|Great Writer's Notebooks Allow for Students' to Dedicate Pages where they Play with Language! I've always loved language games. Palindromes (see the mentor text pictured at left), pangrams, oxymorons, and onomatopoeia (which I can spell without looking up, thank you!)--just a few of my favorites. In my own writer's notebook, you'll find many pages dedicated to my favorite examples of language games.
Years back, I invented my very own language game/challenge. I called my invention "sausage sentences." They were loosely based on a geography game we used to play on car trips: the one where someone names a city or country ("Pittsburgh," for example) and the next person has to name a city or country that begins with the last letter of the previous answer ("Houston," for example, then "Nashville," then "Ecuador," then "Reno," etc.
I began attempting to compose sentences that followed the same rule: the last letter of each word had to be the first letter of the next word. This was easy to do with four- or five-word sentences; with eight- or nine-word sentences it becomes a bit more difficult. See examples:
Always savor ravioli in November!
Every yellow warbler rested during Gideon's skillfully yodeled ditty.
I named this original word game "sausage sentences" because their structure reminded me of links of interconnected sausage links--just another testament to the crazy way my brain tries to make a metaphor out of everything.
At WritingFix, I have a write-up that shares how I introduce these as a "discovery riddle" to my students. Here is a link to that riddle, which my students always appreciate as a brain-teaser, and which fires them up to start thinking about sausage sentences when they have a free moment in any of their classes. By the end of the month, I have many students who've created some interesting "sausages."
Students of mine--read this: For this April's extra credit writer's notebook challenge, I am challenging my most language-savvy students to do the following:
- Compose three eight- or nine-word (minimum requirement, not maximum) sausage sentences that actually make sense! My dear students of writing, it is somewhat easy to make a sausage sentence that doesn't truly make sense. You know it'll make sense if you a) don't have to explain its meaning to me or a classmate and b) can visualize the sentence enough to make it into a scene that you can draw.
- Neatly copy the three sausage sentences onto a page in your writer's notebooks, providing space to draw an illustration either above or below each one.
- Extra smiles and a possible "Mr. Stick of the Week" award if you include some fun Mr. Sticks in your illustrations.
Now, over the years, I have learned there are easier words to start sausage sentences with than others. I find "The" to be a very hard word to begin a sausage sentence with. Starting with "I" works, if you begin a sentence with "I insisted..." or "I ingeniously..." It is impossible to use the words "a" or "an" in a sausage sentence--Can you figure out why?
I have also learned that if your sausage sentence isn't going well, erase just a few words (not the whole thing) and try a different approach to finishing the sentence.
To help you begin an original sausage sentence or two, you might click on the button below; it provides some interesting first-word choices that I have collected over the years. If you have a different word that really worked well as your sentence's first word, send it to me at email@example.com.
Mr. Harrison's "Sausage Sentence" Starter Machine!
My Teacher Model from my own Notebook
I proudly share my writer's notebook with my students on a regular basis. They see me write in it; in addition, they ask to look through it when they are looking for a fresh idea.
For my Sausage Sentence page, I came up with three sentences I liked, and I tried to visualize what they would look like as cartoons. Here they are, and here is the thinking I did to create the Mr. Stick illustrations that accompany them.
- Perhaps Saturday you'll let them manufacture eleven nice, elegant turquoise earrings. When I think of turquoise, I remember stopping at rest stops in Colorado and Utah, and admiring the Native American jewelry they sold to tourists from their tiny stands or the beautiful rugs on which they spread out their wares. That was where I first learned what turquoise even was. In the Spring, my students read Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage (about the Lewis & Clark expedition), and so I envisioned this sausage sentence being said by a trapper/trader of that era to a Native American who was busy until Saturday. You can see my Mr. Stick comic strip for this sentence below.
- His son's silence encouraged Dwight to observe, "Everything good?" I struggled so hard to come up with a better verb than observe for this one, since I was having a hard time thinking that observe could be used as the dialogue verb when a question was being asked. I finally decided to "let it go," since I liked the image the sentence put in my mind. I pictured Dad--Dwight--peeking in on his son--Dwight, Jr.--who was lost in his own world of playing Skyrim, which is the video game my wife and I were both playing when I did this page's write-up. If I have time, I may come back to this one, having Dwight. Jr., respond with a line of dialogue that is both Skyrim-based and a sausage sentence too!
- Every yellow warbler rested during Gideon's skillfully yodeled ditty. Since this was the original sausage sentence I created when I wrote my first Sausage Story, I have to include it here. Remember, students of mine, anything you write/illustrate in your notebook is fair game to become something longer (narrative, expository, or persuasive) you can take through the process for an upcoming writer's workshop! I consider your notebook to be the place where you explore ideas through pre-writing, and an interesting sausage sentence can be turned into a Sausage Story. A Sausage Story is a narrative piece of writing that "hides" your sausage sentence within the tale so that a fellow classmate would have to locate it when they read the story; the trick of a good Sausage Story is that you write a story that leads up to or that follows the sausage sentence, and you write it in such a way that the sausage sentence doesn't stand out--it has to feel natural to the story.
Anyway, here's the completed page from my writer's notebook. You can click on it to see an even larger version that you can really zoom in on for closer inspection of details!
|Share Digital Photos of your own students' Sausage Sentence pages using this link.
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