Book Pattern Story Writing

Book Pattern Story Writing

I love five-year-olds for their established core. As Howard Gardner writes in An Unschooled Mind, “Children by the age of five or six have evolved a quite robust and serviceable set of theories, about mind, about matter, about life, about self.”

…and about reading and writing, especially if they have had three essential experiences: (1) during free play they have had for years a message center where they are free to write and mail to others and an adult can scribe their oral creativity, (2) during large group they have been reading and enacting those scribed words, and (3) during small group time they have been writing small group stories and plays.

One of those ways to write stories in small groups is using patterns found in certain books.

importantbrownOne day it snowed in Seattle. We read The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown.

Justin, age five, dictated a story using that pattern. I wrote his words on separate pages as he said them, and then he illustrated it. Usually individual books go home, but Justin’s didn’t for some reason.


On a later day I asked the same group of children what they wanted to write a book about. Miran said, “Fish.” The others agreed that was a good idea. I wrote down the thoughts they had about fish, and the children chose which of those thoughts to illustrate. Group books rotate home to each child and return to school to be placed in the book center.


Another group of five-year-olds had a discussion about their teeth, which I recorded. They chose to illustrate their sentences for another Important Book.




Another successful book pattern for five-year-olds is Ruth Krauss’ Bears, which offers very simple rhymes with one word subject matter, e.g., “Bears on stairs. Bears on chairs.” This is the original version of the book available from

I offered the children a set of animal names that had easy rhymes. They chose the animal, then they generated as long a list as possible of words that rhymed. From that list of rhymes, the children chose a rhyme, put it in a phrase, and illustrated it.


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