Good News! Now that so many Kid Writers are writing so effectively, teachers are asking us how they can help children's writing get even better.
"Word splashes" are an easy, effective way to help children improve the craft of their writing. Once children understand sound/symbol relationships and are effectively using high frequency words in their writing, it's time to move on to an emphasis on craft. Sometimes this happens at the end of kindergarten, sometimes mid-first grade. Although craft is broken down differently in different states, the basic categories are focus, content, organization and style. Word splashes address word choice, a sub-element under Style. One element of word choice is using "muscular" or "robust" verbs, rather than weak, generic verbs.
Here's how we've seen word splashes work best in classrooms. We'll use the generic verb said as an example. Note that the purpose of dialog in a piece is to reveal something about the speaker and to move the piece forward. (Regie Routman, Conversations)
The teacher refers to a picture trade book that the children already know and love and says something like, "Notice all the different words that Karen Hesse uses instead of said in her book Come On, Rain! " The class might make a list of these alternatives, adding to the list as they discover additional alternatives to the word said in other books. The teacher then prints out the word splash for said on the computer, displays them on a board - and here's the most effective part - If a child uses on of the alternative for said, he/she writes his/her name on a post-it note and sticks it right up on the word splash! Kids will do anything for a post-it note! We suggest printing out the "plain" word on white paper and the "splashed" words on a bright color.
At the end of writing workshop time, the teacher asks who "wrote like Karen Hesse today - using a different word for said?" The budding authors then read the alternative word they used. Post-it notes stay up for a long time. You can just imagine how this interactive display fosters more effective writing! Please contact us with additional words to add to our splashes - it will be more effective if we all dive in together!
Want to dive right in? Here are links to printable word splashes: