Bringing a Skeleton to Life
It would go very well with today's theme if you could have a leftover chicken
wing (the BBQ kind is delicious!) or drumstick. But if you don't have those
bones, you can have some celery sticks and pretend! Enjoy a tall glass of water
and imagine what would happen if a skeleton drank it!
Print out skeleton
Cut 8-10 pieces of
scrap paper into a "skull" and various "bones,"
Including foot bones, to
fit over the skeleton picture
Scotch tape | Piece of
lined writing paper | No. 2 pencil
of your writing plan as being like a skeleton, hanging from a hook in a science
have planned your paper's hidden structure - the point you want to make -- the
basics of what you need to research and write - your beginning, middle and end.
have a clear idea of its final shape. For example, you want to end up with a
five-paragraph book report, or a three-page paper on animals as symbols in
it's time to fill out that skeleton. Only instead of adding flesh and bones to
a skeleton, you're going to add the words and ideas to your structure to make
it come alive. Just for an example, think of the skeleton's head as the
beginning of your writing assignment, the middle of the body as the middle of
your paper, and the lower legs and feet as the ending.
some kinds of writing, you can keep your "skeleton" pretty simple.
more complex your paper or story is going to be, the more structure you will
need as you plan your paragraphs.
your paper or story is going to be short but sweet, keep your structure simple
- maybe five paragraphs, with a one-paragraph beginning, three paragraphs in
the middle with details advancing your theme, and then a final fifth paragraph wrapping
up to your conclusion.
of paragraphs as like the major bones in a skeleton. Each major bone has an
important purpose - the backbone holds up the body, the shoulder bones hold up
the arms, the hip bones hold up the legs, etc. And all the bones connect to
the same thing with writing. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, or
key point, that somehow connects to the overall topic or key point of your
paper, and moves your text along toward the conclusion.
the first sentence in each paragraph should suggest that paragraph's topic and
link to the paragraph that came before. If your paper or story is pretty short,
that's true: get to the point quickly, right off the bat!
if your paper or story is several pages long, you might need a sentence or even
two of transition to start off a new paragraph and THEN get to the main point
of that new paragraph.
a paragraph has more than one sentence. Usually, though, a paragraph shouldn't
have too many sentences, or the reader won't be able to understand so many
at the skeleton picture, below, and notice how small the head and feet are, in
relation to the rest of the body. Take that as a cue for how short your beginning
and ending should be, in most papers.
of it this way: if a person's head is huge and weighs a lot, it puts a lot of
pressure on the rest of the body to hold it up. So a long, complex beginning to
a piece of writing is usually a pretty bad idea.
the ending of your story, like the bones in the feet, should be stable and
powerful, able to hold up the rest of your story - or skeleton - so that it
literally can "stand," or be satisfying to the reader.
let's use the skeleton model to plan a short story. Why don't you write it
about ways we can all take good care of our bodies, including our bones?
the "skull" that you cut out, write a word or phrase that can symbolize what
you want to say in the beginning. On the "foot bones" that you cut out, write a
word or a phrase to symbolize what will be the main point of the end of your
the other bones, write a word or two to remind you of various other points you
want to make. These will be the paragraphs in the middle.
your "bones" over the skeleton picture until they are in the order you think
you'd like to use. Tape them in place with Scotch tape.
use a piece of lined paper to write your five-paragraph paper, using this
you're finished, keep both the skeleton and your paper, and show them to at
least two people to get their reactions to how you "boned up" to write a good