As developing writers, second graders are immersed in writing tasks. They are now able to write beyond the basic sentence, and in many different forms: stories, poems, friendly letters, how-to pieces, lists, and even recipes. As they gain more experience with these varying forms of writing, they become more effective at using good writing conventions. Students' spelling and use of punctuation marks becomes more polished in second grade, as does their understanding that writing has real-life purposes.
Here's an authentic writing task that is perfect for Earth Day, or any day! In this activity, your child's pen becomes an instrument of planetary importance. It's time to go green!
What You Need:
- Recycled copy paper
- Front and back panels of a cereal box
- Pen or pencil
What You Do:
- Discuss ways that your family can “go green” with your child. How can your household be friendly to the earth? Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
- Save return envelopes from junk mail. Use these to hold important items to school, such as lunch money, notes for the teacher, etc.
- Start a compost pail or a compost pile for kitchen scraps. Don't forget to add eggshells, coffee grinds, and fruit and veggie scraps.
- Recycle newspapers, if you don't already. You can also shred these up and add them to your compost pile.
- Use both sides of paper for coloring pictures.
- Swap magazines with neighbors, rather than subscribing to multiple magazines.
- Plant trees in your yard and neighborhood.
- Go on a monthly or weekly litter walk. Bring a garbage bag with you to clean up the street.
- Don't let the water run while you're brushing your teeth.
- Keep a bucket handy in the bathroom. When you are running shower or bath water and waiting for it to get hot, put the bucket under the tap. Use this to water plants or fill pet water dishes.
- Grow a vegetable garden. Use natural pest controls, such as companion planting.
- Choose one night a week to turn off all the lights in the house (and the TV, too!) and have a “lights out!” hour. During this hour, plan fun activities to do as a family, such as telling stories or sharing popcorn.
- Have him make a list of these ideas on the recycled copy paper. Keep the list realistic and doable for your family. Encourage him to record details for each item in the plan. If you're collecting junk mail envelopes, for example, where will they be kept? When and where will trees be planted? How will each family member contribute to the plan?
- Now help him create a book for the Going Green plan. Use the cereal box panels to create the cover and the copy paper to make the pages of the book. Staple everything together.
- Make the final page of the Going Green plan a contract for family members to sign. Have him write a sentence at the top of the page that states that all family members agree to the plan. Then have each person sign his or her name at the bottom of the page.
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.