Ralph Fletcher calls this activity "Digging Up Buried Stories." As students go through the activity, they first draw the place (a tried and true vacation spot, their neighborhood, house, bedroom, or anywhere they know well). This allows the chance to deeply think of the details of that place. Next, we label our drawings. Not just the actual place or object, but any memories of that specific place or object. The best step is allowing students the chance to talk to a buddy about their drawing. This is huge! Letting students talk and ask questions encourages them to share stories they may not have even known they have to tell. It validates their thinking and gets them excited to write.
Last, of course, we write. It could be a quick 5-10 minutes, or turn into a longer piece for those students who find something really great to continue working with.
In the spirit of modelling, here is my drawing that I share every year. It's one of my favorite places in the world (and I'm gearing up to visit soon!) It's tucked into the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. This place holds so much adventure, and culture, and nostalgia for me. I'm eager to have another week here with my family to create new memories.
I'll share some writing this little drawing inspired soon!