Getting Rid of the Grocery List Writing

Grocery list writing.  You know-I went home.  I ate a snack.  I watched T.V.  I played outside.  It's hard for kids stuck in this type of writing to break out.  Buy hey-these kids are going to grow up and be our engineers, scientists, and accountants, so give them some writing love.
Got grocery list writers? (You know-the students who just seem to list each event that happened.)  Here's how to help those writers move beyond just a list.

I got to work in a second grade classroom recently with some sweet second grade kiddos.  They were writing a personal narrative about a time they lost something.  I wrote a grocery list story on the board (in black).  We then talked about how to add to these sentences to improve them.  We also discussed how to create a picture in your readers mind by add sentences with no action-just thoughts or feelings.

I think there are some kids in your room who are never going to come to you and say, "That Patricia Polacco book moved me deeply.  The next time I write a personal narrative, I am going to use figurative language as beautifully as she did."

And you know what?  That's perfectly fine.  This is a great way to help kids work within the thinking framework they are comfortable with.  If you've got grocery store list writers, how do you help them stretch?


  1. I'm so glad you're subbing, and worked in a second grade class to be able to share this! This would have been an amazing piece of writing for my little ones to have done (your draft), but I think with your help, we can revise the revisions to get even closer!

  2. I am not even sure I would say that :)
    Thanks for the practical writing tips - great way to move writing along!
    Have a great weekend.

  3. This is a great writing lesson. I know several of my young people who would definitely benefit from revising like this. Thanks for sharing!
    On the Trail of Learning

  4. I love how easy this is... I WILL be using this with many of my EL (and other students) ASAP! Thanks so much for sharing this!
    Tales of a Teacher

  5. Love the term "grocery store list" writing. I have never called it that, but it is so accurate! I do several things to try to get my 4th graders to show variety. One trick that works well is having students circle all helping verbs and eliminate half of them. It reduces passive voice without having to go through a big explanation, which 4th graders won't get. It makes them choose more vivid verbs. Glad to have another strategy. Caitlin (TheRoomMom)

  6. Love how simple this is! I have a lot of "grocery list" writers! Thanks for the tips!!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  7. This is a fabulous post, and I love your site. I found you as a fellow student on TBTS. I am your newest follower, and I look forward to seeing more things from you in the future. Happy teaching! I'm a new blogger, and you can visit me at

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  9. Your picture is such a good example to take those types of writers one or two steps further!
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