Memoir Writing

At the beginning of your memoir unit, have students write a memoir and assess using a personal narrative or impromptu quick scale (see assessment tab above for student-friendly rubrics).  Use this assessment to inform your instruction.  As you explicitly teach each mini-lessons like those below, assess again, providing students with descriptive feedback regarding their progress. When students see their progress on a highlighted rubric, they are motivated to continue.

Book Title/Cover Memoir Overview Objective Lesson Links & Black Line Masters
Never underestimate the power of books to leverage conversation in the classroom and add joy to children’s writing.  Bibliotherapy is a simple enough concept, but its benefits run deep. Don’t overlook the connections to B.C’s Core Competencies with these Todd Parr books! Reading Todd Parr books aloud to students will naturally create conversation.  And all this talk will turn into some delightful classroom books that students will want to read over and over again.  Black line masters make this a simple task. Writing Trait: Ideas 

Todd Parr and Core Competency Writing Ideas

This lovely book is filled with opinions regarding things liked and not liked. As children hear this book read aloud, they will be encouraged to formulate their own ideas regarding likes and dislikes. I Like Bees, I Don’t Like Honey

With thanks to Samantha Hanevich for her amazing bulletin board samples!


Number 21 recalls an event in author Nancy Hundal’s life in which her Dad brings home a new truck. Readers are lead on a mini mystery as the truck is used in an unconventional way on a hot summer day. Well written memoirs are based on ideas that have a very tight focus. In this lesson, Nancy’s book is used as a mentor text to model the narrow writing focus we want our students to have. With a narrow focus in mind, students are invited to draw a picture. The language they use becomes the basis for our descriptive feedback. Generating memoir topics at the beginning of the unit 

Writing Trait: Ideas   Number 21 ~ Drawing a favourite memory

The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy, by Ursus Wehrli is a visual masterpiece begging for conversation. In this lesson, simply turn each page and open minds through discussion, questions, and reactions.  After reading, encourage students to find objects, both inside and outdoors, that lend themselves to a playful “clean-up!” Writing Trait: Ideas 

 The Art of Clean Up

Based on a true story, My Dream Playground recounts the events leading up to the first playground built by KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization that has created more than two thousand play-spaces. In this lesson grade one students will envision their dream playground, build it inside or out, draw it and write about it. Writing Trait: Ideas

My Dream Playground

K & 1 templates

I LOVE this book! By putting art first, students are motivated to write about a time they felt … happy, confused, furious, shocked, afraid, proud, jealous etc.Buy some vibrant chalk pastels, and raid your artroom for black construction paper and you’re set!  In this lesson, you’ll share the book Happy written by Mies Van Hout, then students will create some vibrant pictures with fishy emotions, and write about a time they felt this way. I love reading about the lives of students and hope you will too! Writing Trait:  Ideas (details)


Happy K 1 examples 

Graham isn’t too sure about school and reading is often difficult for him.  When he realizes that the 100th day of school falls on the same day as his birthday, he’s sure everyone will forget about his special day. Do they? In this lesson students will infer meaning from pictures by adding their brilliant thinking and co-create writing criteria. When the rules for writing come from them, our students are more likely to apply the criteria. The result ~ happy teachers and happy kids! Writing Trait: Co-create all traits

Happy 100th Day!

Two very different friends explore what it would be like to be more like the other. The objective of this lesson is to have young students add details or elaborate on one idea. Writing Trait: Ideas

Me and You

There are lots of new things in kindergarten. tiptoe into offers a glimpse into the first days of school when doing things with others may be a bit overwhelming. The objective of this lesson is to teach young children how to elaborate or add details about one topic using Lori Rog’s Five Finger strategy. Writing Trait: Ideas

Tiptoe into kindergarten

While students and teacher walk to the park, the last child in the line sees something that no one else sees and the creativity begins. Students create their own squiggles using string or markers, then turn them into something imaginative. Writing Trait: Ideas

The Squiggle

Be careful with that stick… or is it a stick? This book provides creative inspiration. In this lessons, students think of different things that a stick might become. This is not a stick, it’s a magician’s wand! Writing Trait: Ideas

Not a Stick

To prevent his son from being injured, mother mouse wraps her son in cotton balls. Will this protective coating protect her son from injury. Adding details to a memoir about an “owie” is the objective of this writing lesson. After co-creating criteria about what to include when writing a personal story, the focus of the lesson and self assessment is about details. Writing Trait: Ideas

Cottonball Colin
Cotton Ball Colin BLM for writing

When Matt goes out to play in his new neighborhood, all he sees is a boring, empty lot. But with a stick, a little imagination and a few new friends, Mattland is born. In this lesson, students use the Show, Don’t Tell writing strategy to add details to their writing. Writing Trait: Ideas    


Stanley never goes anywhere without his stick and he never runs out of creative ways to play with it.  At the beach one day, he decides to hurl it into the sea.  I love the play on words in the book and the ending is not to be missed! Immerse kids in play before reading this book.  In this lesson, kids will gather sticks and play, build, create and draw. Armed with these experiences, they will write about their stick play. Writing Trait: Ideas

Stanley’s Stick
Stanley’s Stick 11 x 17 response sheet for K and 1s

Father and son watch machines at work while a new school is built. Getting young students to add details to their written work is the focus of this lesson. Writing Trait: Ideas

Building With Dad

Granpa has magical explanations for ordinary things – a frosty window-pan, dewdrops sparkling on the grass, even his own bald head – and Granpa never lies. In this lesson, students listen for the kinds of details that writers include that other people tend to miss. Teacher and students co-construct criteria about adding details to a their writing. Writing Trait: Ideas 

Grandpa Never Lies

From the first line of text, you just know this book is loaded with voice! Sophie Peterman has a lot to say about baby brothers. Will her opinion change as she gets to know the newest member of the family? In this lesson, students learn about voice by assessing voice in sample pieces of text. Writing Trait: Voice

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth

This is a wordless picture book with hilarious photos of food. Use the photos as a means to gather details in a kid-friendly way. Use the Show, Don’t Tell strategy to describe emotions. In this example “mad” is analyzed. Writing Trait: Ideas

Show Don’t Tell BLM

Food Play Images

Mom is having a baby example