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A Dozen Ways to Use Speech and Thought Bubbles in Your Classroom

By Shari Edwards on September 12, 2012
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

I often use speech and thought bubbles in my classroom when asking for a written response. Students respond positively to them, and even reluctant writers will try to get their thoughts down on a bubble. In this post, you'll find twelve ways I use speech and thought bubbles in my classroom.





Speech Bubbles

Speech bubbles make wonderful writing prompts, as well as fun classroom reminders. Feel free to adapt any of the below ideas to suit your class.

Write messages to students. For instance, in my classroom you'll see “Did you remember the heading?” written on a speech bubble above the finished papers basket. I once put otiger salamander telling about itself on a speech bubblene on the wall above the trash can that said, “I eat papers without names!” My students thought it was funny, but it helped them remember to check their papers!

Add a writing component to an art project. Let students talk about their animal research by having the animal tell about itself (see left).

Discover what students know about a topic. For example, you might give them this prompt: “Have your raindrop tell about its experience as a part of the water cycle.”

Assign reading response activities to be written on a speech bubble. “What would Tabby tell Mr. Putter to make him pick her?”

Teach writing dialogue. Motivate reluctant writers with cartoon-style stories with speech bubbles that can be transformed into written dialogue.

“Say something.” Have students write about their new learning. Use the bubbles as an exit slip or reflection at the end of a unit.

reading response bubbles

Commercially made bubbles used to reflect on learning during a unit.


Thought Bubbles

Encourage students to think more deeply or share their thoughts and feelings with a variety of thought bubble prompts.

Record inquiry  During a unit, have students write something they wonder about on the bubble.

raindrop telling about the water cycle

Remember questions — Have students write a question they have about the lesson.

Explain mathematical thinking — Ask students to describe how they got their answer during a problem-solving lesson.

Respond to change — I have used this with adults and children to help them process change. Questions feel more comfortable when written as part of their thoughts.

Infer — Have them begin telling their own thoughts with “As I was reading, I was thinking that . . . ” Or use “I infer that the boy was thinking . . .  when . . . ” to make an inference about what a character might be thinking in a story. Sticky note bubbles can be placed on a predetermined page in their book to prompt them to record and share their thinking about that part of the story.

Write feelings These may be for you to read privately during or after a lesson on bully prevention, a behavior discussion, etc.


Resources for Speech and Thought Bubbles

To really use speech and thought bubbles in the classroom, you'll want to keep some of the following resources on hand:

Book List

The books below featuring speech and thought bubbles are perfect for introducing or building on the activities described in this post.

Do Not Open This Book! by Michaela Muntean

The main character speaks directly to the reader using speech bubbles in this book. This is a good book to use for discussion purposes when introducing bubbles to a class.

Do Not Open This Book!

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

A young worm keeps a diary of his daily life and experiences. There are many speech and thought bubbles in this book to help readers decipher what the characters are thinking. Let students add thought bubbles for characters in other books. Students can also try keeping a diary or journal of their own.

The Cow That Went OINK by Bernard Most

All of the animals talk in this book, but most of them speak in the traditional way except one cow. Young students can match simple speech bubbles with animals that make that sound.

The Pigeon Books by Mo Willems

These books about a very talkative and opinionated pigeon are perfect for introducing speech bubbles. Kids love them! Ask students to write new words for the pigeon to say and change the story.

























What are some ways you use speech and thought bubbles? Please share!


Comments (3)

I love the idea of the speech bubbles! We have been preparing for the upcoming Ohio Achievement Assessment and the students are in need of a fun way to show what they know. We will be starting a science unit on living things next week and I can just see the students' enthusiasm when they will be able to submit their answers on speech bubbles! I will use your idea to have an animal talk about themselves telling their habitat, predators, prey, and food. I was wondering if you have any "fun" ideas for helping students write an opinion or fictional narrative.

Thanks for sharing your speech bubble ideas. I am looking forward to my students trying this.

Thanks, Katie! It does get their attention.

These are great tips on using speech bubbles in the classroom and it seems like something that kids would enjoy!
-Katie Jones

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