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Writer's Workshop: Family Memories - Grade 2

Lesson Objective: Understand how stories are structured through family memories.

Common Core Standard: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.3

Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide a sense of closure.


  • Paper that is half lined, half blank
  • Fold the paper in half into booklets about 6-8 pages long. Staple together.
  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Crayons
  • Markers


Say: Do you remember a time you did something fun with your family? Or how about a time you were playing with your siblings and something super funny happened? Or how about a time you did something Mom or Dad told you not to do, but you did it anyway and got in a little bit of trouble? 

These moments from our lives that we remember are called memories. Memories can be very important to us as we grow up. Remembering good times with our families and friends can help keep us closer. Memories can also keep us from repeating the same mistakes over and over again. But most importantly, memories can help us through hard times. 


Say: Today, we will be talking about memories and stories. Memories and stories are alike in so many ways. Memories require us to remember a certain place, time, and event in our lives—the setting and plot of our personal stories. A good story has characters, a location, and a plot. A plot is what moves the story from its beginning to its middle to its end. 

When we talk about memories, we always choose a place for that story to start. For example, "When I was fifteen, my family took my sister and me to a water park for her birthday." I stated a place in time by mentioning my age and where we were: the waterpark.

Do: Write the beginning of your memory on the board. This memory is an example. You may choose another.

Say: This beginning lets the reader know the "who, what, where, when, and why" of our memory. After we provide this information, we can continue with the story. At this point, describe how you were feeling at that moment. 

Do: Continue writing your memory on the board for the class to see. In this example, we will use:

"I was upset that we were going to the water park for my sister's birthday. On my birthday we didn't get to because it was raining and the park was closed. But I decided to try to be happy for her."

Say: Once we give some background on our memory and share how we were feeling in that moment, we can move onto what we call the conflict of the story. In my story, the conflict is between my sister and me. It is a problem we need to resolve. 

In your memory, there may not be a problem to fix. Maybe something funny happened instead. This is the time to tell that part of your story. These conflicts and funny moments are the "climax," or high points, of our story. These moments are the reasons why the memory sticks in our minds and hearts and the reason we would want to share them with others. 

Do: Write on the board the conflict or climax of your memory. You may again continue with the example below or use another:

"The day went on, and we were having a good time, but when we sat down to lunch, my sister began to pick on me. I was already pretty frustrated that day, and that just annoyed me more. Finally, I got so mad I threw a french-fry at her!"

Say: Now that we have the high point of our story, we need to let our readers know how our story ends. This is called the resolution. A resolution follows the climax of your story and acts as a conclusion. People who were fighting work out their problems, or everyone reacts to a silly moment. 

Do: Again, write the memory of your choice on the board as an example. This is where you should wrap up the memory. Write the entire memory in just a paragraph or two, as the students will be illustrating theirs into a little book. Below is the ending to the example memory.

"Everyone sat stunned for a moment after I chucked a french-fry clear across the table at my sister. But then, all of a sudden, my sister threw one back! In no time at all, it became a full-on food fight right there in the park. We ended up covered in food and laughing so hard our bellies hurt. We had a good day."

Say: Do we all understand how a story should flow? Now that we have put one of our memories into story form together on the board, each of you will be writing down your own stories. 

Do: Hand out the little booklets of paper to each student.

Say: Each of you should have a book in front of you. You are going to write down your memories on the lines provided. Each page should be one part of your story:

  • One page for the introduction
  • One page for the background
  • One page for the climax
  • One page for the ending

On top of each of those pages is a blank space. That is the space that you will draw a picture of what you're describing below. The very first page is going to be the cover of our book. That page will need a title for your story and a picture as well. 

Do: Once everyone has a book and a pencil, allow the students to write their stories. Walk amongst the students and offer help or suggestions where needed. As they finish writing their stories, hand out crayons and other coloring utensils so they can finish illustrations.


Written by Amber White

Education World Contributor

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