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An Original Wacky We-Search Report housed at WritingFix
this writing across the curriculum assignment inspires summarizing, not plagiarizing

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The Wacky "Box of Rocks" Writing Activity

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This Activity's Title:

The Wacky
"Box of Rocks" Assignment

creating unusual food containers that creatively show knowledge of learned facts

This wacky activity was created by Northern Nevada teacher Joni Martindale.

This original summarizing activity was inspired by Barry Lane's awesome book, 51 Wacky We-Search Reports. Barry's fifty-one writing formats in his book teach students how to summarize (not plagiarize) facts from readings or from class notes. The book also encourages humor in the classroom, and using it will help you build a community among your student writers. If you don't own this book, but like the assignment on this page, we strongly recommend you purchase a copy.

Overview of this Wacky Writing Activity:

Students will demonstrate learned knowledge of rocks and minerals in a creative way by “inventing” a new food inspired by the facts and characteristics they have learned. Their project will be designing a box or container that holds their new “food.” After they have created "box of rocks" products when studying earth science, consider using this wacky we-search assignment for different science or curriculum areas:

The Set-up:

Rocks can be like a present. Sometimes, you don’t know what you really have until you open them up!

This wacky we-search project is designed to be assigned at the end of a unit on rocks and minerals. First, bring your class together and review what they have learned about rocks and minerals. Write the information they give you on chart paper or the board to be used as a reference throughout the project.

You will need the following materials:

  • empty cereal and other types of food boxes
  • colored paper
  • markers
  • crayons
  • glue or tape
  • and a teacher-made example (see below)

The Punch:

Now tell your students they are going to be inventors! Pair them up to “invent” a new food based on one of the rock types or minerals they have studied. Ask them, "Who wouldn’t want to bite into a delicious bit of mineral or crunch a rock!?" Tell them their job is to create a snazzy-looking product that would make consumers want to do just that!

Once the pairs of students have decided what their new “food” will be, they get to design a box for it! The boxes should be modeled after “normal” food boxes and include:

  • the name of the “food” on the front and on at least one other part of the box,
  • a catchy phrase on the front representing their “food”,
  • a picture/illustration of their “food” product on the front,
  • a list of “ingredients” on the side of the box,
  • a list of “nutritional” values on the side of the box,
  • and another illustration/picture or activity on the back of the box.


A Funny Tip:

Have your students look for those unusual or unique facts about their rock or mineral that they can play with and create something humorous and exciting for their food box. For example, when lava erupts under water, it makes pillow-shaped lumps. This fact might encourage students to write, "Here's a pillow that's pretty hard to fluff before you go to sleep!" as a catchy phrase on their box.


A Teacher-Made Sample:
(Click on the images to view/print larger verisons to show your students)

(Nevada teacher Joni Martindale shows off her teacher-made example.)

(The side of Joni's "box of rocks")

(The back of Joni's "box of rocks")


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