Teaching students to write personal narratives is usually the first genre of writing we begin with in the primary grades. For students, writing stories about themselves and their daily activities can be easier than making up a story entirely!
When I would teach personal narratives, I would use the “small moments” method and teach students to really try to choose just one, small moment from their day to write about, and then we can stretch it out. I find when I don’t teach them to pick a small moment, students begin to ramble about all sorts of things that have happened to them and they don’t provide much detail within their story.
To help students see examples of small moment personal narratives, I have two mentor texts that I love to use when teaching this!
Before I dive into both books, I share this information here in my YouTube video if you want to watch/listen to the information instead of reading it:
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Night of the Veggie Monster
The first book I love to use is called Night of the Veggie Monster by George McClements. It is a fun book about a little boy who has to eat peas with his dinner that night. The author uses great sensory imagery as the boy spends page after page agonizing about the thought of eating a pea! I also love to use this book with younger students because it is funny and relatable.
The next book I love to use when teaching small moments is Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning. This is another great book to zoom in on a small moment. It is about a little girl who wakes up late at night and she hears and sees her mom and dad dancing in the kitchen together through a cracked door. It is a sweet book that takes place entirely during that small frame of time.
I also love this book because it one that we can use as a mentor text numerous times throughout our personal narratives unit. We can use it at the beginning of the unit to hone in on what a small moment is. Then, we can read it later in the unit to teach sensory details. Maurie J. Manning uses words like clinking, swishing, clattering to help the reader feel like they are there! I often teach how to use sound words when we are adding details to our stories and this book is great at showing that.
Those are just two of my favorite books to use when teaching students how to write their own small moments! I know there are many others teachers like to use as well. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite mentor texts for small moments!
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