Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Diary of a Pig - reading response idea

Today's Teacher Tip Tuesday idea is: The Diary of a Pig

Have you read the Diary of a _____ books by Doreen Cronin?  So much fun.

There are diaries for a worm, a fly and a spider.  Each is more awesome than the last.  T
hey are written in the form of a diary, are witty and have fun illustrations and quick one-liners.  

I love them.  Kids always love them.

One of them mentions that a worms head looks just like it's butt.  What kid isn't going to love that?

A few years back, I happened to be reading Charlotte's Web to the class as my chapter book read aloud and broke these fun titles out during our writing block as a model of organization and voice from six traits.

Ever have one of those light bulb moments?  You know, the kind where you scrap your plans and go with something way better that "just came to you?"

That's when "The Diary of a Pig" was born.  We used Cronin's books as a model/inspiration and composed our own version based on the events in Charlotte's Web.
We discussed 1st person vs 3rd person.

We talked about style.  We chatted about the important parts that would be important to include. Not only is it fun and creative, but it is a fabulous way to check a child's level of comprehension on a text.

After reading a chapter (or chapters in some cases), I asked the class to compose a diary entry.

While the book doesn't specify dates, we used context clues to form a timeline and thus "date" our entries (Wilbur being a spring pig, Fern being in school, the crickets signaling summer, etc).

They were asked to include some words that they considered to be "key vocabulary."

The cover was designed to look like Cronin's.  We observed how each of her covers had a white background and each had a pencil as part of the illustration.  They needed to do the same.

After all of the books were completed, we made them available in the class library for a bit.  They took a lot of pride in this activity.

You could easily do this with other books as well.


Sunny said...

What a cute idea! I love it. I may just have to steal it too ;)

Frau M. said...

I love that idea! My reading of Charlotte's Web took an organic turn into a study of spiders and the Anansi tales, and the Diary books would have really fit in well (mental note for next year).

Mrs Carter said...

I love this idea! I love using books like the Diary of ____ as mentor texts as it gives kids a great model to begin their own. You could modify to work with so many different great books.... Thanks for all your great ideas!!

Mr. Catania said...

We did something similar this year. We incorporated our unit in science into our language arts block by having the students create a "Diary of A..." on any animal of their choice. They checked books out of our school library which they would use to write their personalized diaries. This connected to our unit on vertebrates vs. invertebrates and types of animals in science. The students took their nonfiction books and first chose ten facts (for a ten-day diary) from the books and then used their creative juices to turn those facts into fun and interesting diary entries. The end result was outstanding and the kids seemed to really enjoy it!

Littlest Learners said...

@Sunny: Thanks. You'll have such fun with it.

@Frau M: I usually read it in the fall and we also do a nonfiction unit on spiders. It fits with Halloween since we don't really "do" Halloween.

@Mrs. Carter: You're welcome. Thank you for your kind words.

@Mr. Catania: Welcome! What a great idea to use it as a creative writing project to go with a non-fiction research study. My partner teacher does an endangered species project each spring. I'm going to suggest using your version of this. Thanks!