As I shared in my last post, I begin each week by watching a new Character Tree episode with my class. If it is the first time watching an episode on a trait then we talk a little about it and what my kids think it means to exemplify that trait before beginning the episode. I also take the opportunity to incorporate some interactive writing into our discussion. In our classroom we have our own character tree and as the year progresses, we add the traits we’ve learned to our tree. So, I have my kids help me with that!
I begin the process of interactive writing by having my kids repeat the trait out loud, for example they’d repeat “kindness”. Then, we count the syllables of the word by clapping as we say each part aloud. I also have them say just the initial sound of the word and ask them to find the letter that makes that sound on our class alphabet chart and point to it (click here for more information on the alphabet charts I use with my class).I then invite a student to come up and write the first letter on our blank character trait card, while the rest of the class writes the letter in the air with their finger. Since I am teaching kindergarten this year, I write the rest of the word since my focus for most of my interactive writing lessons are on initial sounds. If you teach first grade or if it is later in the year in kindergarten, you could have your students help with writing up the medial and final sounds too. Or, if the character trait is a word with a digraph or blend that could be another focus you have your students help you with writing.
After the new character trait is written I stick up the card onto our character tree. This allows me and my students the opportunity to continue to refer to the traits we’ve learned about. Being able to refer back to the traits has helped my students incorporate character trait vocabulary into their daily conversations. I have also started to see a few of my students refer to our character tree during writing workshop time, they are beginning to use our tree like a word wall and some are using the character trait words in their writing!
If you are interested in trying this with your class, then click here to download the blank character trait cards that I use.