This is an activity that I make sure to do every year. I always talk to my students about improving their work, the success criteria, and aiming for their best. I truly believe that all kids want to do well, however, they often don’t know or fully understand what they need to do to improve their work and marks. That’s where cupcakes come in!
We teach kids how to read and write and lots of other important skills, but I realized that I also needed to teach what a level 4 (or an A) looks like in order for students to strive for it. Using cupcakes teaches it in an engaging way that kids understand, and pay attention to.
I used the cupcake idea before a writing activity to show my students what characteristics a level 4 piece of work includes, versus a level 1. I showed an example of a level 1 (a mark of a D) writing piece. (Leveled examples are available through Teachers Pay Teachers – Link below.)
We discussed what was well done in the level 1 writing and what it lacked. I then showed the plain cupcake. Nothing on it. No icing. No sprinkles. Nothing. The level 1 cupcake is incomplete, just like the writing example.
Above are the descriptions of the levels/marks.
As a class, we went though each grading level. For each level, I added something to our cupcake. For a level 2 piece (a C grade) I added icing.
Children were pretty excited about our level 3 (a B grade) cupcake. We added some sprinkles and candies on top. The cupcake modeled that a level 3 piece of work is good. The work is complete and it included what was assigned. It looks good too!
The level 4 (an A grade) is always fun for children to see as a cupcake. We added a huge chocolate, some coloured icing and even a candle. Our level 4 includes everything the level 3 does, but with extras. We don’t have to add the huge chocolate and the other extras, but it is so much better when we do! This cupcake (and a level 4 piece of work) goes above and beyond.
After we had gone through all of the levels, I gave each child a cupcake. I also posted our cupcake pictures in the classroom to remind students the differences between the levels. (Printable cupcake photos available for free download below). After modeling the grade levels in this way, my students all completed amazing pieces of writing. They clearly understood the success criteria that I was looking for.
Although I used the cupcakes for a writing example, the idea can be used for any subject area and for any project. In class, we constantly talked about our “Level 4 Cupcake” when completing work.
For more hands-on ideas for kids to do at home or school, check out the activity boards below with over 140 activities from all subject areas. (Available on Teachers Pay Teachers.)
Writing examples and printables for this activity available on TpT. Click photo for link.