In writing class, I always look for ways to create projects that are engaging and fun, yet still purposeful. One of my favorite projects is making ‘pigeon books’ with second graders. The book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems is a popular book among primary grades. Check it out if you haven’t already! I will also put our student made ‘pigeon books’ on display in the gym when they are complete. Look for an announcement in the emails before Winter Break.
For second graders, this is a great anchor book to teach persuasive writing. In the original book, the pigeon tries to convince the audience to let him drive the bus with a variety of silly methods and reasoning. As a project, each class gets to pick something the pigeon really wants to do. For example, this years books include: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Racecar, Eat the Cake, Drink the Coca-Cola, Use the MacBook Pro. Using the voice of the pigeon, students come up with their own reasons. The room for creativity in this project is endless! Yet with every funny reason they generate, they are reinforcing what it means to persuade. Every year, they surprise me with the topics they choose and the reasons they come up with. Providing a space for student choice is a very powerful feeling, and it further increases the students’ engagement. When this happens, students really take ownership of their work. We also get to end the project by learning how to draw the pigeon, which is a simple design with basic lines and shapes.
The other day, a student stopped me in the hall and said, “Colleen, I can’t wait to finish our pigeon book!” I could tell he was filled with excitement over his ideas. This project is filled with creativity, humor and a considerable amount of drawing, which is what makes this project so fun! I believe it will be something many of my students will remember with fondness. That is what makes learning meaningful and what makes my job so enjoyable.