“A New Improved Santa” by Patricia Ree Wolff
Writer’s Craft: Word Choice and Wonderful Ways With Print
6 Traits of Writing: Word Choice
Rationale: I chose this book because in life we are always scurrying to improve ourselves and outdo one another. We are always trying to keep up with the times, the Jones’, and our meet everyone’s demanding expectations. “A New Improved Santa” sends a clear message to our young readers that sometimes change is not necessary; sometimes being true to who we really are is better received. Even Santa is faced with the challenge of fitting in and keeping up with those around him; kids can relate to this! This story has a plethora of adjectives which lend themselves nicely for a lesson on word choice.
The students will:
1. Identify the text craft used in the story.
2. Reflect and write about a time they felt pressured to be someone other than who they are
3. List colorful words in their word choice writer’s notebook
Time: One 45 minute period
Grade Level: 2nd - 5th grade
Anticipatory Set: Have you ever felt pressured to be someone or something you are not? Sometimes people around us expect us to be or act a certain way. When we do not live up to their expectations they are disappointed or find someone else to be their friend. In this story, Santa has some of the same problems we do. Find out how he solves his problem and how the people closest to him react to his decisions.
Prior Knowledge: What does Santa Claus look like? Can you describe him? Can you draw him? In this story, Santa takes on a whole new look. Compare your drawings and descriptions to Santa’s look in this story.
Read as a Reader: Read the story aloud to the students.
After the story: How did your drawings and descriptions compare? Which Santa do you like better? Do you think Santa made a good decision in the end? What did you notice about Mrs. Claus and how she reacted to Santa’s changes? She was always supportive but knew he would make the best decision in the end. Do you have friends or family like that in your life? The best friends in life are those that stand by you when you make poor decisions, but love you through them. They also help lead you to make good decisions and help you fix your mistakes. Mrs. Claus was a really good friend to Santa.
Reread as a Writer: I am going to read the story again to you. This time I want you to pay attention to how the writer writes. Pay attention to the words the writer uses to describe Santa and his new look.
For Example . . .
slimmer, stronger, impressive, spiked, sprayed, younger-looking, trendsetting, multicolored, wisps, retro, grunge, stylish, fuchsia, chuckling, cyber, old-fashioned, innovative, waxed, braided, psychedelic, high-heeled, roaring, sombrero, burst, disappointed, dismayed, downright unhappy, rejected, dejected, hustled, bustled, scrambled, scurried
Writing Practice: This craft and trait is known as word choice. If the writer had not chosen such colorful, picture words to describe Santa it would not have grabbed our attention. Word choice is extremely important when describing a person, place, thing, or how something is done. We can use word choice in our writing too. Open your writer’s notebook to the section called word choice and list some of the words from the story that are good examples of effective word choice. What are some other ways of saying the same thing with other words? Add these words to your list. For example, make a list of words to use instead of the word “said.”
Assessment: The students will add words to their writer’s notebooks to be used throughout their writing in the future. Students will improve their narrative written about a time they were pressured to change by using better word choice from their list in their writer’s notebook.