How to Plan a Publishing Party That Will Actually Wow Students

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Lucy and I have a love-hate relationship.  Lucy Caulkins that is.  While I adore her theory and many of her ideas for structuring Writers Workshop, I often feel it can become a bit monotonous, especially for Kindergarten students.  This feeling often grows during those few lessons leading up to publishing or a publishing party.  While my students last year became so excited at the mere mention of Writers Workshop, my group this year hasn’t grown to love our special writing time.  And to be honest, I’ve been feeling that we needed to spice things up as well.

Driving home from school one day, which happens to be when almost all of my ideas come to me, I was trying to think of a way to make our next Writers Workshop a hit with the kids.  I knew we were scheduled to have our publishing party, but wasn’t sure exactly what it would look like.  Lucy offers several suggestions in her books – but they just weren’t meshing with what I felt we needed.  Then it hit me!

Spending only $11.00, let me show you how I set the stage to engage and wow’ed my students during our recent publishing party.  Did I mention the prep work is minimal?

How to Plan a Publishing Party That Will Actually Wow Students

Before our publishing party I created a simple banner using butcher paper.  A tip I learned quite some time ago for creating stellar anchor charts and banners is to place the paper on your SMART Board/MIMIO Board/projector screen/etc and trace the letters or pictures.  Works like a charm and I don’t have to start over 5 times because of a mistake!

With the banner template created,  I invited the kids to help decorate it throughout the day.  I LOVE group art projects and corralling all of the kids together to create one final product.  When our banner was finished, I hung it up for display during the party.

Like all good parties we needed some sort of food!  My kids had recently been begging to cook something, so I figured a little baking was in order.  We were celebrating after all!

We mixed all of the ingredients together, then I separated the mixture into plastic cups for each child.

To add a little writing flair and self-esteem to our baking fun, I had the kids add a drop of food coloring to their batter to show what they were most proud of in their published piece of writing.  The possibilities for this are endless, but ours went a little something like this…

  • Red = spacing
  • Blue = stretching out words
  • Green = story makes sense
  • Yellow = capital letters
  • Purple = punctuation

Kids are always amazed at how food coloring changes the color of things!

Once everyone had their batter and coloring mixed together, I helped them scoop their mixture into a cake pan using a rubber spatula.

All of the variation in colors make this cake look AMAZING!

 And it tastes pretty good, too!

Once we got the cake into the oven to bake we got serious about sharing our published writing!  I picked up these cute little glitter hats at Dollar Tree and used them as a visual reminder for who was sharing.  Students wearing a hat were the readers and students not wearing a hat were the audience.

We gathered in two circles facing each other and started by reading our writing to that partner.  Once the reader was finished reading, the listener gave one comment about what they liked in the story.  I then had the outer circle (the readers) rotate clockwise to music.  When I stopped the music the outer circle stopped moving and read their story to their new partners.  We did this several times and then switched roles.

What exactly did my $11.00 go towards?  Cake mix, food coloring, glitter hats, and these colorful table centerpieces.

My goal for this publishing party was to create more excitement about our writers workshop and the writing process, and I think it safe to say “mission accomplished.”  I’m excited to work through our next Lucy writing unit and plan the next publishing party!


  1. How fun! I teach 4th grade and I do believe that I can safely “upgrade” some of these ideas!

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