How to Write a Children's Book Lesson Plan

How to Write a Children’s Book Lesson Plan

Who needs to learn how to write a children’s book lesson plan? Not only teachers but children’s book authors as well! It isn’t just about reading a story aloud; it’s about immersing young minds in the world of literature and sparking their love for reading.

The challenge in writing a lesson plan is to be creative, yet structured, educational, yet entertaining. This article will help you through this challenge. It will guide you on how to write a children’s book lesson plan that keeps kids hooked from start to finish. We will explore the essential elements and characteristics of a well-structured lesson plan tailored to connect your book with your readers, and you’ll discover the secrets to making engaging lesson plans that resonate with elementary children and planning engaging learning activities that make the lesson plan come alive. We’ll also discuss the importance of incorporating interactive elements and promoting critical thinking skills. Lastly, we’ll explore resources and tools that can help you out on this assignment.

Let’s get started on learning how to write a children’s book lesson plan!

This article will cover:

  • How to write a children’s book lesson plan: Why is it important for authors?
  • What core elements should I include in an instructional children’s book lesson plan?
    • Learning objectives
    • Introduction
    • Read-aloud session
    • Vocabulary building
    • Background knowledge
    • Activities
    • Critical thinking discussion
    • Assessment
    • Lesson plan conclusion
  • What are tips on how to make an informational lesson plan engaging for young readers?
  • What resources and tools can I use for incorporating children’s books into lesson plans?
  • Summing up how to write a children’s book lesson plan

How to Write a Children’s Book Lesson Plan: Why Is It Important For Authors?

You know now that learning how to write a children’s book lesson plan is important for children’s book authors. This assignment is important for several reasons, and here they are:

First, creating a lesson plan for a children’s book makes it more likely that schools will invite the author for visits and use their book in classrooms and other instructional settings. Teachers find it helpful because the plan makes it easier to teach important ideas from the book, illustrating the important concepts while also entertaining the elementary students.

When authors add questions, discussions, and activities related to their books, they strengthen the themes and topics in the story. This approach turns the book into a learning tool, giving teachers creative ways to engage students. This helps authors make the story more memorable and the lessons easier to understand.

Secondly, authors can sell their lesson plans. Schools and teachers are always looking for excellent resources that fit their teaching goals. Well-made children’s book lesson plans can be very popular and in high demand. Positioned as a supplemental product, these lesson plans can become a steady source of income, especially if the book becomes popular in schools. Besides selling to individual teachers, authors may also strike deals with educational publishers or school districts, leading to bulk purchases that can greatly increase their earnings.

Moreover, through selling lesson plans, authors strengthen their reputation as educational contributors. This reputation can open doors to more opportunities, such as speaking at events, reading books in more schools, and partnering with educational organisations. It enhances their brand as an author who not only tells stories but also supports literacy and education.

Lastly, connecting with the educational community by making and sharing lesson plans builds a supportive circle around the author. This community includes educators, librarians, parents, and educational content creators, all of whom care about enhancing elementary children’s learning experiences.

As authors contribute to this system, they earn respect and loyalty. This can lead to more people talking about their books, higher attendance at book-related events, and more book sales overall. By being seen as a helpful resource, authors can establish themselves in both the literary and educational fields, adding to their professional development and leaving a lasting impact.

What core elements should I include in an instructional children’s book lesson plan?

Including common core elements in your children’s book lesson plan can ensure a well-rounded, enjoyable, and interactive learning experience for the students.

A good lesson plan for a children’s book needs to balance engagement, interaction, and learning. Let’s look at an example using the lesson plan for Aroha’s Way by Craig Phillips from Teaching with Picture Books. This example is a social studies lesson plan, but yours may be different. Here are the common core elements it should have:

Learning objectives

Your first assignment is to define the learning objectives of the lesson plan. These objectives show what you hope the children will achieve by the end. Clear objectives help you see how well the elementary kids are doing and let you change the plan if needed. What skills or knowledge do you want the kids to gain? Do you want them to understand story elements, create their own characters, or get better at writing or punctuation? Whatever you pick, the learning objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Think about how old the kids are and what they already know. Are you teaching kindergartners who are just starting to learn about stories or older kids who have some reading and writing experience? Make sure your objectives match the kids’ ages and abilities.

Here are a few examples of learning objectives for a children’s book lesson plan:

  1. Students will understand the basic elements of a story, including characters, setting, and plot.
  2. Students will develop their own unique characters and describe them using descriptive language.
  3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of story structure by creating a beginning, middle, and end for their own stories.
  4. Students will practice writing dialogue by creating conversations between their characters.
  5. Students will revise and edit their stories to improve clarity and coherence.
  6. Students will present their finished stories to the class, showcasing their creativity and storytelling skills.
  7. Students will practice their comprehension and writing skills by, for instance, summarizing your story.
Over shoulder view of female children’s book author showing a picture book to a group of kindergarten children sitting on chairs in a classroom, close up

Introduction

Start the lesson plan with something interesting that grabs the kids’ attention and gets them ready to learn. You could tell a short story, show a video, or ask a question that’s related to the topic of your children’s book.

If you decide to include a short story, keep it simple. This story could be a prelude to the main book or provide context that helps understand the book’s themes later on. Think about the characteristics of your children’s book and a story that mirrors the problem or main character in your book but leaves room for questions. For example, if your book is about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, you might start with a story about a small seed growing into a beautiful flower. This not only grabs attention but also gets kids thinking about comparing and analysing, important skills in learning. For Aroha’s Way, you could start with a story about feeling sad recently. You could talk about not wanting to get out of bed, and then explain how you managed your feelings and got through the day.

Another way to start the lesson is by showing a video clip illustrating a concept from your book. This is great because kids learn in different ways, and videos are good for those who like to see and hear things. A good video can get them interested in the lesson and connect them to the book’s pictures, ideas, or characters. For example, if the book is about space, you could show a captivating video of astronauts in space. Just make sure the video is right for their age, not too long to lose their interest, but interesting enough to get them talking or asking questions.

If you need help with creating videos, you may contact a reliable animated video company such as Impact Animated Videos.

Lastly, consider kick-starting the lesson with a discussion prompt. Ask a question that gets kids thinking about the main idea of the book. It’s important to ask questions that don’t just have one answer, so kids can share their own thoughts. For example, if the book is about courage, you could ask, “What do you think it means to be brave?” This gets kids thinking about the book and how it relates to their own lives. Allow a few moments for kids to look at the cover and title of Aroha’s Way. For younger children, introduce your discussion prompt: “What do you see? What do you think the book will be about?”

Remember, the introduction is the doorway through which the children will walk through to enter the world of your lesson. Make it inviting and exciting! Your creativity at this stage makes learning fun and sets the stage for an interactive lesson. This gets kids excited to hear or read the book and stay interested as they explore it further.

Read-aloud session

After the introduction, your book can be read aloud. For longer chapter books or MG novels, read for about 15 to 20 minutes. Reading aloud can transport listeners to different worlds, whether real or imagined—from the classroom to the far-flung corners of the Earth, like in our example, to New Zealand. Every book contains a variety of voices, and through reading aloud, these voices come to life with distinct personalities. The way a reader adjusts their tone can add drama and suspense to the story, keeping listeners captivated throughout.

Elementary Pupil Wearing Uniform Raises Hand To Answer Question As Female Children’s Book Writer Reads Picture Book

Vocabulary building

Your next assignment is to add exercises that help students learn new words. Aroha’s Way is a book about handling tough emotions. It’s a good way to introduce words that are covered in the book and are related to feelings, like alone, fear, feel, frightened, frozen, heart, stuck, and troubled. The Teaching with Picture Books lesson plan includes an activity where children will complete a word search using vocabulary from the story. Some of the words in the book that are covered are: breathe, deep, hug, share, smile, butterflies, dance, jumps, listen, and play.

Aroha’s Way word search activity

Background knowledge

Provide the necessary background knowledge and context for the children to understand the topic at hand. This could involve discussing elements of storytelling, introducing key literary terms, key concepts from social studies, or exploring examples of well-known children’s books.

Understanding the building blocks of storytelling can enhance a child’s appreciation of the book being studied. Explore the following key story elements with the class:

  • Characters: Introduce the main and supporting characters. Discuss their traits and how they contribute to the story. The main character in our example is Aroha. She is happy and confident, but not all the time.
  • Setting: Describe where and when the story takes place, which helps in creating the world within the child’s mind. The setting of Aroha’s Way is on the beautiful shoreline of New Zealand.
  • Plot: Outline the sequence of events, conflicts, and the general storyline.
  • Conflict: Identify the central issue or challenge faced by the characters. Aroha struggles with hard feelings sometimes.
  • Resolution: Discuss how the characters resolve the conflict or what the conclusion of the story is. Aroha takes deep breaths to calm her fear. She exercises to reduce her anxiety. She stays mindful and focuses on nature to manage her worries. When she feels stuck, she talks to someone she trusts.

Introduce key literary terms. Terms such as genre, theme, narrative perspective, and tone could be discussed in age-appropriate language. An example could be comparing the narrative perspective in first-person books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid to third-person stories like Aroha’s Way.

Explore other examples from children’s literature that are similar to yours to form strong connections in a child’s learning process. This can help kids learn about literary terms and how stories are told. For example, if you wrote a rhyming book, compare it with the repetitive and predictable text in Dr. Seuss’ books to illustrate rhyme and rhythm in poetry. If you wrote an adventure series, you may highlight its similarities to how Enid Blyton showed the use of suspense and plot twists in storytelling in The Famous Five series. If your book is a retelling of Red Riding Hood, compare it with the version told by the Brothers Grimm. It can help highlight how culture affects stories and why some ideas stay important even when the details differ.

Calm smiling children’s book writer sitting with young kids on the floor in a classroom and listening to them

Activities

Design a variety of activities that make the story stick for children. These activities could include brainstorming sessions, writing exercises, summarizing your plot, comparing characteristics of your main character with another character, role-play, or creative projects and crafts. Be sure to incorporate both individual and collaborative activities to cater to different learning styles.

Brainstorming helps kids get creative and share ideas without feeling judged. It’s about breaking out of the usual way of thinking and being open to all sorts of ideas. When done right, brainstorming can lead to out-of-the-box ideas, make teams closer, and help find innovative solutions to problems. The trick is to make everyone feel comfortable sharing even their craziest ideas in a space where anything goes.

How to implement brainstorming:

  • Start with an open-ended question related to the narrative.
  • Allow children to share ideas freely without fear of judgement.
  • Capture thoughts on a whiteboard or flip chart to visually map the flow of ideas.

Writing exercise preparation can help kids understand things better and also improve their writing skills. Encouraging children to write their own versions of the story or even come up with a different ending allows them to engage in creative expression, deepen their comprehension of narrative structure, and grow their appreciation for literature.

Examples of Writing Exercises:

  • Compose a diary entry from the point of view of the book character Aroha.
  • Write a letter to Aroha asking questions.
  • Create a storyboard for an additional chapter or spread of the book.

Role-play is a dynamic and interactive method that enables children to live the story, so to speak. By pretending to be different characters, they can explore all sorts of feelings and situations in a safe, make-believe world. This activity is great for English class os social studies, and sparks empathy and makes the lessons they learn from stories stick better.

How to organise role-play activities:

  • Prepare and distribute scripts or scenarios reflecting story content.
  • Create a safe space for performance, free of ridicule.
  • Encourage feedback to reinforce insights and learnings post-performance.
Happy kids playing with puppets at elementary school

Adding a tactile dimension through creative projects and crafts allows children with a penchant for hands-on activities to shine. These projects can range from simple to complex and can be tailored to the children’s age and skill level. Combining storytelling with cool crafts lets kids truly grasp the story’s concept. It’s like translating literature into something they can hold. For example, after reading a story about marine life, children might create their own sea creatures out of modelling clay or recycled materials. This hands-on project helps solidify their comprehension of the story and extends their learning beyond just listening and reading.

Align projects with the children’s age and skill level to ensure that they are appropriately challenged:

  • For younger children (ages 3-5), simple crafts that involve less precision are ideal. They can engage in activities such as finger painting, collage making with large, pre-cut shapes, or constructing simple objects with building blocks. These activities encourage them to explore textures and colours and help in developing their fine motor skills.
  • For children aged 6-8, more complex tasks requiring increased coordination can be introduced. They could assemble a puzzle that correlates with the theme of the book or craft a bookmark representing Aroha or a scene from the story.

They can also pick an uncomfortable emotion, like fear, worry, anger, feeling inadequate, stuck, or sad. Ask them to write or draw how this emotion feels in their body, such as a sick stomach, headache, sweaty hands, difficulty talking, fast heartbeat, or trouble thinking.

Projects that challenge them to dig deeper or take on a longer-term project can be even more rewarding for older children (ages 9-12). Examples include building a mini-world (diorama) to capture a key scene from the book or sewing costumes to bring the characters to life. They could even write and perform a short play based on the story.

It is also important to remember that every child has a unique learning style:

  • Kinesthetic learners will benefit most from activities that require movement and manipulation, such as building, assembling, or physically acting out stories.
  • Visual learners might find it helpful to draw or visualise story elements, allowing them to create storyboards or eye-catching art pieces related to the reading material.
  • Auditory learners could be encouraged to engage in crafts that have an auditory component, such as creating and using musical instruments to accompany a read-aloud session.

Critical thinking discussion

Group critical thinking discussions help kids learn from each other. Talking with others can enhance critical thinking because they hear different ideas. These talks are organised but also flexible, helping kids understand the topic by sharing their thoughts together. Remember: preparation of thought-provoking questions is essential to connect the story to real experiences.

How to conduct critical thinking discussions:

  • Divide the children into small discussion groups.
  • Encourage respectful listening and turn-taking amongst participants.

You may assign specific story elements (themes, characters, setting, plot, and conflict) to each group for focused insights. See the sample questions below for each story element:

Group 1: Character Analysis

  • How did Aroha evolve throughout the story?
  • What is her motivation and how does this motivation influence her actions?
  • How do the interactions between characters drive the narrative forward?

Group 2: Theme Exploration

  • What are the primary themes explored in the narrative?
  • How are these themes reflected in the actions of characters and the progress of the plot?
  • Are the themes timely or timeless, universal or specific to a certain culture or society?
  • What are the symbols and imagery used to reinforce the themes throughout the story?

Group 3: Setting and Atmosphere

  • How do the time period and geographic location (New Zealand) affect Aroha’s character and plot?
  • What mood is created by the setting, and how does it enhance the reader’s experience?
  • How do descriptions of the environment reflect the internal states of characters or the themes of the book?

Group 4: Plot Dissection

  • What is the narrative arc, and how are tension and resolution managed?
  • How does the author employ devices such as foreshadowing or flashbacks?
  • Are there any plot twists, and how do they affect the reader’s understanding of the narrative?

Additional characterization discussion questions for Aroha’s Way may include:

  • “When you had uncomfortable feelings, did you do anything to feel better? What did you do?”
  • “Can you remember how Aroha handled her uncomfortable feelings? Do you think these are good ideas? Why or why not?”

These questions help kids think about their own strengths and how they solve problems, making them connect with the book’s characterization. To help them understand others’ feelings and experiences better, show them different points of view. You could ask, “How do you think [character’s name] felt when [event] happened? Have you ever felt the same way?” An interactive discussion about a book is a great way for kids to practice sharing their thoughts and feelings. When they articulate their ideas, they’re developing critical oral communication skills. To encourage this growth, you can ask open-ended questions that need more than a yes or no response, such as:

  • What would you have done if you were in Aroha’s place?
  • “Why do you think [character’s name] decided to [action in the book]?”
Rear view of school kids sitting on big coloured cushions raising hands to answer a question asked by the children’s book author in front of them against a bookshelf in the background

Assessment

Include assessment or evaluation methods to measure the children’s comprehension, retention, and progress. Assessment techniques provide valuable feedback for the author, teacher, and students, identifying where they need to get better and what they’ve done well. Here are some methods that hit the mark:

  • Interactive Quizzes: Blend learning checks with fun to lower stress and keep spirits high.
  • Reflective Writing: Encourage introspection on the lesson through personal writing.
  • Creative Projects and Presentations: Give an assignment for presentations and projects that allow children to use their hands and hearts.
  • Ask children to write and/or draw their response to Aroha’s story. They can draw or write about their favourite part or write about something they learnt from the story.

Suggestions for the Writing Exercise:

  • A question like “What did Aroha do that made you smile?” can provoke a specific response that shows understanding.
  • Offer structured questions, but also leave room for open-ended responses to encourage imagination and personalised storytelling.
  • Choose words from the word search activity discussed above. Ask children to use these words in their writing. This enhances their vocabulary and helps those who might struggle with spelling or recalling specific terms from the story.

Suggestions for the Drawing Exercise:

  • Provide a range of art materials—from crayons to watercolours. This diversity caters to varied artistic expressions and allows children to explore different mediums.
  • Showcase their artwork in the classroom. This can boost their confidence and create a sense of ownership over their unique interpretations.
  • Discuss the artworks in class. This encourages the children to articulate their thoughts and reasoning behind their drawings.
Portrait of a small Asian girl sitting at a table in a classroom at primary school or kindergarten, drawing in a notebook with colourful pencils.

For an integrated experience, you can mix writing and drawing in the assessment. Ask children to create a comic strip that shows their favourite moment in the book or imagines a different scenario. This helps them use both their writing and artistic skills and gives a better idea of how engaged they are with the story.

Lesson plan conclusion

Wrap up the lesson plan with a meaningful conclusion that reinforces the important points and encourages further exploration. This could involve a reflection activity or a group sharing session. A reflection activity can be a quiet, individual moment where children consider what they have learned. The class can try some strategies Aroha uses. Take them outside and have them close their eyes to focus on their senses and the natural environment. Ask them what they can hear, smell, and feel. Then, with their eyes open, guide them to focus on a tree, cloud, or plant.

Prompt them with questions that guide their thoughts, such as:

  • “What was the most surprising thing you discovered today?”
  • “How does the story relate to your own experiences?”
  • “What would you tell a friend about this lesson?”

Children often learn best in social settings where they can share ideas and listen to different perspectives. This helps them improve their speaking and listening skills. Organise a group sharing session where they can discuss:

  • Key plot points from the story
  • Their favourite characters and why they stand out
  • Moral or educational elements from the book
Kindergarten students sitting on the floor listening to story telling

What are tips on how to make an informational lesson plan engaging for young readers?

Engagement is key to effective teaching, especially with young readers. By including hands-on and interactive activities, you can help children develop their creativity, critical thinking skills, and writing abilities. Here’s how to captivate them:

  1. Engage children in character development exercises where they can create unique and interesting characters for their stories. Encourage them to think about their characters’ appearance, personality traits, and motivations. Provide templates or worksheets to guide them through the process.
  2. Guide children in mapping out the plot of their stories. Using your book, help them identify the beginning, middle, and end, and encourage them to think about the conflict, resolution, and character growth. Provide a graphic organizer or storyboard to visualise the plot structure.
  3. Teach children the art of writing dialogue by providing examples from your book and guiding them through exercises. Encourage them to think about how their characters would speak and interact with one another. Role-playing activities can be incorporated to bring the dialogue to life.
  4. Teach children the importance of revising and editing their work. Provide guidelines on how to improve clarity, coherence, and grammar. Encourage peer editing and self-reflection to promote critical thinking and self-improvement.
  5. Incorporate activities where children can illustrate their stories and design their own book covers. This enhances their creativity and provides a visual representation of their work.
  6. Integrate multimedia such as videos and music.
  7. Mix up the pacing of the lesson to hold attention and keep energy up.

What resources and tools can I use for incorporating children’s books into lesson plans?

Besides your children’s book, there are numerous resources and tools available to enhance your lesson plan. Among them are:

Online platforms: Utilise online platforms that offer resources and activities specifically designed for using children’s books in lesson plans. Persnickety Press and Lee and Low Books have a wealth of lesson plans based on their own published children’s books. You can also download a free study guide template by Tiffany Turner that covers the theme, characters, setting, plot points, and discussion questions for your book. Other websites such as Lesson Planet, Scholastic Teachables, and ReadWriteThink’s The Children’s Picture Book Project provide children’s book lesson plans, worksheets, and interactive tools. Remember that for some of these sites, you must write “children’s book” in the search bar.

Writing prompts: Use writing prompts to stimulate children’s creativity and provide them with starting points for their stories. Writing prompt generators and websites such as Story Writing Academy Writing Prompt Generator for Kids, Capitalize My Title Kids Short Story Prompt Generator, TeachStarter Random Story Starters Generator, thinkwritten, and Scholastic offer a wide selection of prompts suitable for different age groups.

Graphic organizers: Use a graphic organizer to help children organise their thoughts and develop their stories. Graphic organizers such as story maps, character profiles, and plot diagrams can be found online. For example, ReadWriteThink allows you to choose among character, conflict, resolution, and setting maps. Graphic organizers can also be created using software such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.

Writing workshops and author visits in classrooms: These experiences provide valuable insights and inspiration for the children, allowing them to interact with professionals in the field of children’s book writing. With a writing workshop, start by reading your children’s book aloud to analyse its strengths and inspire young writers. Then, through both group activities and individual tasks, children can start crafting their own stories, with guidance on structuring and refining their narratives.

During author visits, read excerpts from your book, share insights about your journey as a writer, and discuss the processes involved in generating ideas and turning them into books. This is especially inspiring because it makes the writing and publishing process feel achievable for the students. Additionally, hearing about authors’ challenges and how they overcame them can be very empowering.

Many author visits also feature interactive elements such as illustration demonstrations (if the author is also an illustrator) or collaborative storytelling, where children contribute to a story started by the author during the session. These activities not only immerse students in the creative process, but also showcase the joy and excitement of writing.

You can join The Author Village, The Booking Biz, the Society of Authors or the Book Trust for help with booking virtual or in-person author school visits.

Online writing communities and writing camps: Encourage children to join online writing communities or writing camps where they can share their work and receive feedback from peers and experienced writers. Websites such as Spark Young Writers and Storymakers and writing camps such as Kids Can Write (online) and Thurber House (in-person) offer safe and supportive platforms for young writers to connect and learn from one another.

School kids sitting on the floor gathered around children’s book author

Summing up how to write a children’s book lesson plan

When you understand how to write a children’s book lesson plan, it becomes more than just trying to create something instructional to support your book or make extra sales. It blossoms into an exciting opportunity to encourage creativity, imagination, and a love of literature among young readers, as well as for your own professional development as an author.

Set clear learning objectives and focus on engaging elements such as characterization, plot construction, vocabulary building, and interactive activities to create lesson plans that are both enjoyable and instructive. These plans reinforce key themes and lessons from the book and encourage critical thinking and a personal connection to the story.

Make use of resources and tools like online platforms, writing prompts, and graphic organizers to improve the learning experience and offer more chances for exploration and growth. Also, integrate multimedia resources, author visits, and a variety of activities to accommodate different learning styles, making the experience more inclusive and impactful.

Ultimately, the goal of a children’s book lesson plan is to encourage children to develop a lifelong love for literature, ignite their creativity, and express their unique voices through storytelling and writing. With a well-crafted lesson plan, you can set them on a path of discovery and imagination that will stay with them for years to come.

Begin today by creating your children’s book lesson plan and share your progress with us. Join our community of children’s book authors by sharing your experiences, successes, challenges, and thoughts about the questions in the comments below.

  1. Which children’s book has had the most significant impact on you, and how would you design a lesson plan around it?
  2. How do you feel about the use of multimedia (videos, music, etc.) in lesson plans? Do you think they enhance or distract from the learning experience?
  3. Among the interactive activities we tackled in the article, do you have any favourite examples?

Let’s work together to inspire the next generation of readers and writers!

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