Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Growing a Literature Tree

Nancy Adams
Orange County Schools


This is one in a series of lessons on distinguishing features of literature. The students use prior knowledge of fairy tales and fables to create a literature tree map. They categorize literature as fiction or nonfiction and use bubble maps to show features.


The student understands the distinguishing features of literary texts (for example, fiction, drama, poetry, fairy tales, fables, fantasy, biography).


-Individual copies of Bubble Maps (created in a large group) showing distinguishing features of fairy tales and fables (See Samples in Associated File)
-Picture/poster of tree showing main trunk, branches and smaller branches
-Overhead transparency of a blank tree map for school setting (See Preparations, #2)
-Overhead transparency and student copies (one for each student) of a blank Literature Tree map (See Associated File)
-Overhead markers (at least 4 colors)


1. Prepare small copies of Bubble Maps (created previously as a class) of distinguishing features of fairy tales and fables. (See Associated File)
2. Draw tree map template for parts of school on transparency (or chart paper).
3. Duplicate small copies of Bubble Maps and a blank Literature Tree map (See Associated File) for each student.
4. Prepare an overhead transparency of the blank Literature Tree map.
5. Make sure overhead projector works or make transparencies on chart paper.


1. Tell students they are going to grow a tree.

2. Display picture of tree. Students describe tree and parts, eliciting trunk, with branches and smaller branches growing from large branches.

3. Introduce tree maps as way of categorizing information that has a trunk and branches.

4. Create a tree map of the school, grades, and teachers in each grade on the overhead to demonstrate/practice filling in the map.

5. Display and hand out to each student copies of Bubble Maps created in prior lessons with distinguishing features of fairy tales and fables. (See Associated File for Samples)

6. Explain that they will use this information to “grow” their own tree with features of literature genres.

7. Display a blank Literature Tree map on overhead and hand out individual Literature Tree maps. (See Associated File)

8. Begin filling in tree together, discussing two main types of literature, fiction and nonfiction. Fill these in the two main branches and elicit responses reviewing their features. (A Sample Literature Tree, with labels filled in, is provided in the Associated File.)

9. Students individually decide where fairy tales and fables are placed on the tree, either with fiction or nonfiction.

10. Students use their Bubble Maps to fill in the smaller branches of distinguishing features for each. They must include at least three features of each genre.

11. Teacher conferences with each student giving formative feedback, ascertains if the tree is correct and complete, and has the student correct any errors.

12. Literature Tree is placed in Reading/Writing folder in the reference section.


Each student creates a tree map of distinguishing features of the literature forms of fiction and nonfiction, with fiction and nonfiction on the primary branches. Fairy tales and fables should be placed in two of the branches under fiction. Fairy tales and fables should each have at least three distinguishing features listed under them. (See Sample Literature Tree in Associated File) The teacher discusses the tree map with students individually or in small groups to provide feedback. The student corrects any errors.


1. ESOL/ESE students can create literature trees in small groups.
2. Use chart paper instead of transparencies if there is no overhead projector.
3. Continue tree map as various genre are studied.
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