We've been back to school for about 3 weeks now and it has been very busy! Today I taught one of my favorite lessons to my new class: How is a Paragraph Like a Sandwich? I love this lesson for several reasons:
1. It totally engages the students! My students were right with me the entire time.
2. It is an anchor lesson that I come back to time after time throughout the year.
3. So many writing skills are introduced in this one lesson.
4. At the end of it, I get a great sandwich which I eat for lunch!
I started out with a bag full of sandwich ingredients and random items from my pantry. Well, they might seem random, but I actually picked each item on purpose.
- Choose items you would actually put on a sandwich. I brought ham, turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard.
- Choose some items you would eat on a sandwich, but are unexpected (with a little "spice"), such as pepperoncini, jalapeños, or spicy mustard.
- Bring items that you wouldn't eat on a sandwich, but would make a great "paragraph" of a different topic. I brought pasta, pasta sauce, and parmesan cheese.
- Bring items that are exciting, that students would love, but have nothing to do with a sandwich. I brought a kook-aid packet, popcorn, cat foot, and a TWINKIE!
I started off by having my ingredients in a mysterious bag on a desk placed right in the middle of the carpet. Students were intrigued right off the bat because it was unusual to have a desk there and they had no idea what was in the bag.
I had prepared my anchor chart with the question "How is a paragraph like a sandwich?" and a lightly penciled in drawing of a sandwich which I would draw in at the end of the lesson.
As I gathered my students to the carpet, I shared with them the topic of the lesson and had them pair-share what they thought a sandwich and a paragraph have in common.
After letting them share I told them that this morning I went around my kitchen gathering "ideas" for a great sandwich and this is what I came up with... Then I dramatically pulled my items one by one out of the bag, making a big deal out of all my GREAT IDEAS! Students think it is hilarious that I have popcorn, cat food, and a Twinkie! When I got all of my ideas out on the desk I ask students what the first thing I need for a sandwich is. BREAD of course!
Starting with the bread, I ask students to share what ideas/ingredients should come next in my sandwich paragraph. After the basics: bread, mayo, and meat, I put on the top piece of bread and ask students if I have a sandwich.
Yes, but do I have a GREAT SANDWICH???! CAN WE MAKE IT EVEN BETTER!!? CAN WE SPICE IT UP!!!? YES!! YES, WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!
As we add more details to our sandwich paragraph, students often disagree with the order and I adjust or "reorganize" my sandwich as new items are added. This models for students that details don't always fit where placed and it is okay to move things around.
Unfailingly, a brave student will suggest the Jello or the Twinkie. I always say that that is a GREAT idea!!!!... but does it fit in this paragraph? When a student suggests the pasta sauce, I let them know that the pasta sauce is a great detail, but wouldn't that idea fit better in a paragraph about spaghetti?
One of the things I really try to model for students is that they need to make their writing interesting. They need to SPICE IT UP!!! We spice up our sandwich with peppers, but how do we spice up our writing? With surprising facts, interesting word choices, and unusual details that still fit the topic.
When we have used up all of the ingredients to make our AWESOME sandwich, I always take a huge bit and go on and on about how WONDERFUL and TASTY this paragraph is!! The kids love it!
When the students have settled down a bit, we take a look at our anchor chart. I ask students to remind me what was on the sandwich and I draw the ingredients in. I then label the parts (topic sentence, conclusion sentence, and details) with some help from the class. I still need to go in and add some of the connections students made to my anchor chart, but this is what it looks like at this point.
I then randomly choose students to tell me what they learned from the lesson about how a paragraph is like a sandwich. I got some great answers this year.
"Not all ideas fit in the paragraph. You can have great ideas, but they don't make sense in the paragraph."
"Sometimes you have to move around ideas to make the paragraph better."
"You want to use interesting ingredients to add spice to your paragraph."
"The topic sentence and the conclusion sentence are similar but a little different."
All in all, I think the students really learned a lot from this lessons and I'll be able to draw on it for months to come. I've posted the anchor chart on the wall for reference for the students and had a great sandwich for lunch. I call that a success!
Do you have a great idea for a fun and engaging writing lesson? I would love to hear about them. Share them in the comments section below!
Thanks for visiting!