The four-square writing method can be used at almost every elementary level and can even be creatively adapted for middle school or high school writers. For first grade it helps to model writing at it's most basic level; combining words to make a sentence. With the fall season here, and weather as one of our science topics, students in Room 108 brainstormed together around the "fall" topic. Below are two examples of student work from our four-square writing activity. The front side is the brainstorm activity, done as a class. The topic "fall" is in the circle with the four squares identifying how fall looks, feels, smells, and things they like to do.
The second image is the reverse side of the four-square, which is completed independently. Each box is numbered on both sides so children know which box they are writing in when they are flipping back and forth. Each square on the reverse challenges students to piece together the words from the brainstorm into complete sentences with a capital letter and punctuation mark. For the "fall" topic, three of the four sentences begin with the word fall. When a sentence is complete, children are then to draw a picture that illustrates the sentence for the box.
The two images combine for a great example of a finished product from a four-square writing lesson. The two pictures are from two different students and show that students are not creating the same four sentences. The whole class brainstorm offers student to pick words and create sentences unique to their interpretation of the topic. In this case you can see that in square number four, one student likes to jump into leaf piles in the fall while the other likes to ride bike in the fall. Four-square writing requires an extended amount of student focus, effort, critical thinking and creativity about a topic. The fall four-square writing was a great success!