Aug 4, 2013

Building Ideas from "Nothing" :) Creative Writing Mentor Text

Happy Sunday Friends!  Today I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties to share a mentor text with you.  As many of you might know, I focus a great deal of 6+1 Traits of Writing in my classroom.  It allows me to share a common language with my students that makes conferring and mini-lessons flow more smoothly for us.

I like to introduce each trait with a picture book.  For the traits of IDEAS, I like to use Nothing Good Ever Happens on 90th Street.

I am fortunate that our school has purchased Trait Crates from Scholastic.  These crates are packed full of wonderful picture books and ideas to teach each trait.  This particular book is included in the crate and, although this particular lesson is not included, there are several wonderful ideas packed right in.  
pic from Scholastic

As the story goes, Eva is sitting on her front stoop.  She has a writing assignment to complete and she can't think of anything interesting that happens in her little world.  With the help of some neighbors, she realizes that things might be a bit more interesting that she originally thought.

My take on the story is to focus on the fact that Eva wasn't looking closely enough to observe all the details that are around her each day.  I use this focus and build a lesson that models and teaches students to dig deeply and creatively into their topics to find ideas for their writing.  The details are there, we just have to open our minds and notice them!

After a read aloud and a mini-lesson on digging and creating details, we take a tour of our school.  We observe the day to day activities through our newly trained critical eyes.  :)  We look for the details that we've been missing, and make notes to prepare for a creative writing assignment.

Here's our Assignment Card.  Feel free to download if you are interested.  It is in ppt form and you may make adjustments to fit your needs.  :)
I hope this is a lesson and read aloud that you can use.  It is appropriate for any grade level, although adjustments to the lesson may be needed in order to meet the needs of varied age groups and writing abilities.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your Sunday.  Make sure to click over and see the fabulous mentor texts that are being linked up at Collaboration Cuties today!

Follow on Bloglovin 


  1. I bought myself a trait crate a couple years ago when I moved to 5th grade. I really liked the books that came with it, I just wish it was bigger to hold more books for each trait!

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason
    Follow my blog with Bloglovin

  2. I'm gonna have to go and check out the Trait Crate! Thanks for sharing this, and the great writing lesson :) It was so nice to meet you this weekend...I'm looking forward to next year!!!

  3. Brandee--this is one of my favorite mentor texts of all time. I happened to live on 89th St. when I first started teaching, and my school was in the vicinity. The kids felt like it had been written just for them :)

  4. Those Trait Crates have excellent books in them! I have the Grade 3 and Grade 4 ones. Have a great Sunday!
    Grade 4 Buzz

  5. I have this book! Yay!! We don't focus on the traits, but that crate looks mighty interesting... :O)

    I love the detail you put in your post! I'm going to have to try this!
    Collaboration Cuties

  6. I love using this book with my kiddos. What a fun writing lesson. Thanks for sharing about the Trait Crate. I'm going to have to check it out.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  7. What a great book for students that have a hard time getting started writing or the students that declares they have nothing to write about!
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun

  8. What a great way to teach students that story seeds are all around them- they just need to look more closely!
    Great book suggestion!
    Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

  9. What a great book for fighting the "I don't have anything to write about" blues! This book is going on my amazon wish list pronto!

    -Amanda @
    Teacher at the Wheel

  10. A new product to check out! I've never heard of the trait crate! I'm so excited I have this book! Yay! I like to use it at the beginning of the year since they "never" have anything to write about! Thanks for sharing your lesson idea!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  11. I love that book as well! It's such a great book that celebrates ordinary moments! I also like to read Ralph Fletcher's Marshfield Dreams to the kids when we talk about ideas. You do not need to read the entire book because it's written in short vignettes but he has such a "kid soul" that my students LOVED THE BOOK and were begging me to read more. Plus, he has pictures and I got to gush about meeting him!

    I'm going to check out that Trait Crate. Our sixth grade really hits the 6+1 traits... we don't really "go over" them in fifth grade but we essentially teach them in our workshop without labeling them.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    I always love your ideas,
    My Shoe String Life
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

  12. I love that one too. I use it each year. I will have to incorporate you ideas in ideas :-)

    Thanks for sharing and it was wonderful meeting you in person this weekend.

    room 4 imagination

  13. I love this book, but don't own it. Clearly, it's going in my amazon cart! :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow me on Facebook!

  14. I love the way you use this book and how you take a school tour. I love taking school tours and I can't wait to get the students to try looking at things in a new way or for things they have missed. I also like how you have the peer editing/feedback in their too!

  15. Just checking in on you...Haven't heard from you in a week which isn't like you. Busy time of year, I know, but just thought I'd check in & make sure all is good! :)

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  16. Just getting back to reading my favorite blogs after two weeks of prep and having our first full week of school. So glad I stopped over today! We would love for you to stop over to our blog on Tuesdays to participate in our brand--new linky--Traits Tuesday! You can check out the details in our most recent post. You always have such wonderfully thoughtful and useful posts...

    All the best--
    Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers

  17. I love that book, and I really love that writing prompt! Thank you for sharing!


Please leave a comment and let me know you stopped by. :)

Copyright © Creating Lifelong Learners | Blog Template by Lilipop Designs