Writing Reviews in 1st or 2nd Grade: Opinion Writing Fun!

June 20, 2014

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may know that teaching writing is my FAVORITE subject to teach in 1st grade. I have a feeling I would love it in kinder or 2nd grade as well. My students’ writing gets longer, more detailed, more persuasive, more informative, more interesting to the reader. I truly love the transformation from our beginning writing in August to the fiction stories with characters, problems, solutions, and more that we write in June.


It inspires me. It really, really does.


My three years in Vegas I had a shorter writing block and a shorter day than I do here in Massachusetts, so naturally I had to make a few tweaks and changes to my writing curriculum. In Vegas, we would spend a trimester each on writing personal narratives, writing informative texts, and then writing opinion papers. I used my Common Core Writing for 1st Grade for most of my core lessons and units and then would supplement with seasonal writing prompts and writing crafts/activities using my Writing Through the Seasons pack. All were Common Core aligned, my students got it, bada-bing, bada-boom.


This year, with 1 hour and 20 minutes to teach writer’s workshop each and every day, I needed more. I could have continued to supplement with writing prompts and fun crafts with writing pieces, but I wanted to add more substance to my previous units. I wanted to take it a little further – and I am glad I did! We, of course, still continued to use seasonal writing prompts and even did a few, fun crafts, but my students got a much deeper knowledge of all three common core writing standards this year than ever before.


I am lucky enough to have the full Lucy Calkins writing curriculum at my new school for the first time and I was able to use that to create a pacing guide with my team that worked for our first graders. I also know from past experience, that while I love Lucy… I need a little more. A little more structure and guidance. A few more options. You might feel that Lucy is enough and then you are one, lucky teacher to have her! But me… I needed a bit more.


In the spring, we started teaching opinions. We expressed our opinions, wrote our opinions, and provided numerous reasons for them. We also spent some time writing persuasive letters to our principal and our parents. Most of the lessons and activities came from Lucy mixed with my Let’s Write an Opinion unit. After we completed that unit, we started writing reviews. My students became critics on all things around them and learned to express their opinion and give a “star-rating” to all sorts of different things.


We had a blast doing this! It took our opinion writing a bit further and got my students to dig a little deeper. They were able to argue (the polite way) their opinions and were even able to persuade others to change their minds. It was so much fun!


I didn’t think to snap that many pictures as we were completing this unit, but here is one of kiddos’ paper reviewing the movie, Frozen. He loved it… shocker 😉


This, month long unit, sparked my creativity and I created a detailed opinion writing pack to help you teach your students how to write reviews:


Inside this unit:
– Getting Started: a detailed outline on how I teach the unit
– What is a review? anchor chart
– The parts of a review mini reference posters
– What can we review? anchor chart
– 3 different activities for students to practice reviewing: a toy review, food tasting, and plenty of different review cards
– 2 different 1st grade “exemplar” student samples
– Graphic organizers to map out student thinking
– Writing templates to pick and choose from
– Class book ideas
– Individual and partner editing checklists
– Individual and partner revision checklists
– Writing reviews rubric

A few samples:

A few anchor charts and to help students reference throughout the unit.

Just one of 3 different activities to help students practice reviewing things! There are 3 more sheets of review cards, along with blank ones for you to fill in reviewable items. My kids loved doing these as warm up activities and they can be used for quick writing prompts as well. The other 2 activities are a toy review and a food tasting. I can tell you the students loved all three!

Some of the “parts of a review” mini reference posters to use throughout the units. I also typed up two different student examples from this year and put them into this unit for reference. They are exemplar pieces, but the students love seeing what they are striving for by the end of this unit.

Plenty of graphic organizers, paper choices, as well as class book covers to use as you please throughout  this unit.

Like in all of my writing packs, this one also has editing and revision checklists (individual and partner choices) as well as a rubric at the end to use for assessment purposes!

My kids and I truly loved this little unit and if you like the set up of my other writing packs, I think you will enjoy this as well. Click on the picture above and download the preview to see more of what is offered in the unit.

Want to take your students from scribbles and sketches to writing published stories?!
I have a free 4-part video series you can watch here. Just click below to get the info!

As always, Happy Writing!

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  • Can I just say that I LOVE THIS?!?! I saw your Facebook post about it & was so excited you made another writing unit! I have your Common Core packet & Through the Seasons packet and love them!

    We have the full Lucy Calkins curriculum at my school as well. While I'm happy to have it, I agree that I want more to use with it. This fits in perfectly with the review section of opinion writing! I would love to know more about how you integrate your units within Lucy's units of study.

    First Time Firstie

  • Thanks Susan! I am always looking for strong writing products and I love your others. I didn't know you are in Massachusetts. I was born and raised in Rhode Island and have been in Florida for 20 years! (OK, that makes me REALLY old:) I can't wait to visit family up there in a few weeks. Enjoy your summer.

    The Resourceful Apple

  • So fun to stumble upon a blog that uses Lucy and TCRWP's Units of Study! I just completed my master's program and studied under Lucy. She and all the Staff Developers are so dang good! I entered the program not knowing much about TCRWP's workshop model, but I left with a mind that's too full. 🙂 I hope you get to attend the summer institutes some time. Even though, I'm an upper grades teacher, I look forward to reading more about the UOS in your classroom.