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

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Learning outcomes

The student will learn that an imaginative narrative can be a circular journey. He/She will be able to identify characters that appeared in the real and the imaginative parts of a story. The student will be able to define a circular journey and explain how to use that format in his/her own writing.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

45 minutes


Technology resources

Overhead projector or some other projection device


  • Students will need to know the difference between a personal and an imaginative narrative and possibly have attempted writing an imaginative narrative.
  • Prepare materials, both teacher and student (transparencies and student materials). Copy Word Sheet Two so that there are enough copies for all students. Cut the words apart and place in legal size envelopes (one per student).
  • Prepare models of both sorting activities. (Wizard of Oz and Jack and the Beanstalk) Use words from Word Sheets One and Two. Use the Teacher Model as your model for assembly.


  1. When you begin this lesson, have the Questions transparency on the overhead. Cover the second question and have students generate their own definitions for a circular journey. Then uncover the second question and have them speculate on how they might use the same format to write their own imaginative narrative.
  2. Explain to students that today they will be looking at two examples of circular journies and will be noticing a similar pattern in those stories that will help them in their own writing. Explain that you will be reading a story to them and they are to listen for characters that appear in the real part of the story and for those that appear in the imaginative part and for those that might appear in both parts. They will also need to listen for the vehicle that takes the characters into the imaginary part and the vehicle that takes them back into the real part. You will be filling in a chart (Wizard Transparency - Attachment) on which they will dictate items and characters when you are finished reading.
  3. Read The Wizard of Oz to the students. Place the Wizard of Oz transparency on the overhead. Have students name all of the characters, or items, that appeared in the beginning, or real part, of the story. Have students determine the vehicle that takes them to the imaginative part (tornado). Write this vehicle halfway between the Real and the Imaginary sections. Then have students do the same for characters, or items, that appeared in the imaginative part. Have students identify the vehicle that carries them back to the real part (shoes) and write this word halfway between the imaginary and the last real portion of the transparency. Then add to the section labeled “real” at the end. There will be some who appear in all three parts. As you discuss the fact that this story starts in the real, then goes to the imaginative, then comes back to the real, you can place the “Beginning, Middle, End” transparency on top of the Wizard of Oz transparency and explain that these three divisions can be your divisions for an imaginative narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end. (Students will be fascinated by the appearance of the new words!)
  4. Introduce the next activity by saying:
    “Now I will read another story to you and you will apply the same principles to this story in an individual sorting activity”
  5. Read Jack and the Beanstalk aloud to students.
  6. Have students place their piece of construction paper on their desk along with the envelope containing all of the items and characters in the story. Explain that they will be sorting all of the words into the real, or imaginative category for this story. They will place them in the proper column and then glue them into place.
  7. Show students the Teacher Model using the words from The Wizard of Oz, Word Sheet One, on the same type of construction paper.
  8. While students work, circulate and prompt for proper placement when necessary.
  9. Upon completion, show your completed model for Jack and the Beanstalk and read the words in each column.
  10. As a summary, put the Questions transparency back on the overhead and have volunteers answer the same two questions orally.
  11. Have students then complete the Student Reflection Sheets as a part of your assessment.
  12. As a follow-up activity, students could be given a prompt such as:
    “You are shopping in the mall and see a rocking chair on display. You sit in it to rest and something strange happens. Write about what happens when you sit in the chair.”
    The teacher can remind students to use the “Real - Imaginary - Real” format and write an imaginary narrative. The teacher will be able to observe whether or not students can apply concepts that they learned during the this lesson. The teacher can focus primarily on whether or not the students use the beginning, middle, end format in order to bring their story to an effective ending.


As soon as the independent practice is completed and any corrections have been made to the word sort sheets, the teacher can have students fill out the Reflection Sheet. This sheet should show the student’s ability to define a circular journey and explain that he/she can use this type of journey to plan imaginative narratives so that they stay focused and progress logically with a strong beginning, middle, and end. (Attachment - Reflection Sheet)

Supplemental information


This activity was adapted from a Charlotte Mecklenburg In-service Session which talked about ways to improve narrative writing instruction. It was presented by Pan Allen (CMS - Curriculum and Instruction).

Fourth grade students were asked to write an imaginative narrative that very year and there was a marked improvement in the organization of all papers.

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

        • Grade 3
          • 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.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 3

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.04: Use planning strategies (with assistance) to generate topics and to organize ideas (e.g., drawing, mapping, discussing, listing).

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.05: Use planning strategies to generate topics and organize ideas (e.g., brainstorming, mapping, webbing, reading, discussion).
    • 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).