Lesson plan

Experience Explanations

When your students make connections to their personal lives, their writing will flourish! Use this lesson plan as a springboard to helping students plan and develop their own personal narratives.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
  • Students will be able to plan for a personal narrative.
  • Students will be able to plan individual details of a narrative.
(5 minutes)
Something DifficultSo Surprised!Elaborating on Feelings
  • Display the photograph or picture so that all students can see it.
  • Invite the students to participate in finding as many details as possible in the picture.
  • Tell the students that they will be learning how to include details in a narrative essay that represents a real personal experience.
(15 minutes)
  • Read the story Owl MoonOr another trade book of choice.
  • Demonstrate the process of writing the sequence of events in the story (including the beginning, middle, and end) on a piece of chart paper.
  • Write down examples of important details in the plot on the piece of chart paper or oversized sticky notes.
(20 minutes)
  • Tell the students that they will be working in groups to create part of a story, which will be used to create a class story.
  • Explain that the topic of the story is the events and experiences of the first day of school.
  • Divide students into groups and distribute white paper or oversized sticky notes to each group.
  • Assign each group a block of the day and ask the students to create both a visual and a sequence of events for that assigned block for the first day of school.
  • After all groups are finished, invite each group to share their part of the writing and post it on the board.
  • Invite classmates to give feedback on details that can be added to the story.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell the students that their task is to now plan a narrative about something that was once difficult for them. This could be something new that they learned (such as learning how to ski) or a challenging time in their life.
  • Distribute the worksheet Something Difficult and invite students to plan their writing on that graphic organizer.
  • Circulate around the room and prompt students as needed.


  • If students need extra practise adding details, give them practise thinking of what details might be relevant to certain feelings. Ask the students to complete the worksheet Elaborating on Feelings.


  • If students master the planning of a realistic story, teach them to use quotation marks to represent the speech of individuals in the story.
  • Use Toon Doo or other comic websites to have students illustrate the components of their personal narratives (either before or after writing).
(10 minutes)
  • Ask the students to plan a narrative about a time that they were surprised, writing their plan on the worksheet So Surprised!
(5 minutes)
  • Pair up students into partners and invite them to share their story ideas with one another, giving each other feedback.
  • Lead the class in a brief discussion on what makes a great personal narrative.

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