At the recent iste conference (International Society for Technology in Education) I came across some first graders from a school in California who were displaying a project they did. It was a very clever, fun way to work on descriptive writing. If the students did not include sufficient details in what they wrote, the results of the project would not be as desirable. The more descriptive the writing, the happier the students would be with the final product. Here’s what the project looked like:
 The first thing each student did was draw a monster. They were encouraged to make their monsters as crazy, silly, and zany as they wanted. The pictures I saw included monsters with one eye, extra arms, purple hair and so forth. When their artistic creation was complete, they then had to write a description of their monster. The students were motivated to carefully describe every inch of their monster, because when they were done, just the description was sent to first grade students in Turkey.  When these students got the descriptions, it was their job to draw the monster themselves as best they could. The students in California did the same thing with descriptions sent by the Turkish students. Nobody saw any of the original drawings until the big moment: when all the results were revealed. The students were truly excited to see how the pictures measured up. At the conference, they showed me a book of all the monster pairs, side by side, and jumped at the opportunity to show me how their own monster was described and drawn.


While it might be difficult to find some willing participants in Turkey, this project can be recreated right at home. You could pair up with your child or have siblings collaborate on this monster exchange project. During these summer months, it’s important to work on skills such as writing now and then. This is a great way to motivate them to write. If a child has a specific purpose for writing, he or she will put more time and effort into their work.


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