Norma Simon wrote I Know What I Like, a picture book with a very specific pattern.

The first set goes like this:
I like to make pudding.

I like to make pictures.

I like to make faces.

But I don't like to make my bed or pick up in my room. (I do it anyway.)
The rest are like it.

I like to (verb)....

I like to (same verb)....

I like to (same verb)....

But I don't like to (same verb)....

After reading the book together, talk about the pattern: three likes followed by a don't like. (If you can't find a copy of this out-of-print book, you can still easily do the assignment. The prewriting sheet will help you.)

Under Set 1 on the prewriting sheet,
write an example together. If you have a student new to writing, the sentences can be simple like Simon's. For students who can do more, encourage longer, more detailed sentences.

Here is one student's example:

I like to make fresh chocolate chip cookies (and eat them).

I like to make up funny jokes that make me laugh so hard I cry.

I like to make whoopie pies with aunt Elisabeth because we don't see her very often and she makes great whoopie pies!  I like it because sometimes Poppop sticks M & M's in them when Grandmom is not looking because if she is he is in big time trouble!

I don't like to make "awkward scenes" in the grocery store because that turns my mom hot pink and I throw a fit and sooner or later my bottom starts hurting from that spanking! Well, I have never done it, but I also don't want to try.
Invite your children to work on the other three sets.

If appropriate, push your writers beyond their first draft. Revising their writing will polish it, making it shine a little brighter.

Please post an "I like/I don't like" set in the comments.
Do you have reluctant writers in the house? Maybe you can entice them with an easy assignment: an acrostic poem about themselves because, you know, it's pretty easy to write about ourselves.
1. Have them write their names vertically on a sheet of paper. 








2. Ask them to write descriptive phrases of themselves for each letter. Janessa's looks like this:

Jr is my nickname that my dad gave to me when I was little. It stands for Janessa Renae.

crazy human being (that can sometimes be annoying)

ever has, never will like going to bed

ats lots of baked oatmeal because it is very "rumbly to my tumbly"

ugar is what I like best because it is good to eat but it is not good for you.

hopping is fun to do with Grandmom because she gets me anything I want.

n actress

3. You have a choice here. You can accept the acrostics "as is," or you can encourage your writers to go beyond the first phrases spilled out on paper, revising some or all of the lines to make them more descriptive. Some kids will be open to toying with their work after setting it aside for a day.

Others might need a little push to revise. For them, you can make specific rules. Let's think of a few possibilities.
  • No word may be repeated.
  • The acrostic must include at least one strong verb, adjective, and adverb.
  • Include alliteration in one line.
A related idea:
Make an acrostic poem for something else you are studying. It could be a time period (Revolutionary War), a person (George Washington), a place (Pennsylvania), anything really.
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose is the perfect book to teach point of view, but this time let's use it to encourage students to write in four modes: persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive.

Here are some assignments, which may be paragraph length or longer, that students can complete:

1. Read Hey, Little Ant.

Camp on the last page, where the narrator asks the reader whether the kid should step on the ant. Write a persuasive piece, giving your opinion of what the kid should do. Of course, it is important to include convincing (or funny) reasons and/or examples to back up your opinion.

3. Study the picture of the ant on the last page. Describe the ant as he awaits his fate. Use lots of details which include the senses
(sight, sound, smell, taste, touch).

4. Write an expository piece. Explain the situation between the boy and the ant OR explain the procedure for killing an ant OR explain the ant's get-away plan.

5. Write a narrative piece. Tell the story of the kid and the ant OR tell the story of a time you encountered an insect.  What did you do?  (It's okay to embellish it to make it more interesting!)

Those are my ideas. If you think of ones that suit you better,
use them instead!

Send me students' finished pieces to inspire other young writers. It would make my day!