SHARON’S BLOG

Students will follow along as I guide them through my experience with making stained-glass butterflies. As they read, they’ll be learning how to write a how-to and then insert transitions into the essay to move their readers easily through the process.

Suitable for students in 5th – 12th grade.

My stained-glass how-to

Last week I attended a class on how to make stained-glass butterflies. You know, the kind you hang up on a window with little suction cups.

butterflies image for how-to

The teacher was very clear on how to do each step. We practiced cutting glass first, listening for the “hiss” that showed we were scoring the glass correctly with our cutters. After we had cut a line and a circle (both of which I messed up), he moved us to the next step.

I chose what I thought would be a simple butterfly design and found out how wrong I was.

5th - 12 graders learn from a fun example how to plan and organize their how-to paragraph or essay. Practice transitions, too.

First, I traced a wing onto the glass with a marker. Then I cut a square around the wing so I would have a small piece of glass to work with.

Next, I used my glass cutter to etch the butterfly wing onto the glass. To do that, I had to begin at the edge of the glass, not on the design itself, and then etch my way toward the design. When I got to the design, I traced my glass cutter over it for a little bit and then scooted my cutter off the edge of the design. I did this many times until the whole wing was etched. This is called the fan method of cutting, and it really helps when it comes time to use the pliers to break the glass and separate the design from the rest of the glass. All this etching was hard for me, and it hurt my hand. Also, I wasn’t very good at it. I broke a few wings before I got the hang of it.

After I had cut out my design, I took my wing over to the grinder. It’s a small machine that grinds down the rough edges of the glass. The teacher put his thumb on the grinding part to show me that it would not hurt me.

The grinder is important for two reasons: (1) It makes the design the correct shape, and (2) It takes the sharp edges off the glass so you can handle it without getting sliced. Funny thing, though; when I was grinding my wing, I sliced the pad of my thumb on a sharp glass edge. The teacher was quick with a bandage. Who wants blood all over their grinder?

Now it’s your turn: A how-to paragraph or essay shows readers how to do something. Think of something you know how to do. It can be anything serious like playing soccer or something silly like how to procrastinate. Write down your idea. Now you are going to plan a how-to paragraph or essay, but you do not have to write the whole thing. We’re just practicing here.

Because a how-to must be orderly, first write out the steps in a list. Your list can be numbered, or it can be a bullet list. Leave a whole line between each step. (In other words, double-space your list.)

After you have finished with your list, look at my true story about the butterfly wings and underline all the transitions I used to get you from one step to the next one. In this case, transitions are words like “first,” “second,” “finally,” “then,” “after I had . . .,” “before you can attach . . .,” “while you wait for the glue to dry . . .,” and so on.

When you have underlined my transitions, write your own transitions in the empty lines on your list. Move your readers from one step to the next.

That’s it. You don’t have to write the how-to paragraph or essay unless you are dying to finish this up!

 

Teachers, to download a FREE how-to essay evaluation form and to get more info on the how-to essay, click here.

Teachers, here are my transitions underlined:

The teacher was very clear on how to do each step. We practiced cutting glass first, listening for the “hiss” that showed we were scoring the glass correctly with our cutters. After we had cut a line and a circle (both of which I messed up), he moved us to the next step.

I chose what I thought would be a simple butterfly design and found out how wrong I was. First, I traced a wing onto the glass with a marker. Then I cut a square around the wing so I would have a small piece of glass to work with.

Next, I used my glass cutter to etch the butterfly wing onto the glass. To do that, I had to begin at the edge of the glass, not on the design itself, and then etch my way toward the design. When I got to the design, I traced my glass cutter over it for a little bit and then scooted my cutter off the edge of the design. I did this many times until the whole wing was etched. This is called the fan method of cutting, and it really helps when it comes time to use the pliers to break the glass and separate the design from the rest of the glass. All this etching was hard for me, and it hurt my hand. Also, I wasn’t very good at it. I broke a few wings before I got the hang of it.

After I had cut out my design, I took my wing over to the grinder. It’s a small machine that grinds down the rough edges of the glass. The teacher put his thumb on the grinding part to show me that it would not hurt me.

The grinder is important for two reasons: (1) It makes the design the correct shape, and (2) It takes the sharp edges off the glass so you can handle it without getting sliced. Funny thing, though; when I was grinding my wing, I sliced the pad of my thumb on a sharp glass edge. The teacher was quick with a bandage. Who wants blood all over their grinder?

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Watson
butterfly image copyright © 2015 by Sharon Watson

stained-glass images: amor_kar / adobestock.com

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