Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Whooo's in the Nest?

Elisabeth Coogle


During a weeklong writing workshop, students illustrate a family of owls and write about their owl family. Students draft a five sentence expository writing essay, revise in peer editing groups, and publish their work.


The student knows that living things have offspring that resemble their parents.

The student makes a plan before writing the first draft (for example, drawing pictures, using graphic organizers).

The student uses strategies to support ideas in writing (including but not limited to using several sentences to elaborate upon an idea; using specific word choice and relevant details such as reasons or examples).

The student revises writing to improve supporting details and word choice by adding or substituting text.

The student uses references to edit writing (for example, word lists, dictionaries, charts).

The student uses strategies to `finish` a piece of writing (for example, incorporating illustrations, photos, charts, and graphs; preparing a final copy).

The student uses basic word processing skills and basic educational software for writing (including but not limited to proofreading, using appropriate fonts and graphics, using technology to 'publish' writing).


-OWL BABIES by Martin Waddell, October 1992, 32 pages. ISBN: 1564021017 You can also view or order this book at:
-Pictures of animal families
-Student word processor
-2 sheet of drawing paper per student
-1 red pen per four students for use during editing
-1 dictionary per four students
-1 thesaurus per four students
-Writing paper
-Crayons or Markers


1. Visit a library for books about owls. You will also need the book OWL BABIES by Martin Waddell, 1996.
2. Gather other materials. (See materials list.)
3. Monitor students during drafting to decide how to divide students into editing groups on Thursday. There should be a strong speller and writer in each group.


Monday- Prewriting
1. During a life science unit or a unit on families, gather students around for a reading of OWL BABIES. Discuss the difference in appearance of the baby birds from their parents. Explain that when the birds become adults they will resemble their parents. Lead the children to explore other animals that look different as babies. Point out the fact that resembling a parent does not have to mean identical.
2. Explain that students will draw a nest with three baby owls and a mother owl. Pass out drawing paper to students. Allow students time to draw a nest of owls.

Tuesday- Drafting
1. Display the book OWL BABIES. Tell students that after you write an example essay, they will write their own five-sentence essay about their picture. Students should sit silently while you write on the chalkboard or overhead:

Three adorable owl babies wait for their mother. The first owl looks at me. The second owl gives a sigh. The third owl wants to cry. Maybe their mother will come back soon.

2. Allow students time to write. Encourage students to use the teacher writing as a model. Point out the main idea sentence and the transition words used in each detail sentence. Show how a sentence at the end wraps the story up. Students should describe their first owl, then their second owl, and finally their third owl.

1. Students continue to work on their owl baby stories. Encourage students to look for the words first, second, and third in their writing. Ask students to check for a beginning sentence and a sentence that wraps everything up.

1. Divide students into groups of four. You will need to give each student a number 1 through 4. Explain that each student will have 5 minutes to read their essay and ask for suggestions. Group members offer advice to the author. Distribute dictionaries, thesauruses, and red correcting pens to each group. Group members give suggestions to the author. Only the author may write the changes on his or her papers using the red correcting pen.
2. Tell partner 1 to begin reading in each group. Give a one-minute warning after four minutes. Call switch to partner two after five minutes. Repeat.
3. Gather students together in the story area. Invite volunteers to share ways they changed their stories. You may not have time to allow all children to share. Make sure to call on those students who you observed make positive changes.

Friday Ė Publishing
1. Students type their stories into a word processor and print. Remind students that library books are written by an author and then sent to a publisher. During the week they have all been authors. Today they get to be publishers. Some students may even enjoy including a copyright.
2. Stories are glued to the bottom of their owl baby pictures.
3. Display student's work.


Students should receive at least a 4 on the writing rubric. See extension activity for remediation. Rubric is attached.

Create a science learning center activity for the following week. Place magazines, drawing paper, scissors, and glue at the center. Students cut out animal pictures. Paste the pictures onto drawing paper, and draw the animalís offspring next to the picture. See attachment for center directions and rubric.


In order for this lesson to achieve success, students should have had prior experience writing sentences. They also should be able to write a 3-5 sentence paragraph focusing on a topic. This lesson helps children develop their expository writing. They are introduced to transitional words and the conclusion concept. Teachers may find their students have difficulty grasping the concluding sentence concept. You may want to provide examples of concluding sentences. This essay pattern can be applied to many other topics. Teachers may want to create a file of pictures with three objects to describe for future writing.

Read the story -Stellaluna.- Repeat the steps in the procedures for the Owl Baby activity. During the discussion of the book on Monday, students should compare the bird and bat families. Note at the back of the book there is background information on bats. If there are adopted students especially in cross racial homes, you may want to point out how adoption affects babies growing up to resemble their parents. Point out ways that all people are the same minimizing hair, skin, and eye color. Even non-adoptive children can grow to look very different from their birth parents.

Students may score one anotherís work using the rubric. Students may also score their own writing.

Web Links

Web supplement for Whooo's in the Nest?
Painting of Owls

Web supplement for Whooo's in the Nest?

Web supplement for Whooo's in the Nest?

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.