Instructing children how to write their autobiography is a way to develop writing skills as well as an outlet to research their personal and family histories. An exercise in writing an autobiography can give children the opportunity to investigate who they are and where they come from. You can help them put their life story together through photographs and important dates, with the help of parents, so that the children have a variety of materials to choose from.
Write a letter to the parents informing them of your intentions and your lesson plan. Include the reason for the lesson, and ask the parents to choose five to eight important photos to send with their child. They can choose original photos or scan pictures and print them out. Ask them to provide a list of important dates on a separate piece of paper such as memorable trips or celebrations. While the children will already know their birth dates, ask parents to include family members' birthdays and other milestones such as the first day of kindergarten, first time they walked or the first words they spoke and when.
Make an autobiography for yourself. Use it as an example to show your children, and write it so that they can read and understand it. Use language and phrases they understand so that they can mimic the style when they create their own. Make sure you include lots of photos, including baby pictures, as photos will be the main material that they will work with. You can make a small book to pass around or upload your autobiography as a slide presentation to show the class.
Create an outline to help give your students direction. Use the paper that the parents sent with the child, and help them to mark important dates chronologically. Have them mark the dates that came first and make a note where the corresponding pictures will go in relation to the dates. Avoid allowing the children to write down whole sentences, as this will be part of the actual writing process once they begin to write.
Ask starter questions to get the children thinking about what has happened so far in their lives. Ask questions such as, "What happened on this date? Why is it important?", "What is going on in this picture?" and "Why do you like this photo?" Statements such as "This was the day that..." can help students finish sentences and create their own ideas based off of your beginning ideas. These questions and statements help children to focus on themselves and to consider why the events are important to them.
Pass out blank notepads for the children to write on. Instruct them to use their notes from their timeline to create their autobiography. Ask them where the pictures should go and glue them into the book. Make this a sharing experience by allowing the children to stand up and read their autobiographies to the class. When grading, look for accuracy and detail. You should have a full understanding of the child's life up until this point in time. The autobiographies will give them a great read when they are older and are looking back onto their childhood.
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