bed and then add sentences to them. I like to do this as a whole group lesson. This is a great time for other students to hear each other’s thinking.
I have students try it on their own and add sentences to them. If you use differentiation in your classroom, this works well to differentiate. Your lowest level students are just going to be able to sort the pictures and then talk about them. Where the higher students can sort and add wording.
We – Do You – Do (AKA Modeling)
Then I show the students as a whole group how I take my pictures and my sentences and make it into a sequence story or how to story. Again, the higher students will need to add more details to their sentences. I always like to do this activity a few more times so that students understand the method before going onto the next level.
Sequencing a Story
Now we are going to sequence a story! This will work for almost any narrative picture book you have. But I like to use familiar stories like The 3 Little Pigs or Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. There are some great variation stories out there that are so fun to use.
Some ways to differentiate is to have different groups read a different variation of the story and sequence that version. Also, if you are able, print off or use online Reading A-Z books, there are some great simple books that the students can read themselves.
My favorite one to use is The Little Red Hen. Click HERE to get the FREEBIE Mini Book.
I included a Mini Book version of it in my sequence writing unit. It is a great short story and is easy to read and has a clear sequence to it. Plus, it is about planting corn, so it goes great with our planting unit.
I actually do an entire ELA unit using The Little Red Hen, I love the theme and there is a lot to do with it. CLICK HERE for the unit.
Now that we have gotten further in our sequencing practice, I have the students draw 4-6 pictures from the story in order. Then they write the sentences about the story. Depending on the level of the students, they may need some assistance.
We then turn those sentences into a writing, this is the beginning for some students to summarize stories. Again, this may take some modeling. Now they are ready to try on their own. Have them use a book that is at their level if possible, or do a whole class read aloud and use that book.
Informational Sequence Writing
Now we are ready to try it with an informational book on plants. In my plant units, I include 2 levels of mini books on how plants grow and a few close reading articles on the parts of plants. All are differentiated so it can work with various levels.
If you are not familiar with Close Reading, I include specific directions on how to use Close Reading in the classroom in my full Plant Unit. Students really like it because the passage is usually quite a bit above their level. But when you break it down the way that we do, many can read most of it by the end of the week.
After students have read their informational books or close reading articles, it is time to sequence the steps it takes to grow a plant. I love having them add pictures to it. For some it helps to draw first, but others it helps to write it out.
Some kids have too many steps and for these it would be helpful for them to write on another paper and then pick just 4 or 6 (depends on the template) of the most important steps.
Lastly, we turn those sentences into writing, by adding in those sequence words. For the higher students I expect them to add more details.
I love how we end this unit with turning this writing into a craftivity, yes that is a word. Sometimes I have them fit their writing all on one acorn and we make a cute bulletin board out of it. Other times I have them make a book out of it. They illustrate each step and write about it in their little books. It is a great practice for them to re-read their own books or to read them to each other.