Nothing to Do! {A 7 Habits FREEBIE!}

Writer's workshop can be one of the most challenging subjects to teach. Add in a few reluctant writers, and your entire workshop becomes the longest part of your day. By giving your students a few words to start with, you can often spark a little bit of written inspiration in your writers.


Over the last fifteen years, I've started to incorporate thinking stems into my writer's workshop more often. Not every student will need them, but every student can certainly benefit from having thinking stems available.

I usually post a few on the day's anchor chart, or I provide them to students at my table in a small group.

I like to give students a variety of thinking stems to choose from. They need to feel comfortable finishing the sentence before they can feel inspired to write the next one! It also keeps our class pieces from getting "stale" and hearing the same phrases repeated over and over.


I'd love to share a recent thinking stem activity with you today!

Our Student Lighthouse Team worked together to choose the different books we used as a school to promote the 7 Habits. They chose one for each month we were in school, and each classroom was given a copy. While the majority of the books incorporated several different habits, the Student Lighthouse Team wanted to make sure we spent some quality time at the end of the year talking about Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw.

 Click Me!

Nothing to Do is a book about everything you can do during those rare moments in life when there's (sigh) nothing to do.  I love the way the author guides readers to use their imaginations to explore the great outdoors and the magic in everyday objects. I don't know about you, but sometimes it seems as though this is something my students struggle more with every year!

After we read the book we talked about the things we could do to avoid boredom. My two classes were very different this year. In my morning group, we sat and brainstormed out loud before the kids went back to their seats to work. In my afternoon group, I made a chart listing the keywords they would need to write their responses. In both groups, I used a set of thinking stems to model responses for my kiddos.

Thinking stems are a great way to get your reluctant writers putting pencil to paper. If the first half of the sentence is there, they have no excuse for not finishing it! :) They also provide a solid model for your students who need extra support in writing stronger sentences.

I always have a group of kids who ask if they have to use the thinking stems... this is usually how I know they've outgrown that strategy. :) I tell them to write 2 sentences on their own and then stop by for a quick conference. This lets me give them the independence they are seeking without letting them run wild into a writing piece they may not be ready for yet.

I asked the kids to use at least 2 of the thinking stems. Again, giving them more options than necessary lets them have more control over their final piece. It also ensures that your hallway displays won't be boring and repetitive! :)

It's always interesting to me to see which kids pick different thinking stems. Their "voices" start to appear as they make different choices.

So, if you think this is something you'd like to use I have it here for you! I've included the thinking stems chart and two different publishing pages - one with primary lines and one without.

Get your FREE Nothing to Do writing activity!

Implement thinking stems with your students today!
    I promise I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Powered By ConvertKit


    1. Goodness, how do I sharpen my saw? I read- a lot. I also listen to books when I can. I play golf and I walk. Those are things I do just for me! I also blog.....Ha!
      Teachers Are Terrific!

      1. I'm with you on everything but the golf --- HA!! My dad tried to get us to play when we were young, and (bless his heart) none of us ever liked it! :)

        Thanks for stopping by!