What's a Zipper? A Writing Game

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Updated on Oct 4, 2012

What does it take to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It may seem like the simplest of tasks, but how easy would it be to explain the process to someone who had never had a sandwich before? Explaining an everyday activity in detail helps develop skills vital to good rhetorical writing: clarity, timing, detailed explanation, and organization. This is a great activity for third graders, whose writing style is just beginning to bloom and who are starting to write more and more detailed stories and sentences in school.

What You Need:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Sheet of paper

What You Do:

  1. To help your child understand the activity, frame it in the context of a story about aliens who have landed in your hometown. Here's an example of what you might say:
Friendly, harmless, extremely curious aliens have landed in your hometown. You have been charged with the task of writing a manual explaining simple, every day tasks to them so they'll know how to live, eat, sleep, and play on Earth.
  1. Help your child choose an activity to describe. Getting ready for bed, how to make a sandwich, how to use a zipper, and how to ride a bicycle are all good tasks to use for this project. Depending on how receptive your child is to writing, you can do one of these activities at a time or a whole series of them at once.
  2. If your child needs help getting started, have him read the example explaining how to make a PB & J sandwich below. If you were from another planet and used those directions, would your sandwich turn out right, or would you end up with a handful of peanut butter? Remember, the trick is to explain each task in as much detail as possible!
You take everything out of the refrigerator and spread the peanut butter and jelly on the bread. Next, you put the sandwich on the plate, and you're done.

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