A graphic organizer allows students to map out ideas in a visual way. With a graphic organizer, the child can connect information, thoughts, or parts of a story, to see how they relate to one another. Once they can see the connections, they are better able to construct a logical piece of written text.
Below I will provide a picture of a graphic organizer called a story mountain, and illustrate how to use it to write about the main character of a story.
Have the child fill in the clouds with the answers to the questions. Give them a duplicate of the sheet above, but leave the clouds blank. Let’s take the example of the story Little Red Riding Hood and pretend your child is asked to write about the main character. Encourage your child to verbalize the information they want to put in each cloud, before writing it down. This is an example of what each cloud should look like.
1)Where is your character and what are they doing?
On a path in the woods
Bringing a basket of food to her sick grandmother
2)What does the character want?
To bring food to her sick grandmother
3) What are the struggles/roadblocks?
Little Red Riding Hood meets the wolf.
The wolf tricks her into telling him where she was going.
He convinced her to take a different path.
4) What happens to make things worse?
Little Red Riding hood gets off the path to her grandmother’s house.
The wolf gets to grandmother’s house and eats the grandmother.
5)What choices does the character make?
Little red riding hood continues to her grandmother’s house.
She goes inside to see her grandmother.
Grandmother seemed different, but Little Red Riding hood got in bed with her any way.
6) How does the story end?
The wolf eats little Red Riding Hood.
After you have these facts in place, have your child use the new notes he created to put all the ideas together to form a written piece of work. If your child is having difficulty constructing the sentences or flowing logically on his own, use the strategies in my article ‘”Guided Writing” to help you guide your child through the written work. The end result should look something like this.
Little Red Riding Hood was walking on a path in the woods, bringing a basket of food to her sick grandmother. Along the way she met a wolf. The wolf was charming and convinced Little Red Riding Hood to tell him where she was going,. He tricked her by convincing her to get off her path. While Little Red was off the path, the wolf went to her grandmother’s house and ate her. Finally, Little Red Riding Hood arrived at her grandmother’s house. When she got inside, her grandmother asked her to come into bed with her. Although, her grandmother seemed different, Little Red Riding Hood was trusting and climbed into bed. The wolf was the one in grandma’s bed and ate Little Red Riding Hood.
This is just one example of using a graphic organizer. There are a variety of ways to use graphic organizers to connect pieces of information. Click here for different types of graphic organizers that you can print out for free from your computer. You can also draw you own graphic organizers.
For additional writing support for a child, try Fun Spelling Practice and Word Play Puzzlers, with a creative writing component, for grades 1 through 6.
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