Words of the Week – A Writing Exercise

Download PDF

One of the things I do in my 7th grade literature class is post a word of the day.  I really didn’t do anything with this word other than define it and share a sentence with the word.  That left me feeling that the students didn’t really get enough exposure to the word, so I decided that they had to write a paragraph using each word of the day at the end of the week.

The kids had a blast writing their paragraphs.  They all came up with bizarre and entertaining stories, so I decided to join them and write a couple of these stories of my own.  I have three literature classes, so I modeled the behavior I desired and wrote three little stories.  One was pretty brutal, so I’ll post the other two right here.

The first time through, I went with a completely ridiculous situation, which is always a hit with the middle school students. Remember, this is just a work of fiction. I don’t do anything mean to cats in real life. Here are the words of the week and the first paragraph.

Famish – Memento – Uncanny – *Zip – Enigmatic

Mr. Cuddlepants stole my memento!

Mr. Cuddlepants stole my memento!

For my birthday, my brother took me out to eat at Burger King.  I was famished, so I ate three king sized whopper value meals, but I saved one french fry as a memento of the fabulous birthday meal.  That single french fry was sitting on the mantle above my fireplace.

One day, my wife asked me why I had the fry on the mantle, and I shouted at her, “Don’t question why I have that there.  You were going to eat it.  Weren’t you!”

“No, but the cat just gave me an enigmatic look, like it wanted to eat it,” she replied.

“Mr. Cuddlepants!” I shouted.  “Get down from the mantle!”

With uncanny quickness, the cat snatched the french fry with its mouth as it leapt down from the mantle.  I was furious.  How dare Mr. Cuddlepants eat my birthday memento.  Later that evening, I caught the cat as it was napping.  I zipped him up in his kitty straightjacket and threw him in a cage for the rest of the night.  That will teach ’em.

Yeah, I know that was a little bit harsh at the end, but Mr. Cuddlepants better recognize.  You don’t get between a man and his french fries.  Well, that and I needed to fit the word zip in there somewhere.

The third time through, I went with a more serious approach. Here are the words again.  One word is different because on Thursdays we have Dictionary Roulette.  This is where I open the dictionary to a random page and have a student point in the dictionary.  Wherever they land, that is the word of the day for the class.

Famish – Memento – Uncanny – *Maroon – Enigmatic

I watch too much Survivorman.

I watch too much Survivorman.

Fourteen weeks ago, the brutal winds and massive storm surges slammed my boat onto a rocky shoreline crushing the boat’s hull.  I am marooned.  To some, a small tropical island covered with palm trees looks like paradise, but in reality, its  nothing more than a prison cell.  My body is famished, for all I can find to eat are rotting coconuts and washed up sea snails.   All that I have left to remind me of my previous life is a small memento, a silver wedding band on my left ring finger.  I have to get back to the mainland.  Could my uncanny ability to survive in the harshest conditions pay off?  I flash an enigmatic smile.  Only time would tell.  I push my make-shift raft into the sea, hoping the winds and currents would lead me back home.

I’m not quite sure a wedding ring is a memento, but in the ten minutes that I allow for this little writing exercise, it was the best I could do.  What do you think about this on demand writing exercise?  I found it rather fun.