Persuading Grungy Grace

We are in the middle of writing a persuasive writing piece right now.  Using an idea that I borrowed from my amazing teammate Kristi, the students are writing an essay to convince Grungy Grace (of Jack Prelutsky's poem by the same name) to wash up.  My students are really having a fun time with it!

First, we created an anchor chart of the attributes of persuasive writing. (which I have no picture of because I forgot to take it before Spring Break...sorry!)

Then, as a class, we read this funny poem by Jack Prelutsky.  It is really an engaging poem, that the kids glommed onto immediately.  They loved how the little girl was thinking of "clever" ways to keep from washing, but they all knew that in the end, it was just bad for everyone involved that she was so dirty.

I am extremely devious,
my name is Grungy Grace.
I hardly ever brush my teeth
or wash my hands and face.
“It’s time to wash,” my father says,
but since I’m not a dope,
I simply turn the water on
and wet the towel and soap.

“Brush your teeth,” my mother says,
I never even blink.
I squeeze out gobs of toothpaste,
and I brush the bathroom sink.
I’m very good at fooling them,
my brain’s extremely keen,
but I’ve got lots of rashes
and my teeth are turning green.

After reading and discussing the poem as a class and in partners, had the students create a Circle Map listing all of the reasons why Grace should clean up.  They took this part really seriously.  There were very few "funny" answers.  (I have a very serious class ;) )
Thinking Maps

Thinking Maps

Next, using the ideas brainstormed on the Circle Map, the kids chose the two best arguments and created a Tree Map of those arguments.  The argument itself was the branch, and then under that was at least 3 details to support the argument.

As we had learned, a good persuasive piece always addresses the counterpoint.  So a Multi-Flow Map was used to help the students organize the ideas to respond to the counter-argument.  They thought about what Grungy Grace would say to them in response to the two arguments that were being used to convince her to clean up.  My students really thought of some interesting ideas here.  The response really brought out the fighter in them!  They did NOT want Grace to have *any* reason not to clean herself!

Thinking Maps

Once all of these maps were created, which basically outlaid the entire body of the writing piece, the students began to think about their introduction and conclusions.  The introduction is important, as the students learned, because it lays out the entire viewpoint of the author.  It is here you want to grab the reader and set up your thesis so that, by the end, the reader will be convinced to join your side.  The students made a Tree Map to organize their ideas.  They then did the same for the conclusion, which was a restatement of the argument (for Grace to clean up her act) and a final plea to convince the reader to adopt the same viewpoint.
Thinking Maps

Thinking Maps

Thinking Maps

Click here to get ALL of the Pre-writing Maps I used in class.  They are all generic and can be applied to any persuasive piece.  Personally, I did not copy the templates.  My students just drew their own Maps on a piece of paper.  You can, however, just print them out as a reference for you OR copy them and give them to the students to use.

Thinking Maps

After all of the prewriting took place, we had to put it all together.  We are using Write from the Beginning in my class, so we took the Thinking Maps and used them to organize our draft.  Each Map above basically became one paragraph.   You can see that I had the kids color code the paragraphs as well (intro and conclusion are green, topic sentences for each body paragraph are yellow, and details for each topic are red)  This helps them to keep the structure when writing their draft.

Thinking MapsThe prewrite stage for me takes the longest when I am working on writing pieces.   I have noticed that the longer we stay in prewriting, getting our ideas on paper, and organizing our thoughts, the better the writing turns out at the end.  In fact, the actual drafting of the piece is one of the easier parts of the entire writing process!

Overall, I was really pleased with the way this turned out.  In the future, I would have tried to have more actual facts available to them to add into their piece (as we learned, persuasive pieces are more convincing if you have statistics to back up your claims)  But as a whole, the students really grasped the persuasive idea and they enjoyed the prompt.

What persuasive writing pieces have you done in class with success?


  1. A contest! Kids had to write about the BEST school-wide end of the year party (they were 5th graders and the oldest in the school). It had to be realistic and able to happen. They presented their stories to kids in other grades who voted on the end of the year school party! :)

  2. So much fun! I bet your kids had a blast...and then presenting them sounds like a great experience :)

  3. My students had a contest about the Best Relative in our class. They really loved writing about their relative. We use thinking maps and Write from the Beginning as well, and I want to thank you for giving an excellent example of utilizing the maps, color coding, and making it look so easy. Thank you so much!! What a great idea to use poetry too. I'd love to use your idea for next year. ; )Awesome job!

  4. We watched a reading of the story Don't Let the Pigeon Stay up Late then wrote why he should be allowed to stay up late. Love this idea. We will do this next

  5. I like to use the book, My Brother Dan's Delicious. I love the thinking maps!


  6. This is so cool Steph! I love the graphic organizers you use with your students always!

    One year I was transferred to a 5th grade mainstream class a few weeks into the year from ELL and we had the chance to get some tables when I moved rooms. I used that as opportunity for the kids to write a persuasive piece to me--desks vs. tables!!

    1. I am a Thinking Map girl at heart. I no longer think without they find their way into ALL of my teaching :)

  7. Sounds like fun. I'll have to do this unit next in writing after we finish expository :). Love all of your awesome ideas!

  8. wow - look how in depth you go!
    umm...we don't really do persuasive...I mean, I do, but nothing big...I do a "cat vs. dog" persuasive....ooh!! I have new cute clip art I can use to revamp that! haha!! I have SUCH a clip art addiction right now...someone stop me!! lol

    The Teacher's Cauldron

    1. When you are done with your stuff, you can cutesie up mine. I never make mine worth looking at! Plain and simple...though I know my kids would love it if I used a little clip art every once in a while ;)

  9. Thank you so much for the graphic organizers, these are sure to come in handy. :)

  10. As a middle school teacher of struggling readers (who still take the same standardized state tests as the others), THIS is precisely what I needed to reach them. The organizers are clear and not cluttered. They are also simple enough to remember when they have to write on their own with NO push from me! Thanks again.


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