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What a Pair! A Cross-Grade Writing Activity



  • Arts & Humanities
    Language Arts, Visual Arts
  • Educational Technology


  • Pre-K
  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Older students interview younger students. They use what they learn to write a short storybook that features the youngster as the main character. A special event brings the two groups back together to enjoy the result!


Students will
  • prepare interview questions to determine the likes and dislikes, interests, and dreams of younger students;
  • incorporate what they learn into stories that feature the younger students as the heroes/central characters;
  • create a picture to accompany the story that includes the superimposed face of the young student as the main character in the story;
  • set up a special event at which the student-centered stories will be shared.


story, character, interview, PhotoShop, writing, fiction, bulletin board, photo, cross-grade

Materials Needed

  • writing materials
  • art materials
  • computer with scanner (optional)
  • software for manipulating photos (optional)

Lesson Plan

Students in one grade will pair up with students in another grade to complete this lesson. The lesson works best when older elementary students are paired with students in the primary grades or when high school students are paired with students in middle school or lower.

The teacher of the older students introduces the lesson. Each student is given the name of a younger student with whom he or she will be paired. For the first activity, the older student writes interview questions that will reveal the younger student's interests, likes and dislikes, personality, family, dreams, and so on.

Arrange a time for the older students to meet and interview the younger students and the interviews are conducted.

After the interviews, older students review their question and answer interview sheets. Each student uses the interview information she or he collected to write a story in which the younger student is the main character. Students should include in their stories as much information about the younger children as they can. The younger student might or might not appear in the story as him/herself. Following are a few examples of ways in which students can incorporate students' information into a story:

  • If the younger student is a big baseball fan, in the story he or she might be a pitcher for a major team.
  • If the younger student's favorite book is The Cat In the Hat, the cat might make a special cameo appearance in the story.
  • If the younger student wants to be a doctor, the child in the story might be a doctor who finds a cure for hiccups.
  • If the younger student's favorite food is pizza, the child in the story might win an all-the-pizza-you-can-eat contest.
  • If the younger student's favorite subject is math, the story might include imbedded math problems.
Challenge older students to use their imagination to write fun stories -- or storybooks -- that the younger children will enjoy reading!

When the stories are drafted, edited, redrafted, and polished, the students get together to share their stories. You might even serve punch and cookies to make this a very special event! At the event, each older-younger child pair will have a turn in the spotlight as the older child shares her or his story with the younger child. Each young student will be given a copy of the story that was written just for her or him.

Extension activities:

  • Collect and bind the stories; save copies of the bound books so students can them enjoy again and again.
  • Create a bulletin board to display both the interview and the story so visitors will see how the two lessons are connected.
  • Take photographs of each student pair. Give a copy of the photo to each student. Use the photos on the bulletin board display.
  • Have each of the older students take a photograph of the younger student he or she was paired with. Invite older students to create drawings of the younger students as characters in their stories and superimpose the photographs on the drawings. The computer lab teacher might get involved in this lesson; students could use PhotoShop or another similar software product to create the illustrations.
  • Encourage younger students to write thank-you notes to their partners. In those notes, they could tell about the favorite part of the story that was written about them.
  • Invite students to pair up again for future activities; for example, they could team up for a lesson in which the older students help the younger students write stories of their own.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts

  • GRADES K - 4
    NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
  • GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
  • GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
  • GRADES K - 12
    NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
    NT.K-12.3 Technology Productivity tools

See additional writing lessons in Make the "Write" Impression.

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