Pattern Picture Book Workshop

Introduction to The Writing For Pleasure Centre

Introduction to the session

In this session, you will be taken on a whistle-stop tour of Pattern Picture Books. This is a class writing project used by our Writing For Pleasure Centre schools. The session will show you how a project is typically planned and delivered and you will get the chance to start writing your own!

After the session, you can download all our Pattern Picture Book resources so you can do the project with your class.

Why do this project?

Pattern books teach children about what makes a great picture book. Children enjoy patterns, rhythm and surprises in their books and this project helps them to make their own. It also helps children write with confidence as each page will begin in the same way. For example, I’m scared of… or I’m happy when… These books also allow children to make books which are a mixture of information sharing and personal narrative. There is unlimited scope for the different openings children can come up with and so lots of different types of pattern books can be made. Therefore this project can be returned to throughout the year and can actually be a series of individual writing projects. The concept is simple. For example:

I can…

I saw a…

When I’m older…

I go…

I like to eat…

Sharks can…

The importance of having a class publishing house

The importance of book-making

Purpose and audience. It’s essential that children are making books for others to enjoy. Books that they can show, tell (and sometimes read) to others. For children in the EYFS, the audience can be very immediate. For children in KS1, you can start to think about audiences beyond the classroom.

The purpose and audience for the Pattern Picture Book you’re going to make today is to entertain your pupils. I really want you to make a short picture book today that you can read and share with your pupils. I also want you to answer their questions about it and for you to tell them how you made it. You can then invite them to make their own that day too…

By the way, it doesn’t always have to be book-making…

The importance of studying mentor texts (also known as: examples or WAGOLLs)

Hey! We could do that in our books!

Let’s take a look at some mentor texts (DOWNLOAD the mentor texts here).

I would like you to look at the mentor texts I’ve provided and make a list of things you think you’ll have to do or include to write a great Pattern Picture Book. This list is our product goals.

NOTE: Here’s an example of what a product goals list can look like in the context of the EYFS/KS1. This example is taken from a Year One classroom who were writing animal story picture books. The class studied Rosie’s Walk before making this product goals list together.

Here is an example taken from a Year Three class who were writing Fairy Tales.

Generate your own ideas: Have an ideas party!

  1. I’ve introduced the project.
  2. We know the purpose and audience for these Pattern Picture Books.
  3. We’ve studied a variety of mentor texts and we decided on our product goals.
  4. It’s now time to start generate ideas for what we want to write about! I have to say, this is my favourite part of teaching writing with children. Just like the children in your class, I would like you to come up with a variety of ideas of what your Pattern Picture Books could be about.

NOTE: Here are some examples of how teachers have ideas parties with their class. The first is from a Nursery class where a small group had an ideas party with their teacher on flipchart paper. The second example is taken from a Year One class where children are given flipchart paper on their desks and invited to have an ideas party with their friends.

Working through the writing processes

I would now like us to start working on our Pattern Picture Books. Obviously, with your classes you’d give them many days and even weeks to work their way through these writing processes and you’d teach them lessons everyday to help them write successfully. In the EYFS we recommend children make picture books of about 4-6 pages. In Year One this can develop towards 6-8 pages. The expectation is that there is a picture and some ‘writing’ (kidwriting and/or adult writing) on every page. Some children end up making lots of picture books, others maybe only one.

EYFS writing process
KS1 writing process

As adult writers, I’m going to leave you to write on your own. However, I have supplied you with just a few examples of mini-lessons I would typically teach children over the course of this project. With your pupils, you would just teach one thing each day. Children learn to move through these writing processes on their own and in the process make lots of picture books over and over again.

Mini-lesson #1: Let’s use kid writing

A long time ago there lived a three-year-old author. Me. – Helen Lester

The job of teachers in the early years of children’s writing development is to nurture children who see themselves as writers and to help them write happily. It’s never a good sign nor is it healthy for a class to fear writing to such an extent that they become children who constantly need to ask ‘Is this right?,’ or ‘I don’t know how to write it – can you do it?’. That’s why it’s a good idea at the beginning of the year to teach a few mini-lessons on how to make kid writing. Even before mastering letter/sound correspondence or becoming a formal reader, a student can scribble or approximate every single word they know. Therefore, all children can write if we set up the expectation that they should use a mixture of kid writing (using their imaginations and approximations to make and use marks) and ‘adult writing’, using their developing knowledge of letter/sound correspondence and their sound and word mat resources. Finally, I can highly recommend reading Author: A True Story by Helen Lester. Ideally, before you deliver this mini-lesson. For example, during read-aloud. 

NOTE: This is just an example. You should make your own and change the ages depending on where your children are developmentally – so as not to make them feel they are behind.

Mini-lesson #2: A drawing and kid writing on every page

In the EYFS and KS1, it is rarely necessary to ask children to produce a formal plan. There are three main reasons for this: 

  1. The children are often writing in the moment. 
  2. Children aren’t writing enough to justify the writing of a formal plan. In my experience, their plans are usually as long as their final pieces. 
  3. Children’s drawings often act as their plans. For example, many children will draw the pictures for each page of their picture book before doing their writing. This is great for children who sometimes return to their writing and can’t remember what they are working on, and their drawings act as a natural reminder and plan. 

For this mini-lesson, simply show children how you’ve drawn all the illustrations for your picture book and how you’re now going to add your writing based on those illustrations. You can then invite them to do the same thing during writing time that day. Alternatively, show them how you draw one illustration at a time before doing your writing underneath.

Mini-lesson #3: YES! I did it!

Children like to know what they have to do and how to do it. They also get a great deal of satisfaction and confidence in knowing they are doing a good job. That’s what checklists in the EYFS/KS1 are all about. 

The best way to introduce the concept of checklists is to show how you’ve used one with your own picture book making. Explain your process and invite questions from the children before giving them an opportunity to use the checklist for themselves during book making time. I would provide one word of caution. The best checklists are the ones you construct with your class collaboratively, in response to where your children are developmentally, and influenced by the particular writing project they are working on.

NOTE: Usually, this checklist would be based on what we discussed when we studied the mentor texts. The list of things we said we were going to do to make a great pattern book earlier would be turned into a checklist for the children to use.

Mini-lesson #4: How do you know your book is finished?

Part of running an excellent writing classroom is ensuring that it runs smoothly and that children are as independent as they can be. This includes children knowing when they are finished and what they should do once they are finished. Below is an example of a poster created as part of this mini-lesson. It’s good to ask the children themselves how they know they are finished and to ask them what they think they should do when they have finished making a book or completed their piece of writing.

Publishing or performing

Certainly when you’re well into KS1, at the beginning of any writing project, the class can get together to look at our Publishing and performing menu and decide where they want their final pieces to be published and for whom. They should then celebrate by having a publishing party. For children in the EYFS, they make books more spontaneously and so their audience is usually their peers, their teachers and their caregivers.

Resources

  • Other class writing projects in this series – LINK
  • Our quick guide to teaching writing in the EYFS – LINK
  • Our quick guide to teaching writing in KS1 – LINK
  • Our BIG book of mini-lessons: lessons that teach powerful craft knowledge to 3-11 year olds – LINK
  • Our writing development scales and assessment toolkit – LINK

Finally

I hope you enjoyed this session. If you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me – LINK

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