Songs in the Key of ABC: An Elementary Refresher Course Summary

by Paula Gibson-Smith

Alphabet can be used as an organizational structure for generating words and ideas.

Believe that I am a writer and that my children are writers.

Chain of Knowledge is a paper chain with an insight written on each piece of paper and linked together. Cat Math is a picture code where cat faces represent numbers that are then used in operations.

Different forms of writing include: descriptive, narrative (story), informative (reports), persuasive/argument. Help children develop proficiency in all of them.

Elise exudes energy, enlightenment, enthusiasm, empathy, exploration, expansiveness.

Flexibility is developed in the mind when we use familiar materials in fresh, new ways.

Grammar work can be creative. Make a list of adjectives and then write three nouns for each. You now have phrases for a poem.

Gel pens entice students to happily correct their writing.

History Question Charts and the Fundamental Needs of Humans chart can be used as writing prompts for developing stories, as well as for research.

Internet is the source for information from this workshop.

Journals are a piece of material to be treated as carefully as we would the binomial cube.

Kindness is an aspect of our better natures that can be written as an Angel Card.

Letters afford a real purpose for writing and encourage an awareness of audience and the need for legible handwriting, correct spelling and conventions. Keep a binder with a copy of the letter and the response received.

Math word problems can be generated from real life classroom events and written by the children.

Nouns-concrete, or abstract, or proper-are written on slips of paper and put in a basket. Someone draws a slip and has 1 minute to get the others to guess the word without saying what the word is. If the word is guessed in under 1 minute then another slip is drawn and the game continues until time runs out.

Oracle offers a lot of fun as you write a question on one side of a file card, trade with someone else, and then, without reading the question, write an answer. Read the sometimes silly, sometimes profound combinations.

Post cards can be used for correspondence. You can also juxtapose them and write descriptions and transitions. Paint chips from the hardware store are free (don’t go back to the same store too often!) and can be used in the same way.

Question and Answer is another organizing form that can be used across subject areas. For instance, you can use the questions from the Animal Question Game, modify them slightly, and use them to describe something else, such as a person.

Record observations in a garden journal, a classroom activities journal, a math journal, a going out journal, a personal journal.

Songs provide a tune for which you write your own lyrics.

Text Merge demonstrates freedom within limits as you select words from a printed text to tell your story, like a Valentine poem for my husband on his February 14 birthday from three flyers in my folder.

Unpack the parts of speech by generating a list of adverbs or adjectives and then describe a word from the list without using the word and see if your work partners can guess the word.

Variety is the key to repetition for the elementary age child.

Writing Process: Plan, Draft, Revise, Edit, Publish.

Xenophilia, meaning love of an unknown person or place, was offered during group sharing at the end of the session.

Yes! I can do this in my own classroom and write with my children.

Zing went the strings of my heart as Elise received a resounding standing ovation!


Paula Gibson-Smith began teaching in a Montessori elementary classroom in 1986. Her passion is to bring Montessori education to more children and families through attracting more teachers. Paula is also the course assistant for the MWN Elementary Teacher Training Course in Spokane, WA