Beacon Lesson Plan Library

E.T. Write Home

Susan Mercer


After reading [The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System,] the students will pretend they're E.T. writing letters home describing his adventures through the solar system in a journal format.


The student reads informational texts for specific purposes (including but not limited to performing a task, learning a new task, sequentially carrying out the steps of a procedure, locating information to answer a question).

The student generates ideas before writing on self-selected topics and assigned tasks.

The student uses conventions of punctuation (including but not limited to periods, question marks, exclamation points; commas in dates, series of words, and in greetings and closings in letters).

The student writes informally (for example, journal entries, reading response, poetry).

The student listens for information and pleasure.


- [The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System] by Joanna Cole, Scholastic Inc, Broadway, New York, 1990.
-Other library books on space and planets.
-Overhead projector
-10 sheets of notebook paper per students
-2 sheets of construction paper per student
-Friendly letter transparency (teacher written, and labeled for parts)
-Journal heading with friendly letter as its entry made into a transparency
-Chart tablet and marker
-Pictures, posters, or books that contain the E.T. character


1. Gather from the media center the book [The Magic School Bus Lost in Space] and other space/planet books. Make sure you have non-fiction books included in your selection.
2. Write a short friendly letter and label its parts and have this made into a transparency.
3. Write a sample journal heading with a sample friendly letter that incorporates some planetary facts and have this made into a transparency.
4. Gather 2 sheets of construction and 10 sheets of notebook paper per student.


Day 1
1. Read [The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System,] by Joanna Cole.

2. Students dictate to the teacher on chart paper the planets visited by the characters from the book. Guide them so the planets will be in order from the sun, by giving them clues/characteristics of each planet.

3. Describe their assignment by having them discuss who E.T. was from the movie and what he wanted to do (Phone home).

4. Tell them that they are going to pretend they are E.T., and they have to write letters home in a dated journal from day 1 to day 10, the time itís going to take for E.T. to visit the sun and each of the nine planets. They are to describe in their letters home one thing they/E.T. have found interesting about each planet. (This should be a fact to test recall of information) *If students are unfamiliar with the E.T. character, you can display a picture, poster, or book with a visual of the character on it.

5. Have them make their planet fact sheet using other library texts and resources located in your room. Save this list for use on Day 2.

Day 2
1. Review the format for recording in a daily journal by modeling on the overhead a sample entry of E.T.ís visit to the sun (ex. Day 1 Blast off to the sun).

2. Have the students practice this by heading their notebook pages for the 9 planets as you walk around the room spot checking their work.

3. Review now the parts of a friendly letter: date, greeting, body, closing, and signature. Emphasize the required punctuation marks that must be in the date, greeting, and closing. This is easy to do with a sample letter made into a transparency so the students can easily identify and review the parts of a friendly letter with you.

4. Now using an overhead transparency show the students how to incorporate their planet fact sheet information into their letters to record them on their daily journal pages that theyíve already written.

5. Have them do their first letter home for the planet Mercury as you circulate the room checking their work.

Day 3
1. Review the focus of the lesson by having a student state what they are supposed to be doing.

2. Discuss any problems or questions they have about the letter format or contents.

3. Students continue to write their E.T. letters home on the correct journal heading, about 2 a day until they have finished all 9 planets.

Day 4
1. Same as Day 3

Day 5
1. Same as Day 3

Day 6
1. Same as Day 3

Day 7
1. Have students take and decorate their construction paper/front cover for their E.T. journals and staple their entries to it.

2. Ask students to read their favorite letter home to the class.

3. Demonstrate how they should be read (i.e. Day 1 Blast off to the sun; date March 14, 2020. Dear Mom and Dad , etc


The teacher will circulate and assist students with the proper heading of their journal format and then use the attached checklist to evaluate the overall journal for friendly letter parts and punctuation.


Students should already have had practice writing in journals and doing friendly letters.
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