Beacon Lesson Plan Library

When I Grow Up

Deirdre Byrne


What a way for children to share what they want to be when they grow up. The students listen to a story and then create a self-portrait of themselves now, and what they will be like in the future. Then they share their ideas with the rest of the class.


The student contributes ideas during a shared writing activity.

The student dictates and writes with pictures or words to record ideas and reflections.

The student uses basic computer skills for writing (including but not limited to using a mouse, locating numbers/letters on keyboard, turning computer on/off, and locating and opening application icon).


-Book: Mayer, Mercer. [All By Myself]. Racine: Western Publishers, 1983.
-6” White paper plates, two per child
-Various colors of construction paper, wallpaper scraps, felt pieces
-Yellow, brown, black and red yarn
-Wiggle eyes
-Chart paper
-Access to computers and printers, one per student
-Photographs or posters of community helpers like police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse and dentist


1. Read the story [All By Myself] with the students before doing this lesson.
2.Collect all of the art materials listed above ahead of time, and set them out for students.
3. Take pictures or purchase posters of community helpers ahead of time.
4. Prepare a teacher-made self-portrait and writing sample ahead of time for students to see.
5. Arrange for a fifth-grade class to come into the classroom for the two lessons.


1. Review the story [All By Myself] read earlier. Lead a discussion of the types of jobs that are available to us. List student responses on a chart. Encourage students by asking them what their parents' occupations are.

2. Once a list is generated, the teacher models how to write two to three sentences. One describes a child now, “This is me now.” The other says, “This is me all grown up. I am a _____________________.”

3. While writing the sentence, the teacher models capitalization, punctuation and spacing between the words.

4. The teacher then models an illustration that matches the written sentences.

5. Explain to students that they will be working with a fifth-grade “buddy” to create their self-portraits using the paper plates and other art materials, and to do the written portion of the project. The fifth graders can assist students who are not at the writing stage by writing the younger students' dictations. The teacher models how to take a dictation by having a volunteer come in front of the class to dictate a sentence about what he/she would like to be when they grow up. The teacher writes the student's response on the board. All other students can do their writing with assistance from the fifth-grade buddies.

6. Pair each student with a fifth-grade buddy and have two or three pairs collect their materials and find a place to work in the room.

7. Circulate as students are working and provide formative assessment ensuring that students are dictating or writing appropriately with their buddy. Also, encourage students to use the materials that match their hair, eye color and color of clothing so that their picture matches themselves closely. Encourage students to use an alphabet strip to locate letters and sounds as they work on the written portion of the activity.

8. Once all self-portraits and writings are done, set the self-portraits aside to dry and have the class clean up. Collect the writing samples to be used in Day 2 of this lesson.

1. Explain to the group that today the fifth-grade buddies are going to help the younger students type their written responses on the computer using the keyboard, mouse and printer.

2. The teacher models the location of the space bar, return, mouse, letter and number keys on the keyboard before sending students to the computer.

3. Hand out the written portion of yesterday's project to each pair of students. Send each pair to the computer to begin typing. Remind the fifth graders to assist the younger students by helping them find letters and numbers on the keyboard. As students are working, monitor them closely providing formative feedback that ensures they can locate the mouse, return key, letters, numbers and space bar as they type on the computer. Once finished, they may print their writings and attach their sentences to their self-portraits that were made yesterday.

4. Give each student the opportunity to share their work with the class. Hang students' projects up for display after they have all shared their work.


During discussion, each student should contribute at least one idea, as the list is made up on the chart. The teacher assists students who have difficulty coming up with key words to describe a community helper. The students should be able to locate the mouse, return key, letters, numbers and space bar as they type on the computer. The teacher uses each student’s self-portrait and writing/dictation to check for understanding of the concepts of dictation and writing. Students showing mastery will be able to write/draw/dictate and describe themselves as a community helper that they would like to be.


1. To accommodate ESOL/ESL or ESE students the teacher, along with the fifth-grade buddies, can do the dictation for these students.
2. Pictures of community helpers labeled in the language spoken could be helpful for ESOL/ESL students as well.
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