Wednesday, October 20, 2010


For a sweet change of pace, how about using Skittles to help your students brainstorm writing ideas?  This is the perfect time of year, since individual sized packages of the rainbow-colored candy fill the shelves in the Halloween aisle at most grocery stores.  This lesson is called "Sweet Ideas" and it will be found on the writing calendars under October.  The inspiration came from an idea found in the online preview of Day by Day by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz.

If an idea comes from an emotional experience in a student’s life, it is often easier to write about it with voice and vivid word choice. To encourage students to explore ideas connected with emotion, try this sweet lesson idea on for size!

Prior to the lesson, purchase a bag of Skittles and check out the colors. Decide which colors could stand for which emotions. (For example, red could stand for anger, orange for being hurt or sad, green for jealous, purple for embarrassed, and yellow for happy.) Go ahead and brainstorm your own list of story ideas associated with each color/emotion. Be prepared to share with your class.

At the beginning of the lesson, talk about how writers get their ideas from life experiences. Some of these experiences may be happy, while others may be sad, embarrassing, frustrating, or anger-inducing. Other experiences have left us feeling jealous. Share your list of story ideas associated with each emotion. Give each student their Skittles, and discuss which colors could represent which emotions.

Work on one emotion at a time, writing for 2-3 minutes each. (Tell them they are just making a jot list.  There is no need for complete sentences.) If there is time in the workshop period, allow students to take one idea and develop a story around it. This list can later be used when the students are ready to write a new piece.

The perfect book to introduce this lesson is My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss.

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