K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • exercise and improve their elaboration skills in creative narrative writing.
  • practice their creative narrative writing abilities.
  • use higher order thinking skills for the creation of the Coastal Plain creature.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

4 days


  • The Terrible Eek: Japanese Tale retold by Patricia A. Compton and illustrated by Sheila Hamanaka. If this book is not available to you, then any story about an imaginary animal would be acceptable.
  • Transparencies, vis-a-vis markers, overhead projector, construction paper, markers, crayons, clay and other arts and crafts material available.
  • Writing paper and pencils.
  • Provide each student with a cut out circle (which will be the body of the animal), in which they will create their imaginary creature.


  • The students should have read or heard some information about Coastal Plain animals. We recommend that this activity be done after studying the Coastal Plain in Social Studies.
  • The students should have some knowledge about elaboration in creative writing. Elaboration is a way of describing specific events in a story in order to move the creative writing along in a smooth, flowing process. The teacher could have the class brainstorm descriptive words before this lesson.


  1. The teacher will read to the class the book The Terrible Eek using good facial expressions, voice tone, and showing the pictures.
  2. Teacher and students will discuss the book focusing on imaginary creatures. The teacher could promote some critical thinking about how the students would feel if they encountered a creature that they have never heard of or seen before. Have the students to discuss these feelings. During the discussion, the teacher could be writing the descriptive words being said by the students, on the board.
  3. Model how to create the creature activity while adding elaboration. In this activity the teacher will draw a circle on the overhead projector or board. The teacher will explain to the students that the circle is the body of an imaginary Coastal creature that they must help. The teacher will then ask the students to give the circle some elaboration by adding on details. While drawing these details on the circle, the teacher will also write these descriptive words underneath the creature. When the class is satisfied with their newly elaborated Coastal Plain creature, the teacher will discuss the difference between the plain circle and the elaborated one.
  4. The teacher will pass out one cut out of the body of the imaginary animal to each student, and they will create their own elaborated Coastal Plain creature. The students are allowed to use any kind of arts and crafts materials there are available in the class. The students also must write the descriptive words that describe the additions they make to their creature.
  5. The students will share their imaginary creature with a peer and discuss.
  6. The teacher will write on the board and read out loud the following narrative imaginary prompt:
    One day you are fishing off the coast of North Carolina with some friends, when all of the sudden you feel a tug on your fishing line. You begin to reel your “catch” in and you have caught an unusual animal you have never seen before. “Wow, look at this”…tell what happens next.
  7. After the prompt has been given to the students, the teacher will tell the students that they need to use the creature created in class (activity 4) as their imaginary creature in the story. Teacher will also remind students to use the elaboration skills that they have practiced.
  8. When students are finished they will peer edit for elaboration (the students will find/be assigned to a partner in order to add or delete elaboration in the story).
  9. The student will also edit their own story focusing on elaboration, and then they will turn it in to the teacher along with their creative animal.
  10. After the rubric assessment, the teacher will give feedback to each student about the assignment.




When reading the book, make sure you use visuals, gestures and facial expressions to the Novice High English Language Learners.

The modeling of the creation of the imaginary creature is already a good resource for the Novice High English Language Learners, because the teacher will be demonstrating with the overhead projector.

The Novice High English Language Learners will create their own animal using arts and crafts and describe it with short sentences/simple phrases. The teacher can provide a word bank, picture dictionary, and/or bilingual dictionary.

The Novice High English Language Learners would be responsible for a short paragraph for their creative story or they can write the story in their native language mixed with descriptive words they learned in English. The Novice High English Language Learners might need teacher assistance during this process.

Alternative assessments

ELL Rubric

Critical vocabulary

Imaginary, creature, Coastal Plain, elaboration, Rubric


This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 3
          • 3.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. 3.W.3.1 Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds...
          • 3.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. 4.W.3.1 Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize...
          • 4.W.5 With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.07: Compose fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama using self-selected and assigned topics and forms (e.g., personal and imaginative narratives, research reports, diaries, journals, logs, rules, instructions).
    • Objective 4.09: Produce work that follows the conventions of particular genres (e.g., personal and imaginative narrative, research reports, learning logs, letters of request, letters of complaint).

English Language Development (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 0:
    • Objective 0.02: Understand and follow one-step and two-step directions with modeling and prompting when spoken slowly and distinctly.
    • Objective 0.05: Compose a simple sentence with direct instruction and support materials (e.g., word walls, personal dictionaries, teacher modeling, peer assistance).