In conjunction with the Daily Five and my Writer’s Workshop, I created a toolbox of “idea tools”. My students have time to write every day. Sometimes it is a little challenging to come up with something to write about. That’s where the Idea Tools come in.
My students are welcome to use any of these tools to aide in their writing. There are guidelines for each, and they were introduced and added to the toolbox one at a time.
The container is simply a shower caddy I picked up at WalMart. (I used it for all of my overhead supplies for a few years-- but when we got document cameras, it was time to repurpose it.)
Stencils are a great tool. These are some from Dollar Tree. They choose ONE picture, trace it, write about it, color it, and then finish the illustration. Stencils are great because it is easy to have variety, they are inexpensive, and don’t take up a lot of space.
These are similar to the stencils. They are wooden cutouts that you can find at any craft store. I have mine sorted into groups (dinosaurs, transportation, jungle animals, etc.) They trace them write, color, and add to the picture. These are awesome because they are easy for small hands to trace, inexpensive, and extremely durable.
One last kind of stencil- these are paper stencils.
I also have a random collection of stickers that I put in. They take ONE sticker, put it on their paper, and write a story about it. Then they finish the illustration. Sticker stories are one of my most-favorite activities for my students. Their creativity astounds me every year! Anytime I get free stickers (in the mail, from magazine offers, etc.) I throw them in. (Another great time to get stickers is after holiday clearance.)
Another thing I put in is self-inking stamps. They change based off the holiday. (What first grader doesn't want to write about Halloween or Valentines Day?)
I found some awesome picture/word banks online. I printed, laminated, and put them out. (I change them randomly.)
My students have journals that they write about their lives, activities, etc. Their journals change- in the Fall, they have one line to write on. In the Winter, they are half a page of lines, half a page for a picture, and in the Spring they are half a page for picture, and then one and half pages for writing.
They also have a notebook (my class last year named it their “Thought Spot”- because it was their place for writing their thoughts). If they have a minute during the day, they pull it out and write. It was unbelievable to me last year how much my students would write- and LOVED to write because they had it as a constant choice.