One of my favorite centers is called the SQUIGGLE CENTER. Pat Pavelka presented a workshop for my school system in 2004 and introduced me to the Squiggle. Over the years, I took what Pat taught us and tweaked the center into one of my favorites. It is the perfect center to foster creativity and enhance writing skills.
Squiggle starts as an independent center the second nine weeks of kindergarten.
Beginning Week 9, the Squiggle is introduced as a whole group activity. Perfect Read Alouds for the whole group lesson are The Squiggle by Carole Lexi Schaefer and This is a Sun, a Crayola book I found in the Target Dollar Spot a few summers ago.
I have also used Not a Stick and Not a Box. Each book discusses a line, a scribble, or a “squiggle” that can be changed into something else.
Gradual Release of Responsibility – I do it.
After the story, show the students a piece of chart paper with many “plus signs.”
The reason I start with a “plus sign” is that the shape remains the same if it is turns upside down or sideways.
All the students to brainstorm many ideas they can make with a “plus sign.”
You hold the pen so the lesson can go quickly.
I have done the next step two different ways:
1. When teaching full-day kindergarten, I would send them back to their tables with a piece of paper that contained 1 big “plus sign” in the middle of the page.
2. When teaching half-day kindergarten, I would let them see the paper and tell them they would have the opportunity to make a squiggle for morning work the following day.
The students are required to label their pictures, either independently or with help. Either way, students would create an object from the “plus sign” and label it.
We do it.
The second lesson starts with a quick review of the stories and the chart paper with the “plus signs.”
I would also share a few student made squiggles.
Then I would show them the new squiggle for the day, a “V.” The chart paper shows a “v” pointing in 4 directions.
Again, the students brainstorm and you write their choices. Again, they will either get another chance to do an independent squiggle at the table immediately or for morning work the following day.
The students would also label their picture.
The third lesson starts with another review and a few students sharing their squiggle from the day before. Today’s lesson will include a chart paper with a “U” shape written facing 4 different ways and a sentence starter. We talk about what the squiggle could be as I turn the page 90 degrees at a time…it could be the bottom of a boat, the side of a face, a hill for Jack and Jill, or the side of a plate. Then, they are all given the same squiggle and asked to go illustrate and write about their picture.
You do it.
When I first started using the Squiggle Center there was a “Squiggle of the Week.”
It seemed everyone copied the person sitting closest to them and the students were not very creative.
So, we started calling it the “Secret Squiggle” and they were allowed to use a lap desk and sit anywhere in the room to complete their squiggle.
This worked for creativity, but I always hated sharing the Squiggles at the beginning of the week because then the other students would start copying what they had seen.
Finally, the same lightning bolt that helped me make a monthly listening center booklet helped me create Squiggle Books. Starting the second 9 weeks of the school year, students received their own Squiggle Book. This book included 9 Squiggles and a writing space. They are allowed to choose any Squiggle in the book, but it cannot be the same one as another person at the table. We date stamp the squiggle so that we know when they did each squiggle. For the first Squiggle Book, the students are not given any lines. They are asked to label and encouraged to write a simple sight word sentence: I see the __.
This is one of my favorite 2nd 9 weeks squiggles. This shows complete understanding.
This student used what we learned from our read aloud and transferred the knowledge to his squiggle.
Each day at the end of center time, we share our centers.
They have illustrated several different squiggles, so they don’t always remember what someone else did before.
However, if I see too many “doors” or “lightning bolts,” we outlaw that picture.
You do it…more.
The second Squiggle Book (the 3rd 9 weeks) includes lines on the paper and the students are required to write 4 sentences.
Yes, I said 4 sentences!
Years ago I developed a writing tool for helping kindergartners (or any emergent writer) write 4 sentences on a topic.
They can use this for writing. I loved the foot squiggle.
“The [fut] is yellow. The fut is big. The fut has a stengy (stinky) sel (smell). The fut is a slep (asleep).
Want proof they understand what they are learning? Here’s another great squiggle that showed this student understood where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his speech in Washington D.C.
You do it…to the max!
The last Squiggle Book of the year (4th 9 weeks), includes TWO squiggle lines on each page and lines that are closer together.
The two lines must be woven into one picture or one story.
The last 9 weeks, the students who write more than 4 sentences are allowed to go to the treasure box.
The students also know they can go to the back of the page if they run out of space.
Squiggles in the examples are 3 little circles. The student on the left made these circles into “orc lights” from Iron Man. He talked about how the orc lights make the Iron Man stay alive. He chose to go to the top of the page to continue you writing. The second example shows a bridge. The student talks about the scary bridge and the circles are holding up the bridge. In the last example, the student made three beach balls and described playing with them.
Look what I did.
Squiggle Center is perfect for showing growth over time.
At the end of each 9 weeks, the teacher has a writing sample for growth (or lack there of).
The writing samples can be used for RtI, ESTAT, or CSC.
The examples to the right are one student.
In October her wrote, “I see a snake.”
In February he wrote, “I will brush my teeth. Brush my teeth in the morning and at my bedtime.
Then in May he wrote, “I can see a tree falling down the hill. The tree is big. The tree is about to fall on me. The hill is breaking.” What a great show of progress.
I hope you like Squiggles as much as I do, but more importantly, as much as my students do.