Fishing for Ideas ~ Writing Topic Cards and Tools for Your Sea of Writers

We're diving into writing and swimming through stories beautifully these days...As long as we're given a topic and told what to write...
Teacher Sigh...
But, a lot of our first graders still have trouble coming up with writing ideas on their own. Let's face it...A lot of people, no matter the grade have trouble with this! 
We say write, and they hear 
"Stare blankly into space and master that deer in headlights look...Hold it...Goooood..." ;) 
So, we came up with a master plan and they dove right in!

The general idea is quite simple really...But, something about the plastic fish bowl (found at the local pet store, but you can use any container) and the whole fishing theme that we carry from brainstorming to final draft gets them hook, line and sinker. 
True Story...
The other day, we had a parent volunteer running Fishing for Ideas as one of our Workshop jobs and at the end of her time she asked, "How do you get them to cheer over writing?" 
We just smiled shyly...But, we knew the answer.
 We made container bling and used Mod Podge to attach it to the front of this clear plastic fishbowl we found at the local pet store. 
We created 120 (60 color and 60 black and white for our ink conscious friends) writing topic cards. We print and laminate and throw them in the bowl!
We use this activity with our whole class or in small groups...
We know what you're thinking...
What happens when the kid picks a topic they have no clue about...What happens when they show me the blank stare into space, I've mastered the deer caught in headlights and they hold it look?
This has happened. 
We get it, and we've got a solution...
We always have them pick 2, keep 1. Rarely are there 2 topics they cannot think of something to write about. So pick the one they like best or feel like writing about and put the other card back for next time. 
We created 10 journal covers total for this unit ~ My Journal covers along with alternate versions with Fishing for Ideas as a title. But, these are our actual class journals that we use all year, so we just have them use them when they're fishing for ideas too. The number boxes can be used if you assign numbers to your students in class, or we use them to keep track of which journal it is from the school year. It's a teacher mom thing...It helps keep them organized when they go into the to be filed pile school keepsake boxes at home, and speaking from experience us moms need that. So, we have them number, #1, #2, etc...
We have 2 brainstorming and writing templates with both primary and ruled lines to choose from. Sometimes, we like them to write their Fishing for Ideas stories for up on the walls. So we have a wall writing template that's a little snazzier than the journal filler papers. Take your pick!
Our kids love Fishing for Ideas. It gives them a sense of control over their writing and instills choice and responsibility in our classroom. With 60 topic cards to choose from, plus blank ones to make your own,  this is a work smarter, not harder center because it can last pretty much all year. 

Fluttering Through First Grade


  1. It looks wonderful! I have my first grade friends write topics in their journals, but this is great! I could give up the topics in their journals or the fishnet could come out second semester as they begin to run out of ideas and I want them to be more thoughtful in their writing. Good job out of you!

  2. Cute. This goes great with Fishies Can't Write!!!


Leave Some Love...