Writing Lesson Plan
Because so many of Tomie dePaola's books draw on his own childhood experiences, they make great examples for encouraging young children to write about their own lives. This mini-lesson will help students focus on the events in their everyday lives that they can write about.
"The Art Lesson"
Chart paper and markers
Things I Can Write About
Read the book "The Art Lesson" to the class. When you are finished, ask the children how they think Tomie dePaola came up with the idea for the story. Tell them that like many of his books, this one is based on his life. He really did have twin cousins who went to art school and he did love to draw and take art lessons.
Talk with the children about how when they write stories during writer's workshop, they can be like Tomie dePaola and write about experiences that they have had. Then model how to make a list of things you might write about. Include big events, like your wedding or a special vacation, as well as smaller events like the time your dog got out the front door and you had chase him all over the neighborhood or the day you dropped your bag of groceries in the rain.
Then give each a paper to make his own list. As you walk around, look for children who are having trouble thinking of ideas. Ask them questions to prompt them. What activities do you like to do after school? Who are the important people in your life? What things are you good at?
Once the lists are complete, have the children place them in their writing folders and choose one of the items on the list to write about that day.
Look at the students writing. Are they choosing autobiographical topics to write about? Encourage those who aren't to consider writing about what they know best: themselves.
Revisit the topic of writing autobiographical stories throughout the year, using other books by Tomie dePaola as well those by other writers, like Patricia Polacco.
Using these ideas will make your author study on Tomie dePaola a favorite with your students.