Using the Weather to Create Mood

I’m in a coaching cycle with fourth grade teachers.  The kids are working on writing historical fiction.  The students have thought about struggles children might face; they have learned a bit about historical time periods; they have tried to place their characters in a historical setting, and they have created multiple story arcs and scenes in their notebooks to play around with story ideas.  Recently we showed students how they could sketch their scenes across pages as a way to plan their stories.

As I pulled up next to a student, I noticed him sketch a sun on the page he was working on.  Suddenly, he flipped back to an earlier page and sketched a cloud in the top left corner.  And then he went right back to the page he was working on. I was curious. It was time to do some research. “I noticed you just flipped to the first page and sketched a cloud.  Can you talk with me about that?”

“Oh, he said,” rather nonchalantly, “I thought that maybe the beginning should be kind of dark (He is setting his story in WW2.), so I put a cloud in the sky.  I figured if I make it dark and rainy, that will help create the mood. This scene here is happier, so I put some sunshine in.”  I must say, I was rather impressed (Completely blown away is more like it!).

Today, as spring continues to struggle to pull out of winter, I thought about that fourth grader and his writing.  This gray, raw, rainy weather has me trapped inside, unable to walk the dog, not wanting to venture out.  My mood is dark.  My energy, waning.  My optimism, nonexistent.  Weather sure can create mood!

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10 thoughts on “Using the Weather to Create Mood

  1. During my sophomore year in college I had a fabulous writing teacher. We sat in a circle and wrote and shared. One rainy, ugly, wormy spring day we must have walked in with our heads down because she stared at us and said, “What’s wrong, you all look awful. I think the weather has you down. Please write what you are feeling right now.”
    We took our our pens and notebooks and wrote and wrote and wrote. When everyone had finished she said, “There. Don’t you feel better now?”
    The weather can do wonders for your writing.

  2. You unraveled this story with such an awareness of craft moves and reflection. Your good coaching also comes out in this post, as I love how you asked him about what he was doing and why. And yes, I’m ready for some sun!

    1. I love this post (and this idea)! Thank you so much for sharing this link. I’m going to try it myself and share it with kids. What a great revision strategy. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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