Garrett is ten years old and we just finished reading The Mermaid from Anderson’s Fairy Tales.
When we finish a book together (or when any of the children finish a book on their own) I have them write a short paper on it. The kind of paper varies. Generally they choose how they want to write it. For example sometimes it is a summary, other times it is an opinion paper or a combination of the two.
My eight year-old daughter is actually really good and finishes these papers on her own. My son on the other hand doesn’t think he knows what to say so he needs more help from me. And that’s okay. That’s what I am here to do—teach my kids!
Venn Diagrams for a Brainstorming Activity
This time, I suggested that Garrett do a compare and contrast paper. He knew that the story was a lot like the movie The Little Mermaid and he could recognize the similarities and the differences.
I suggested that he begin by making a list of things that were similar and things that were different. He decided that he would draw two overlapping circles and write “same” in the middle where they overlap, “The Mermaid” in the left circle and “The Little Mermaid” in the right circle. We brainstormed together what the similarities and differences were and he wrote them on the side they applied.
Benefits of Brainstorming
The brainstorming made the writing process a lot easier for Garrett. Creating the list first gave him ideas for sentences instead of just trying to start writing from blank ideas on the spot. Having the ideas in front of him helped him write a more detailed paper than he has been writing, and it didn’t require extra imagination which relieved him.