Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nonfiction Writing {Turtles}

We started off our turtle unit by reading the poem The Little Turtle and meeting a real live turtle. Then we read a few nonfiction books about turtles and made a Turtle Tree Map of our new learning. I printed and enlarged a blank version of this chart and had the children help me fill in the details.

Then we started our nonfiction writing. Here's my template for the pages included in this book: Turtle Writing Templates. First, the children copied the Turtle Tree Map onto their own chart. We used this map to plan our writing and build sentences.
Then the children started writing their books. They completed about one page each day. As they worked, I conferred with them to help them edit and revise their writing. They each wrote three to four pages for their books. Most of these samples are from ELL and Junior Kindergarten students. I'm so proud of them for how far they've come!

This is from one of my Junior Kindergarten students. She knew more than I did about turtles! When she told me about how turtles lay eggs with alligator eggs, I had to look it up. And what do you know...she's right! I also love how she added an interactive element to her writing: "How fast can you go?" ADORABLE!
Turtles are slow and swim.
Turtles can swim fast. Can you? How fast can you go?
Turtles lay eggs in alligator eggs.

Early in the year, this ELL/Junior K student spoke little English and knew none of her letters or sounds. You can see most of her writing was copied from the Tree Map, but she also tried to sound out some of the words on her own. She also uses the appropriate conventions of print (capitalization, spacing, and punctuation). Yay! 
Turtles are green and brown.
Turtles can lay eggs.
Turtles can swim.
This ELL student was able to sound out unknown words independently. His illustrations also match his text nicely.
Turtles can swim fast.
Turtles can walk slow.
Turtles can lay eggs.
This ELL student also started the year speaking very little English and knowing no letters or sounds. She copied some text, but also tried to sound out many of the words on her own. Wow! 
Turtles are brown and green.
Turtles can lay eggs in the dirt.
Turtles can swim fast.

We used post-it notes to label the body parts of a turtle. Students volunteered to be the "turtle" as we labeled the various parts. Then they completed their Turtle Diagrams to add to their turtle books.

Then we made some cute turtle covers. The idea for this adorable book cover came from my co-worker, Denise. She always has the cutest ideas! Finally, we published and shared our books!

These are some of the books we read...


  1. Thanks for the graphic organizers. Your unit is wonderful.

  2. Excellent ideas! Thanks for posting!

    Lori (
    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  3. Great ideas!!! Are you making a May literacy and math unit? Loved the other units you did! ;)

  4. I used the tree map today! We also did your turtle diagram. thanks, perfect timing. We will write stories tommorrow.
    I will try and post them soon. I would love to have you visit my blog.

  5. Everything you do is awesome! I love the turtle book that the pages go inside. So cute!

  6. Oooh I love your cute turtle ideas! I wanted to let you know that I linked back to your math stations poster from my blog. I love that you made it printable too! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Love your turtle ideas! I love sea turtles!! We are your newest followers, check us out if you get a chance.

  8. Great post! Love the process from poem to map to writing to craft. Smiles, Jayne

  9. I have given you an award! Stop by my blog to check it out!!

  10. Stop by my blog; I nominated you for a couple awards! :o)
    Hangin' with Mrs. Cooper

  11. Thank you for all the amazing things you share! I just discovered your blog a few days ago and I'm really excited about looking around. You're so generous and all your ideas look really useful. I'm looking forward to using some of them next year.

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  13. I came across these ideas at the last minute when looking for more things for our turtle unit! These ideas were awesome! We were also very fortunate to have a VERY large tortoise visit us! Check out my blog post about it. Thank you so much for sharing!

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