A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Rolling with
the Animals

writing original stories
with action-packed descriptors

The writing of author David Shannon is currently inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of idea development and organization. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

You can publish up to three of your students' edited and finished stories at this page.

Use these samples to inspire your student writers! Discussing the strengths of published student samples before, while, and after using this on-line assignment is important. If your students are engaged in trait- or skill-inspired discussions about any of the samples we've posted here, they will produce better writing, especially if you help them take their writing all the way through the writing process.

Thank you, those who share their students' writing with us.

Additional Student Samples Being Sought:
Grades 1, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learn more about WritingFix's policies for publishing student work by visiting our Publishing Student Writers Information Page.

WritingFix is currently seeking additional student samples from this writing assignment that can be featured in this space. Submitted student work must show evidence of revision, editing, and the final draft must be typed and sent through e-mail.

To have us consider your students' writing for inclusion on this page, you must post the writing to our Ning page dedicated to this lesson. Click here to access that page. You must first be a member of the Writing Lesson of the Month Network in order to post.

Student Samples: Early Elementary

Hamster's Wild Idea
by Emily, second grade writer

One day there was a family that went to Disney World with their goofy hamster.  He got loose.  He found a motorcycle in the hotel parking lot.  The key was in the slot, so Hamster started the motorcycle engine.  Hamster drove past a big teenage girl.  "Hi, Teenage Girl, how are you?"

"Ahhh!  A talking animal!"  shouted the girl.  She got out her phone and dialed nine-one-one. 

"I better get out of here," said Hamster.  Hamster zoomed past Zebra.  "Hi, Zebra, how are you?"

Zebra thought, "How ridiculous is that?" 

Hamster looked suspiciously at her.  Next, Hamster stood on the motorcycle and did a cartwheel.  He zoomed by Tarantula.  "Hi, Tarantula, how are you?"

Tarantula yelled, "Get away, Dumb Bunny."

"Hey, I'm not dumb, and I'm not a bunny!"  yelled Hamster.

The Teenage Girl, Zebra, Tarantula, and Hamster all looked at each other.  Then they looked at the motorcycle.  "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" 


Then everybody hopped on the motorcycle.  The Teenage Girl, Zebra, Tarantula, and Hamster all loved that motorcycle!  They felt as if they were going 100 miles per hour!

(Click here to open/print Emily and three of her classmates' stories.)

Penguin on a Surfboard
by Emily, third grade writer

One summer day, a penguin was getting a tan.  Penguin saw this red-colored, orange flaming plastic-looking thing by the old palm tree.  He waddled over to it and picked it up. Penguin called it a surfboard.  Penguin took the surfboard to the ocean and tried riding on a wave.  After several tries to stand on the surfboard he did it. 

Soon he rode past Shark and said, "Cow a bung ya!" He then surfed away. 

Seal was playing by some rocks and saw Penguin riding on a surfboard and said, "Who does he  think he is? Tony Hawk?"

Two Blue Jays were flying in the sky above the ocean and saw Penguin surfing on the board.  They were daydreaming on how much fun that might be, and then they saw 16 bananas on a tree nearby. They were hungry so they quickly flew over to the tree, but before they could get over there, Penguin rode his surfboard on a large wave and he snatched the bananas up. 

All the animals on the beach started chasing Penguin by swimming as fast as they could.  Penguin fell off his surfboard and the other animals were getting closer to him,  but before the animals could catch him, something distracted them them.  All their eyes went to a place on the beach.  There were 10 surfboards in a straight line just sitting on the beach. 

Each of the animals swam back to the beach and got a surf board. They all went surfing in the ocean along with Penguin.  It was getting late and at 10:00 P.M. they had hot chocolate and went to bed. 

All the animals dreamed of surfing together on the big wave and leaving Penguin behind. When they woke they found Penguin surfing on the biggest wave ever and they joined him.  All the animals laughed and surfed all day long.

(Click here to open/print Emily's story for your third graders.)

Student Samples: Upper Elementary

Panther’s Purple Tram
by Cassandra, fourth grade writer

Panther woke up one morning in the mood to play. “I will play with Brother and Papa Panther today,” she said. “They will want me to visit them at the Fauna and Flora Zoo and Gardens.”

Panther headed to the zoo, wondering what her family was up to. “Maybe they will want to race,” she thought. “Or they might be eating.” She stepped through the hole in the zoo gate.

“Maybe Mama Panther will be feeding the new cuuuu….” She stopped dead in her tracks. There, sitting in front of her was the large, shiny, new, purple zoo tram. She stepped forward to examine it. Slowly, she edged her way toward the driver’s seat. She stepped inside.

“Look at all the buttons and levers!” she shouted in surprise. She turned the key and the tram rumbled as if to say, “Take me for a spin, I know you want to.” Panther put her paw on the gas pedal and turned the wheel.

“To the kangaroos!” she declared.

When she got to the kangaroo exhibit, she honked the tram horn. Roothy Kangaroo was leaping about, but stopped when she saw Panther and looked distressed. “Hello, how are you Mrs. Kangaroo?” Panther asked.

“I was better before you drove up in the tram,” muttered Mrs. Kangaroo.

Panther ignored the rude comment.

(Click here to open/print Cassandra's entire story for your fourth graders to read.)

Lion Drives a Ferrari on the Safari
by Paul, fifth grade writer

Lion was a small and weak lion with a stringy mane, blunt short claws, a small stubby tail, and a sad frown. Instead of the proud blue glint in the eyes of the other lions, Lion had murky brown eyes with no glint at all. His fur stuck out in places, and he had many in-grown whiskers.

Lion had always dreamed about being the center of attention. As you can imagine, he wasn’t. In fact, he was teased by many of the other animals. But inside the head of Lion’s ugly body was a brain that charted out a plan. He put it to action.

Lion saw a Ferrari one blistering, scorching day. It was scarlet red with big wheels, oversized rubber tires, and a jumbo form. Some people stepped out of it, speaking a language that wasn’t Lion Language, and walked away, emitting more strange sounds.

Lion opened the door and leapt in. As he had seen the people do, he pushed on the pedal with his back paw. The Ferrari zoomed forward, but Lion kept it under control, and he clumsily steered it towards Tiger.

“Hey, Tiger,” called Lion out the car window.

Tiger ignored Lion, but here is what he pondered – “Get away from me, you – you – you lion!”

Lion swerved towards Elephant. “Hey, Elephant,” he called out the car window.

Elephant ignored him, but this is what she wondered – “How does he do that without crashing and hurting himself?”

Lion drove forward towards Jackal. “Hey, Jackal,” he called out of the car window.

Jackal ignored him, but this is what he emoted – “Gimme that car, ya misshaped puss!”

Lion forlornly decided that his plan must have failed because the other animals weren't impressed. He was about to exit the Ferrari when he saw Tiger driving a Lamborghini, Elephant driving a Mustang, and Jackal driving a limousine.

(Click here to open/print Paul and one of his classmate's stories for your fifth graders.)

Student Samples: Middle School

The Leaping Lemur
by Megan, seventh grade writer

One cool and windy day in a jungle far, far, away, a lemur named Leo was resting peacefully in his home high above the tallest trees on the island. He was colored a light grey from the top of his head to the tip of his tail, complemented with black and white stripes randomly placed all over his fur.

Always hungry for adventure, Leo set out to find something fun and exciting to do. Not very long after, he discovered a shiny blue pogo stick that glistened in the very little light the sun gave off on that cloudy day. Curious, he picked up the strange object in his tiny white hands and sprang up on to it. He teetered unsteadily from side to side like an out of control teeter totter as he struggled to catch his balance. Luckily it didn’t take very long for Leo to master the contraption and soon he set out to show off his new finding.

Within a few minutes, he spotted Patricia the parrot soaring high above the clouds with such elegance and grace that it would be hard not to find it beautiful. He impatiently waited while she swooped gracefully down from the air and landed perfectly on a nearby branch. “Look at me,” Leo shouted happily from his spot on the ground. “This is the funniest thing I have ever done. You should give it a try.”

Patricia let out a high-pitched chuckle as she considered his suggestion. “Darling, now why would I spend my time doing that when I can fly? It’s so much faster and comes with an excellent view,” she all but laughed and flew giggling out towards the horizon until she was completely out of sight.

Leo continued on and eventually encountered a small pond with lush green plants and water so clear you could see right through to the bottom. In the middle of the water, Hilda the hippo was lazily sunbathing on his belly. Leo sprang toward him so exuberantly that it was impossible not to catch on to his joyful attitude. “Hey Hilda, isn’t this cool?” he inquired about his pogo stick.

“Totally rad,” replied the hippo in his deep, slow voice. But secretly he thought, “Man, just looking at him makes me feel exhausted,” and he sank slowly back into the pond to sleep.

Next Leo found a herd of giraffes peacefully grazing in a large, vast field with tall yellow grass and plenty of trees. They didn’t seem to notice Leo as he bounced toward them and instead they just kept right on eating. He stopped in front of the tallest giraffe, Gina. “Look what I can do,” he exclaimed and sprang high into the air and grabbed an apple off a nearby tree! He proceeded to take a big crunchy bite out of the delicious, shiny red fruit!

Gina snorted. “I can do that all on my own,” she bragged with quite an arrogant tone! To prove her point she stretched out her long, slender neck so far that it seemed to grow and ate a leaf off of the highest tree in the valley, and immediately she flashed the lemur a big, toothy grin.

Leo continued on the path of the jungle and soon saw Kate the kangaroo tending to her baby, Joey. As Leo came into view, her face turned from happy to aggravated in a second. “Gosh,” she puffed angrily as soon as Leo was within hearing distance, “is it so hard for anyone to come up with their own ideas anymore?” and hopped loudly into the sunset.

After his long day of exercise, Leo was exhausted and tiredly climbed back to his cozy home which was sheltered by bright green leaves, a mixture of colorful flowers, and tall, thick grass that made it almost invisible, and therefore safe. After his long hours of rest, he became very thirsty and went down to the cool, blue river to take a long drink.

To his surprise, all of the animals he had encountered on his pogo stick were there, but not at all for the same reason! Since the animals had seen lemur having so much fun jumping, they were inspired to create their own jumping fun! Hilda and Patricia jumped on a trampoline, Gina bounced on moon shoes, and Kate of course used her own two feet. And so, they all jumped happily ever after.

(Click here to print Megan and another middle school sample for your students to discuss.)

Lucky Pedals
by Tyson, eighth grade writer

Lucky the squirrel was gathering nuts for the winter when he came across the bike. The whole bike was red except for the fork, which was a deep blue. The bike had two wheels and a really cool basket. The best thing of all…it was just the right size, and you know how squirrels are; they can’t resist a good look at something. It was just too tempting, so he dropped all of the nuts that he was carrying and shot toward the bike. He looked it over front to back, then deciding to take it out for a little spin, he leapt onto it.

As he was riding, he came upon Beaver working on his dam. When Beaver saw that Lucky was riding the bike, he jumped up onto the dam. “Goodness, that is a very good bike that you have there, yes, yes, yes. Where did you get it?”

“I got it in the forest. It was just lying around. I decided that a ride was necessary. Don’t you think that it looks great?”

“Oh, yes, yes, yes, I wish I had one just like that. I think that after I finish the dam that I will take a look myself and see if there is any more of those just lying around. That would be very fun to get one just like that!” Beaver then jumped off his dam. “I think that I should go now!”

So Lucky kept riding on. When he turned the bend, he heard a splatter and suspected that the dam had broken.

Then he came to Duck. She was taking a picnic when he rode past her. “That is a wonderful bike that you have there. Does Beaver know about it? I think that he would like it very much.” Before Lucky could speak, she packed her lunch and said, “I think that I will go look for one myself. I would love to have one.”

She hobbled away, muttering to herself about youngsters being so careless. So Lucky kept riding.

As Lucky was whistling to himself, he heard an angry cry from behind him. It was Chimpanzee, who looked really angry. “That’s my bike, you thief!” Then Chimpanzee leapt up into the air and landed on Lucky’s back.

Lucky fell off the bike, landing on the side of it. He was not hurt, but he did not know about the bike. He didn’t know anything about bikes, but it seemed okay. He brushed himself off with his paws and got up.

Chimpanzee was furious. “How could you steal my bike?! I had left it leaning against a tree while I climbed another tree and ate bananas. When I came down, it was gone. I saw the nuts that were scattered on the ground and realized that it must have been you.”

“I am SOOOOOOOO sorry,” Lucky apologized. “I did not mean for this to happen. When I saw the bike, I thought that maybe someone had left it, and it would be good for me to take it for a spin. I was going to return it, and I am sorry that I stole your bike. Here is your bike and I will go gather nuts,” Lucky said as he handed the bike to Chimpanzee. “I know now that I should never take anyone’s stuff, even if it is just sitting there.”

“It’s all right. Don’t go making a fuss about it. I didn’t realize that you had not meant to steal it. I should be the one saying I am sorry.” Then he got on his bike and rode off.

Lucky shook his small head and headed back to gather nuts.

(Click here to print Tyson and another middle school sample for your students to discuss.)

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