The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Writing That Grew Out of Reading

on September 25, 2016

Earlier this week I wrote a response to a teacher who was concerned about the writing problems of his students, especially grammatical errors.  In my response I argued against teaching grammar and proposed using literature as the basis for student writing. However, I did not fully describe the ways in which teachers at the schools where I was principal taught writing. Today’s piece will deal with that issue more fully and give examples of writing done by primary grade students that I still have in my possession. Since my explanation and examples are limited, I suggest that those readers who want to see more look up my 2009 book, “Teaching Writing in Mixed Language Classrooms.”

P.S I wrote this piece yesterday, but did not post it because I wasn’t able to convince my computer to print poetry and songs in their proper formats.  After much effort by my son and me, we finally got the poems formatted correctly. I hope it was worth the wait.

Teachers at our schools used books, poems, songs and articles students were reading and the issues they were discussing to motivate and guide their  writing efforts. Often children were encouraged to use the structure of a piece of writing for their own content.  At the primary level they focused on easy, repetitious books, such as ” Rosie Wore her Red Dress” and “The Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad, No good Day”, and simple poems that appealed to students.  Below are several pieces written by children of ages 5-8. You won’t see many spelling or punctuation errors because teachers had children revise and correct their writing before it was published in a book for their parents.   Although I also have some excellent longer pieces of writing in my collection, I have chosen not to include them here because they would take up too much space.

Once upon a time, not my time and not your time, but once upon a time the moon was all alone in the sky. Now directly down there was a be aver village. Now that was a problem. Each night the beavers wouldn’t have enough light. Finally the genius of the beaver tribe had a council meeting. He glued a match on a board. By accident one of the beavers struck the match and a ball of fire shot up in the air. The other beavers thought it was weird, but from that day on they called it “Strange”. But they forgot how to pronounce it and started to call it “Star.” One day a new beaver said, “Look at the stars.” So nowadays we call them stars. And so it was that from that night to this night the stars have been twinkling.

A-A-Amanda, lovely Amanda
You are the only one for me
When the r-r-rainbows come down from the sky
I will be waiting at the kitchen door

I can say the ABCs
But I can’t say all the vowels
I can look at a statue
but I can’t be one
I can have a birthday every year
But I can’t have a birthday every day

“Go take a bath and wash your feet”
My mother says to me
I go take a bath and wash my feet
And call to let her see
Go take a bath and wash your feet
She says again to me
I go take a bath and wash my feet
But this is killing me!

Grant Wood’s Paintings

I felt sad and mad when my teacher told us that people did not like Grant Wood’s paintings in the beginning. When Grant Wood died, people noticed his paintings were good. I think his paintings are good, too, but I think they need more color.

Little Billy Willy
Was eating some chili
Was eating some chili quite hot
Said he, “It doesn’t matter
How much I get fatter
I’m just a little person after all.

Dear Mrs. Bohlman,
Please excuse my daughter, Julie for not handing in her homework. You see my husband is a wizard and left his lab door open by mistake. My two year old son. Jimmy, got in and took my husband’s Disappearing Potion and sprinkled it all over Julie’s homework. So now who knows where it is? Sorry.
Nancy Field

Little old fox, little old fox
Where have you been
Sorting my socks
Said the little old fox
That’s where I’ve been.

I love the sound of birds whistling
The feel of leaves
The taste of juice
The smell of bread
The sight of my mother
I love them all

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. We children have a dream,too

I have a dream that the the world would be peaceful and beautiful and there wouldn’t be wars any more

I have a dream that all people that are homeless would have a home

I have a dream that the crops will grow strong so there will be no starvation

I have a dream that all countries could be friends

I have a dream that when a child’s mother or dad dies instead of being shifted around you could pick your own new mom or dad from some people who like you

I have a dream that the U.S. would put a space station in space.

I like them
Ask me why
Because they are sweet
Because they are good to eat
Because they can be soft or crunchy
Because they are also munchy.
Because they are a wonderful treat
Because, Because, Because.
That’s why I like cookies

“The Very Busy Spider” is my favorite book. Animals ask the spider if they can play with him. But he doesn’t hear them. He’s too busy making his web.


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