Writing from Ice Cream

In our Mentor Texts books on writing with children’s literature, Rose Cappelli and I have five Your Turn lessons at the end of each chapter. These lessons are different from the five-minute mini-lesson that we often do.  Sometimes, the Your Turn lesson spans two days and often introduces an important strategy to our student writers. It is called Your Turn because we hope both teachers and their students will try it out. Teachers of writers are teachers who write!

This lesson does not appear in our books.  I have adapted it different ways to get students to write enthusiastically in their writer’s notebook in early September or in June when students are beginning to think about summer vacation! See the list about ice cream books at the end of this lesson.

Although Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s book is not about ice cream, I have included it here on this list. I was a big fan and am currently reading her  Textbook  published by Dutton (2016). She will always remain a mentor, not only for the books she gave us, but for the way she lived her life.

Your Turn: Creating an Ice Cream Memory to Use Your Senses

Hook:  Read a book about ice cream such as Ice Cream: The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons. How many of you like ice-cream, sherbet, or frozen yogurt?  Turn and talk with your partner about your favorite flavors. Let’s share with the whole group (Teacher records some on the board).

Brainstorm: (Planning) Make your own list in your writer’s notebook.  Students share in small group before you distribute your list. Take your favorite flavor and create a word storm in your notebook (feelings, senses, thoughts, opinions, associations). You may use it later to write another notebook entry. Turn and talk with a partner.

Purpose: Today we are going to use ice-cream flavors to help us recall a vivid memory for our writer’s notebook.  The entry will be short, maybe four to eight sentences.  You will probably use many writing strategies quite naturally such as appeal to the senses, color words, strong verbs, and vivid adjectives.

Model:   Teacher writes ice-cream memory on the board in front of the students, thinking aloud and sharing his/her writing process.

As it rolls down Durham Street, the light, tinkling music from the Good Humor truck pulls the children from their houses like a powerful magnet.  Slap-slaps of screen doors are followed by the jingling of coins stuffed deep into shorts and jeans pockets as we dash for the street. Each child has a favorite.  Mine is the rocket with its creamy vanilla ice-cream swirled with chocolate.  I like to push up the ice-cream slowly so I can enjoy the cool taste on a hot August day for a long time.  My younger sister Sandy, with huge baby blues and ringlets of gold that jiggle as she jumps up and down in front of the truck window, always asks for an orange creamsicle.  She is slow to lick the melting sides. The drops spatter the sidewalk with sticky sweetness – a prize for the ants!

Guided Writing: Turn and talk about the memory.  What did you like about it?  Open your notebook and try to write an ice-cream memory. It may be helpful to have students brainstorm settings and write one sentence about each before deciding on the entry.  For example:

 Boardwalk – I sat on the hard, wooden bench and watched the waves rolling in and out, licking my creamy vanilla cone in rhythm with the waves.

The teacher walks around the room and peek at what you are doing (Roving conferences with clipboard).  After some time, have students share in small groups and in whole groups.  Copy some of their sentences on chart paper to include as “expert” samples.

Independent Practice:  Now try to write a notebook entry about a real ice-cream memory.  Think a moment, do a web or list to get started, refer to your word storm, settings, or just start writing. Remember, you are not writing an entire story!  Here is my example (Share on overhead or distribute your thoughts on a handout).  Give students time to write and share (even if only with a partner).

Reflection: Let’s look at my paragraph.  What writing strategies did I use?  (alliteration, appeal to the senses, character description, strong verbs, simile, proper nouns, short and long sentences)

Reflect on the strategies you seem to use naturally and automatically as a writer.  What are your “fingerprints”?

Write and Reflect Again:  If you would revise this entry, what is one thing you would absolutely do?  Try it out.  Perhaps rewrite your entry as a poem in any format.  Compare entries.  Which do you like better?  Why?

Projection (Optional): Create a goal for yourself that will help your reader to visualize your words.

  • Try to appeal to a sense you don’t usually use – like smell, taste, or touch.
  • Look at your adjectives. Are they vivid and exact?
  • Do you use color?
  • Examine past portfolio entries to see how you have used the senses to create description. Choose a piece for possible revision(s).
  • Find examples in your reading where authors appeal to the senses and copy them into your notebooks. What strategy has an author used that you could try on for size?

Books About Ice Cream

Gibbons, Gail. 2008. Ice Cream: The Full Scoop. Holiday House.
Gutman, Dan. 2004.  Babe Ruth and the Ice Cream Mess. Simon Spotlight.
Henkes, Kevin. 2003. Wemberly’s Ice-Cream Star. Greenwillow Books.
Ingalls, Ann. 2013. Ice Cream Soup. Penguin Young Readers.
Krouse Rosenthal, Amy. 2013. I Scream Ice Cream! Chronicle Books. ***
Metzger, Steve. 2011.The Ice Cream King. Tiger Tales.
Rey, H.A. 2011. Curious George and the Ice Cream Surprise. HMH Books for Young Readers.
Sellers, Heather. 2004. Spike and Cubby’s Ice Cream Island Adventure. Henry Holt & Co.
Sis, Peter. 2015. Ice Cream Summer. Scholastic Press.
Taus-Bolstad, Stacy. 2012. From Milk to Ice Cream. Lerner Classroom.
Willem, Mo. 2011. Should I Share My Ice Cream? Disney Hyperion.

 ***A book of word play, but I had to include it!


I am participating in #SOL17. Thanks to the twowritingteachers blog team for creating a wonderful writing community!

18 thoughts on “Writing from Ice Cream

  1. I used a lot of these scaffolds last year during slice challenge and Poetry Friday — I tend not to push myself with trying new crafts or structures. Writing is more like therapy for me – it just flows out of me and I need to try more exercised to stretch myself. I am collecting all these ideas and hope to give some a go. Teachers will love this!! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I write poems, it’s like that. Therapy – relaxing and soothing – pouring words onto the page like sweet April rain. Other times, I really have to work at it. This ice cream Your Turn helps students because they can turn to their senses and bathe their writing in a concrete experience, usually pleasant – but some emotuion will bubble to the surface. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s