Story Narrative Imaginative … Creative …

At the beginning of your story writing unit, have students write a short (one page) story and assess using a narrative quick scale (click this link  for student-friendly rubrics).  This assessment will inform your instruction.

Choose mini-lessons based on student needs. Do they need help writing dialogue, organizing their story, or suggestions with transitions?  As you explicitly teach, assess again, providing students with descriptive feedback regarding their progress. When students see their progress, through descriptive feedback and on a highlighted rubric, they are motivated to continue.

Book Title/Cover Story Overview Objective Lesson Links & Black Line Masters
You are going to love this book by Bethany Barton!  I sure did!  Spiders can be difficult to love, but the more you know about them and the more humour that surrounds them, the more chance there is for an attraction to emerge! Where do I begin?  In this lessons, there are suggestions for outdoor learning, art, inquiry,  spider  research, a maker activity, checking out emotions, and some writing of course!

Writing Trait: Ideas & Voice

I’m Trying to Love Spiders


With amazing photographs and simple text, author April Pulley Sayre has captured a magnificent story of the outdoors. Take students outside.  Notice the growth of nature.  Name plants or growing objects. Combined with an  online verb list, you might be surprised at the sophisticated writing that results!

Writing Trait:  Word Choice and Sentence Fluency

Bloom Boom

Several picture books are featured in this inquiry into words through playful creativity Children are encouraged to think creatively, play games and create some of their own as they launch into all the fun that words have to offer!  Writing Trait:  Word Choice


Words ~ A Playful Exploration


Edwurd spends his time cooking up big fibs. But one day he tells such a whopping lie that the army, the air force, and the dogcatcher are called to reverse the damage. Even your reluctant writers will want in on this one.  Students are invited, yes invited to tell a lie… along with two truths.  Can classmates guess which one is the lie?

Writing Trait: Ideas and Voice


Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big ~ 2 Truths and a Lie

Character flaws make awesome problems in a story. But how can we share this concept with students? A slide show of picture books may just help to convince your students that character flaws can be a great way to create a problem when they write a story. Writing Trait: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice


Character Flaws Make Awesome Story Problems

This book might be about robots that magically transform into a super shiny metal ROBO-BOOK, but this lesson is slightly different! In this writing lesson, students will go on a scavenger hunt in the library to find a secret trick that some writers know about.  But what is it?  Your students will love this mystery! Writing Trait:  Organization


Leads ~ How do writers create their lead sentence(s)?

Thanks to the students in Alysha Birnie’s class at Huband!


In this Robert Munsch classic, playdough cookies are made realistically enough to cause a variety of people to actually take a bite. Using playdough, students create a cookie of thier own making sure to add lots of details! Once complete, students walk around the classroom offering written, positive, descriptive feedback about the details they like in the cookies they see.  A perfect fit with assessment for learning strategies. Writing Trait: Ideas


Mmmmm Cookies Robert Munsch:  An ARTFUL, Assessment FOR Learning lesson


Lucy Cousins, author and creator of Maisy, invites children to pretend they are a bird for a dy. After doing a mini-inquiry about peacocks, students will add fascinating facts (aka details) to a piece of writing in which they are pretending to be a peacock for a day. Writing Trait: Ideas


Details ~ Hooray for Birds ~ Peacock for a day


Lacey Walker learns a thing or two about the importance of listening! In this lesson, students use highlighter pens to distinguish between dialogue and the dialogue tag.  Explicit instruction goes a long way towards improvement of this tricky skill.

 Writing Trait: Voice ~ learning about dialogue

Dialogue from Lacey Walker Nonstop Talker

   Things To Do brings life to the small moments in life.  This story is cleverly told from different perspectives.  Writing in role is always a favourite and this book provides a recipe how to do just that! Writing Trait: Ideas



Details ~ Things to Do


These books have been carefully selected for their use of sensory language. The link to this lesson will actually take you to a series of lessons that repeat themselves.  In this way, students get lots of practice adding sensory language to their writing.  Student self-assessment strategies are included. Writing Trait:  Ideas


How do I get my students adding sensory details to their writing? Using mentor text to co-create ideas

(Print pages on 11 x 17 paper)

“Sit back, relax, stay right where you are.  It’s time to reveal my spectacular car!”This rhyming book is sure to spark curiosity and fuel creativity! Kids will use their imagination and variety of How-To-Draw books to design and label, then write about a very creative car they have imagined.  Throw in some cars to play with and a trip out to the parking lot to build some car-specific vocabulary, and you’ve got a kid-friendly, playful writing lesson! Writing Trait: Ideas (details) & Organization (beginning and ending) 


If I Built a Car

If I Built a Car gr 2 and 3 black line masters

 Chico Bon Bon a monkey who has been captured by an organ grinder.  But Chico Bon Bon has his tool belt with him and devises a creative plan of escape.  Chico Bon Bon’s plan of escape is written up step by step and every tool he uses is carefully described.  In this lesson, your students will learn about the names and uses of tools, then create a plan of escape similar to that of Chico!

Writing Trait: Ideas and Word Choice


Monkey With a Tool Belt

Monkey With a Tool Belt ~ Drafting black line masters

Monkey With a Tool Belt ~ Writing black line masters with learning intention

Printing on 11 x 17 tabloid paper will give students lots of room to draw and write.

  When Henry loses his favourite toy rabbit, Raspberry, he seeks the advice of his Grandpa who tells him to use his imagination and pretend his friend is still with him. When Henry pretends, he creates quick stories with a main idea and details.  In this lesson, students will create an imaginary story with their own main idea and detail. Pop the pages together to create a class book. Writing Trait: Ideas


The Power of Henry’s Imagination


Even though Mom and Dad say no to a new pet, Prudence is determined to find the perfect pet ~ in the MOST creative ways of course! Author Cathleen Daly, knows how to “Show, not tell” her readers.  In this lesson, students are taught a strategy that will help them avoid those all too common sentences we read in our students writing, “She/he was happy.”

Writing Trait: Ideas

Prudence Wants a Pet

  An exclamation mark desperately wants to fit in with his peers, the periods, but he is so different.  When a question mark asks far too many questions, exclamation mark yells at him to stop! By doing so, he finds his place in life.  After hearing this creative story about periods, exclamation marks and question marks, students will create artful examples of each.

Writing Trait: Conventions

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Hermit crab needs a new shell, but each one is, well, a little too plain. Just as hermit crab adds items to decorate his shell, writing needs a little decorating too.  In this lesson students will add details to their drawing of a house, then write about their additions.  In another activity, students will stretch their minds creatively as they use sea creatures in innovative ways!

Writing Trait: Ideas

House for a Hermit crab adding Details

Cameron Girard does everything he can to destroy the ugly sweater that Grandma knit for him. But as Grandma describes what all the colours mean, Cameron has a change of heart. Do some of your students write long stories that don’t seem to make sense? To prepare for story writing, students will examine the problem and solution framework of this story and others.

Writing Trait: Ideas

The Truly Terrible Horrible Sweater ~ A simple story framework

The Truly Terrible Horrible Sweater That Grandma Knit Dialogue Leads and Tags

Charlie is babysitting Lola and must get her to eat some not-so-favourite foods. How will he manage that? In the first lesson link, students will examine sentence length variety.In the second lesson link, students will examine the problem and solution relationstionship in this story and others.

Writing Trait: Sentence Fluency


Writing Trait: Ideas

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato SWBS

Willow wants to be heard, but her tiny voice means that she is often left out. Does Willow find her voice? Read this delightful book to find out what happens. Read Willow’s dialogue in a whisper and have a conversation about the voice trait. Students will fill out a SWBS graphic organizer to determine this story’s problem and solution. This prepares them to write stories that have clear ideas. Writing Trait: Ideas


Willow’s Whispers


Pete is a perfectly predictable pig. So what does a predicatble pig do when an unconventional, creative elephant enters his world? Add this book to your read aloud repertoire. It will not disappoint! This lesson is about writing sentences that are different lengths.  We want our students to know that a mixture of short, medium and long sentences sound great when read aloud. This is a perfect mentor text for that! Writing Traits: Sentence Fluency


Pete and Pickles Sentence fluency


Art’s supplies have a mind of their own and come to life in the studio. This book is full of word play. “2B or not 2B? That is the question.” – asked by pencils of course! This book has a great example of a dialogue lead that not only pulls the reader in, but it also hints at the problem yet to come. In this lesson, students search for other examples of picture books that begin with a lead. They’re hard to find, but worth the effort to model this clever writing skill. Writing Trait: Organization


Highlighting dialogue leads ~ Art’s Supplies 

Kids will connect with the central message of this book and get a little history lesson as well~ were cave children asking the same question? This book offers another great example of a dialogue lead to hook the reader.  During this lesson, students search for other examples of picture books that begin with conversation. They’re hard to find, but worth the effort to model this clever writing skill. A list of books with dialogue leads is included here! Writing Trait: Organization


Dialogue ~ Why Do I Have to Make My Bed


Bear does not like visitors. He even has a sign to prove it. But the little mouse is not so quick to leave. Will bear have a change of heart? In this lesson, dialogue writing is explicitly taught.

Writing Traits: Voice & Conventions      

A Visitor for Bear Dialogue Lesson 

Gr 2 & 3 highlighting dialogue examples from Carol Holland’s class


Get the tissue ready! Milo doesn’t see what’s so special about moms. After all, they are nothing more than brocoli bullies! But when Milo travels to another planet, he might just figure out their worth! In this lesson, dialogue writing is explicitly taught.

Writing Traits: Voice & Conventions

Highlighting dialogue from Mars Needs Moms 

Frog wants to fly, but flying is a bird thing. When frog rescues a baby bird, flying just might become a frog thing too! In the first lesson link, dialogue writing is explicitly taught.In the second link, students will examine the problem and solution framework of this story and others.

Writing Traits: Voice & Conventions

Highlighting dialogue from A Frog Thing

Writing Trait: Ideas

A Frog Thing ~ a simple story framework

All the Dandelions are disappearing quickly, but Christopher Nibble finds one. Will he gobble it up quickly before others find it? This book has a heartwarming theme. Students will examine the problem and solution framework of this story and others. Writing Trait: Ideas


Christopyher Nibble ~ A simple story framework


Missy isn’t keen on books, but with just the right book, Miss Brooks might be able to change that attitude. In this lesson link, character flaws are examined as a way to create a problem for a story.

Writing Trait: Ideas

Miss Brooks Loves Books and I Don’t

You can guess from the title what this book is about. But don’t let the simple title fool you. This is an excellent mentor text. As you can see, there are several lessons posted for this book. That’s because it models all sorts of great literary examples such as: lead, ending, setting description and similes. Read aloud and discuss its merits with your students.

Writing Trait: Word Choice

Twister Word Choice

Twister Similes

Writing Trait: Organization

Twister ~ Lead Sentence

Follow the daily events told from the perspective of a goldfish. When living conditions become too crowded, will this goldfish enjoy his new, quiet surroundings? In this lesson, students write diary entries pretending they are a house pet, farm or zoo animal that is dealing with an environmental issue.

Writing Traits: Voice and Ideas

Memoirs of a Goldfish