I love teaching with picture books. They have so many great projects you can do with them. I can just hear you now, “That’s right Ticia, I love to use picture books with my six-year-old!” I loved that too, but I’m talking about picture books with my older kids. Picture books are the perfect way to illustrate complex writing topics quickly. If you assign a novel, your kid is going to be reading for hours or days before they get to the lesson. With a picture book, they can get it all in just a few minutes. For our writing lesson today, Princess and I worked on looking for the unexpected twist in a story.
There’s a special treat at the bottom of the post to help you make your own unexpected twist picture book writing lesson
(This post is sponsored by Candlewick Press, these opinions are totally mine, but I just have to say I know if Candlewick Press is the publisher it’s going to be a quality book)
Supplies for the Unexpected Twist picture book Writing lesson
picture books with an unexpected twist (another way to explain this is fractured tales), for my unit I used: The Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise (a happy accident this book illustrated my point so perfectly), The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse, The Mouse House, Do You Believe in Unicorns, and The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare
I had the hardest time picking from their Fall catalog, it’s AMAZING! Seriously as I was planning this post I had about 10 different ideas
Unexpected Writing Printable (if you join my newsletter you’ll get access to this and tons more printables)
Before you read, what do you expect from your picture books?
Now, if this was an official lesson plan, we’d call this the pre-reading portion, and build the excitement, and other terms I don’t remember.
Look at the titles and the covers of the books, what do you expect to happen?
As Princess and I looked over the books, we talked about what we expected. For the “Do You Believe in Unicorns” book I was expecting it to be about a unicorn trying to disguise itself as a horse. We wrote our ideas down on the Unexpected Twist writing printable.
The title of the “The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare” led us to expect a princess story. It certainly started that way. By the by, this book series is one of Princess’ friends favorite series (she’s 6 and is the most adorable little girl).
Read and take notes on the unexpected twist in your picture book
Once you’ve written down what you expect, sit down and start reading. The great thing about picture books this doesn’t take long. Princess actually read almost all of the books on the way back from the bookstore. I snuck a picture of her reading when I was stopped at a stop light.
Once we were home, she started on the project properly and I got some fun pictures of her. Thankfully, she’s still at the hamming it up for the camera stage, unlike Batman who getting a camera out is the best way to make him run and hide…
The Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise had a perfect synopsis of what I was looking for. Only we’re taking it a step further.
More awesome projects inspired by Candlewick Press books
- World War 1 writing prompts
- Make a World War 1 doll nurse’s hat
- Make a World War 1 doll soldier’s helmet
Brainstorm your unexpected twist
Once you’ve read all of your books, seriously, you will not expect the twist in The Wolf, The Duck, and The Mouse, start brainstorming your own story.
Think what you want people to expect from your story. Should they expect a brave prince who rescues the princess from the dragon? Or will they look for a rags to riches tale?
Now stop and figure out how you’ll turn that expectation right smack upside down.
Princess is publishing her final draft on Thursday. I’m looking forward to the end results of the project. Once it’s published I’ll share it with all of you.
More writing inspiration for you
- How to write a research paper
- How to write a fable
- How to create a Writer’s Notebook for your student
- Teach your elementary child how to write a report
- How to make your own portable writing center
Get a discount at Candlewick
Order directly from Candlewick Press and enter discount code CANDLEWICK at checkout to receive a 25% discount. I bought my boys the Dungeons and Dragons Choose Your Own Adventure books and they LOVE them.