Prewriting a How-to Book, FREEBIE!

I'm back (finally) to share more about writing workshop! If you would like to read about how we started generating ideas for our how-to unit, click HERE, otherwise keep reading!

Organization is one of the 6 Traits, certainly an important part of quality writing. My first graders have been busy prewriting their how-to books... here's what we've done!
How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

Graphic organizers are really helpful for organizing, but they can also be a little bit confusing for students because they don't always understand that they only need to write the main ideas with a few key words or a phrase. I made up this format hoping that the shapes and divisions would help to keep things brief. Click on the picture of it below to grab a copy!

How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
(We use Handwriting Without Tears, so the lines here support that)

I think a book is more polished when it includes an introduction and a conclusion, so I also introduced those components. I explained that an introduction explains to the reader why they should read the book, and that the conclusion helps the reader feel like it's finished. Here is what I modelled using my doc camera:
How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

I kept thinking aloud saying, "I only need to write the most important ideas..." When I wrote about steps, I explained that I needed to write "action words"- I have not explicitly taught the word "verb" yet, but I will.

I found that half the class wrote too much (mostly the more proficient writers) and the rest did really well to keep their planners brief! That's actually pretty hard because it essentially requires them to summarize the steps into concise little phrases! I know they will get better with more practice with prewriting.
Here are a couple examples of concise planners.... (if you read my last post, here is the follow-up to "How to Make a Paper Lantern":
How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom

How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
Her introductions states, "no {pajamas} to school". Quite right! You must be dressed!
About the conclusion, I think she was out of ideas as to how to end her book. I don't really think getting dressed is truly fun, (unless your Rachel Zoe) so I'll address that later on when we confer...."What do you want the reader to be able to do now? What do you hope they got from reading your book?"

On this planner you can also see, "P1", "P2", etc. - on the following day, I showed students how to label each part of their planner to become a page in their book so they could start drafting. This makes it easy for students to keep their book organized- they know when to get the next page. Here are this student's first couple pages,  her introduction and materials page:
How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
As you can see, I helped her add the last bit by spelling pajamas.
How-to Prewriting Freebie, Creating a Thoughtful Classroom
We will confer later about adding on the this page.
Thanks for checking in! I'm excited to share more about our drafts and revisions soon!
How do you teach how-to writing?


  1. Thank you for the great graphic organizer and such clear directions on how to use it. I found you on Friday Freebie.
    Artistry of Education

  2. THANK YOU for the planning page! This is an area I really need to give more thought to. We also have access to HWT at my school. I appreciate the ideas & freebie!
    Thanks again, Jen

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment, Jen! Hope the planner helps you with writing :)


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