Beacon Lesson Plan Library

First Things First

Dianne Parks


After reviewing the trait of voice through teacher directed experiences, students complete a narrative writing (focusing on voice) and an illustration about their earliest memory.


The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).

The student creates a logical organizational pattern appropriate to narrative writing (including a beginning, middle, end).


- Obtain a copy of the book by MacLachlan, Patricia. WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, 1995.
- Drawing paper
- Writing paper
- Pencils
- Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
- Chart paper


1. Obtain a copy of the book titled WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST MacLachlan, Patricia. WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST. New York, Joanna Cotler Books, 1995.
2. Put up one sheet of chart paper.
3. Get markers.
4. Prepare teacher note cards about first memory to refer to when modeling how to give a description to students.


1. Ask students, -What is your first memory?- Discuss with students their earliest memories of where they were born, lived, and grew up. Allow them time to imagine as far back as possible. Some will remember further back than others. It's OK, just help them roll back time to the first moment they can recall.

2. Model what you mean by sharing your first memory. Include in your description pictures in your mind of people, places, sights, sounds, and smells. Use descriptive language to create images.

3. As students talk, remind them that everyone has their own memories. No one will have the same as anyone else, even if they grew up in the same place. In this part of the lesson, the point to emphasize is that the individual experience is what makes a good idea to write and draw about.

4. Allow students time to talk in small groups and discuss as a class moments they remember. The more the students talk, the clearer their memories will become.

5. Next, read a copy of WHAT YOU KNOW FIRST by Patricia MacLachan. (This reading should not take more than about ten minutes.)

6. After the reading, let students talk. Discuss how the author used the writing trait of voice and descriptive language to draw the reader into the memories. Ask students, -Did it make them feel anything? What did they feel?- Record their comments on chart paper.

7. Ask students to tell their favorite parts of the story. See if they can tell you why they are so memorable.

8. Have students write a narrative story about their first memories and create an illustration to go with each. Remind them to use the trait of voice and descriptive language to enhance their writing. Remind students the narrative story must contain a beginning, middle, and end.


Each student will use the trait of voice to write a narrative story using descriptive language to create vivid images about their first memory and create an illustration. A rubric will be used as a formative assessment of the student's learning (see Associated File).

Attached Files

A rubric to be used in a formative assessment.     File Extension: pdf

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