Writing Mini Lesson #28- Million Dollar Words- WORD CHOICE

Welcome to mini lesson #28!  Whether you have been following all of the mini lessons in order or stumbling across this one individually, you will find some great ideas for lessons on WORD CHOICE!  I call it MILLION DOLLAR WORDS.  In case you missed the last mini lesson, it was on Rockin Beginnings– ways to begin a narrative essay.  Moving onto WORD CHOICE, I have a step-by-step approach to share.

million dollar word color-coding

For all of my writing lessons, I feel it is important to use MENTOR TEXT to show students how real authors use that skill.  In my mentor text .pdf that is included in all of the STEP-BY-STEP INTERACTIVE WRITING NOTEBOOKS, these are the books I suggest.  If you aren’t using the suggested mentor text list in your school, you don’t necessarily have to stick by the grade levels below.  If you have one of them in your classroom library already, use it!  I broke it down in grade levels for schools and districts who purchased my writing notebook programs to keep it fresh each year.

(I provided links to some of the books.  I use affiliates solely to keep my blog running so I can provide quality content and ideas for teacher.)

K-  Brave as a Mountain Lion by Ann Herbert Scott
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

1st-  Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
Same Smug Slug by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Conner

2nd-  Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Dinorella:  A Prehistoric Fairy Tale by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Tulip Sees America by Cynthia Rylant

3rd-  The Whales by Cynthia Rylant
The Z Was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg

4th-  The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter
Amos and Boris by William Steig
Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson

5th-  When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan
Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris
Caves by Stephen Cramer

6th-  If Not for the Cat by Mary Blount Christian
The Man Who Carried His Heart in a Bucket
Roxaboxen by Barbara Cooney

7th-  The Bunyans by Audrey Wood
Monkey Business by Wallace Edwards
The Cat’s Pajamas by Wallace Edwards

8th-  Tiki Tiki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Oh the Place You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

How do you use mentor text?  Go through the book and pick out places where the author shows good imagery.  As you read the book to the students, stop and point out the words you marked.  Here is an example form I Love You the Purplest by Barbara M. Joossee.  Say to the students, “Close your eyes and make a picture in your mind as I read a few sentences.”

“The lake slowed its thrashing to a soft, even beat.  The mosquitos dipped low to the water and the water bugs skittered on top.  The moon glowed on one side of the lake while the sun shimmered on the other.”

Use anchor charts to teach the lessons.  I put them on my smart board and then add them as posters to our writing center.  With the FAAVS, point out that each letter represents a type of million dollar word and they each have a color to represent it.  This is important for practicing because students color-code their sentences.  Also explain that many of the sense words can also be adjectives.  They were added as a separate category to help students think of ways to add million dollar words to their sentences.

make your writing descriptive
Explain each of the FAAVS


Then give examples of each one using the same sentence to show how to BUILD A SENTENCE.


WORD CHOICE USING figurative language, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, sense words

Students should take notes to help retain the information and gain ownership of their writing.

Provide students with copies of some of the information to keep in their writing folder to refer to when writing independently.  I also give them a Million Dollar Dictionary with some million dollar words and lines to add more.

A great way to provide practice during center time is with task cards that scaffold from choosing the best million dollar word to rewriting sentences with million dollar words.

Last, provide a variety of independent practice.  You can use one as an assessment of the skill.

color-coding building sentences

         BULLETIN BOARD-  Write a million dollar sentence, color-code, and illustrate.   GREAT IDEA:::Walk around the room while students are adding million dollar words to their narrative stories.  When you find someone who created a great example, give him/her something to write on and place it on a MILLION DOLLAR BULLETIN BOARD.   Students get so excited to see a classmate doing this and start busily doing the same!  It makes an adorable bulletin board.  I actually kept mine up all year and referred back to it and shared examples from it when we were revising a story.  Here are some examples:

color-coding descriptive writing
dollar sign writing
I hope this will help your students with word choice!
The next writing mini lesson #29- is Variety of Sentences
Like always,
     If you would rather have all of the these mini lessons (over 400 pages) in one spot along with tracking forms, goal forms, prompts, practice sheets, etc, etc.  Click on the pic below!  Boost those test scores with a STEP-BY-STEP year-long writing program!

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