Saturday, July 17, 2010

First Grade: Expository Writing

By: Christy Sexton

Lesson Focus: The first graders will create a fact book about caterpillars after listening to the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle.

Mentor Text: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by Eric Carle, is a children's book about a caterpillar's life. The caterpillar eats its way through a variety of foods, until it finally forms a chrysalis and emerges as a butterfly. This book introduces the concept of metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar to butterfly.

Purpose: The students will learn about the lifecycle of a caterpillar by listening to the book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." Before, during, and after listening to the text, the teacher will help the first graders create a KWL chart about caterpillars. After the chart is complete, the students will be ready to create their fact books.

About the Author: Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929. Carle is beloved for his picture books for very young children. His best-known work is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," that has been translated into more than 45 languages, and has sold more than 30 million copies. Since "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" was published in 1969, Eric Carle has illustrated more than seventy books, most of them best sellers, most of which he also wrote.

Academic Content Standards:

Writing Process Standard


A. Generate ideas for written compositions.


1. Generate writing ideas through discussions with others.

4. Use organizational strategies (e.g., brainstorming, lists, webs, and Venn Diagrams) to plan writing.

7. Mimic language from literature when appropriate.

Research Standard


A. Generate questions for investigation and gather information from a variety of sources.


3. Use books or observations to gather information to explain a topic or unit of study with teacher assistance.

4. Recall important imformation about a topic with teacher assistance.

Lesson Plans:

1. This lesson will be even more meaningful if the teacher is able to get about thirty caterpillars for the students to observe. If available, each student should be given one small caterpillar in a cup. The caterpillars will stay at school, but the children will have the opportunity to observe them each day. Each cup should contain caterpillar food and a piece of paper, for the caterpillar to attach to when it forms its chrysalis.

2. A couple of days after the students have had the chance to observe the caterpillars, the teacher will help the students to fill out a KWL chart, before he or she reads the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." The K section will include the information that the students know or think that they know about caterpillars, and the W section will include information that they want to know about caterpillars. After reading the text, the teacher will help the students fill out the L section, with the information that they have learned about caterpillars. The KWL chart can be filled out by the teacher as the students tell him or her what to write. Or it can be a shared writing activity, where the students share the pen and help to write out the information.

3. After the K and W sections of the chart have been filled out, the teacher will read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." As the teacher reads the book, he or she should write out specific words that the students will need to remember, such as: metamorphosis, chrysalis, egg, butterfly.

4. When the teacher has finished reading the book, the L section of the chart should be filled out.

5. The students will then go back to their desks, and either individually or in small groups, they will create a fact book about caterpillars. They should use the information from their observations, the KWL chart, and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to help them write their books. They can draw pictures to go along with their writing.

Eric Carle's Website:


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