A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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Overcoming a
Personified Fear

using transitions to move a reader through an original three-part story

The writing of author Mercer Mayer inspired these four student writers to try new techniques with the traits of organization and idea development. 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, 4, 5, 7, 8, 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. Teachers: if you can help us obtain one, two or three student samples, along with a digital photo of the student(s) and a signed permission slips, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of the Northern Nevada Writing Project's print publications.

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

The Fireplace that Screamed
by Kalama, second grade writer

There used to be a screaming fireplace in my living room. He made me bump into all the walls in fear. Before I sat down to get warm, I would always hope that when I opened my eyes he would be gone.

I even tried to get rid of all of his wood once. When it was time to get warm, I feared that his smoke would tackle me down to the ground.

Finally one day I decided to use the heater instead of the fireplace, and he never scared me again.

Dragon Problems
by Kendalynn, third grade writer

There used to be a dragon in the neighborhood. Anytime he felt like it, he’d pick our house up and shake it. It made me feel afraid, scared and like I wanted to crawl under a rock. I was not getting any sleep because of him!

Finally, I yelled at him. I said, “GO AWAY!”

He started to cry. I told him it was okay. Now anytime he gets mad, he only does a little rumble, but when he does, I pretend I am on a roller coaster ride.


(Click here to print/view Kamala, Kendalynn, and two of their classsmates' stories.)

Student Samples: Upper Elementary

There Used to be Darkness
by Matthew, sixth grade writer

There used to be darkness everywhere I went. He was around the corner, in the basement, under the bed, and even at school. Darkness would make me cower and run under my bed, which apparently was haunted by him too. I used to be so paranoid that when I was told to go downstairs, my feet would stick like glue, ignoring the incessant commands. Darkness was my enemy, and I had no authority over him.

As soon as the lights were off, there he was, standing as tall and as wide as the room, surrounding me with his entire mass. His dark, red eyes stared deep into my soul, searching for a soft spot which he could strike. The mouth is what would scare me most; his large grin would show its yellow stained, pointed teeth that were willing to do anything it wished. But the part that he enjoyed most was his claws; every time that I turned off the lights, I could see him scratch away all remaining light until he, Darkness, was the only thing standing.

Years passed, and I was still terrified of Darkness, all until one day, the day I decided my fear needed to be put to an end. Since I wasn’t brave enough to end it too fast, I started out small. My basement was the place where I practiced. I brought down flashlights so that I could still have a little light instead of having the lights completely off. Flashlights helped me slowly get used to the darkness. And, sure enough, the flashlights that I brought downstairs grew fewer and fewer, till there was only one left. I was proud of myself and what I had accomplished, and then, there was only one thing left to do. This was to turn off the last flashlight, so that it was just him and me.

The day had come, and I was in the middle of the basement, ready to flip the switch of the last light, ready to complete the last step in overcoming my fear.  Click, and the light was off. And there I lay, watching Darkness try to use his eyes to look into my soul and scare me. But not this time, for this time I overpowered him, and this time I watched him cower in disbelief at the sight of me not cowering. Then, I gave him one last stare--a stare that showed confidence and trust, because I knew I could defeat him, and he knew I was no longer afraid.

(Click here to print/view Matthew and six other sixth graders' stories.)

My Fear
by Morgan, sixth grade writer

There used to be a spider in my underwear. The thing that scared me most was its glaring eyes. They are always watching me, and they make my hair stand up on my legs. Every once in a while, I still get the wiggles just by hearing someone mentioning the word “spider.” Long before the hairy monster bit me in the bottom, I always hoped it would die, but how? I managed to get the spider out of my underwear, but it came back. When it was time to go to school, I checked my underwear. Guess what? The eight-legged spider was back Oh no! Finally, one day I decided not to be afraid of my fear of spiders by taking this problem on in my own creative way.

My decision finally made, I decided to wash away my fear of spiders. So I put my underwear in the washer. Bye bye, spiders! It would not only wash away my fear, it would also wash away those devils! I only wish you were there to see the grin on my face when the suds washed my enemy away.

I no longer am afraid of the thing that haunts me in my sleep. My mind is now free of the spiders! Every time I see a spider, I’m prepared and ready to take action. Into the washer each spider must go, one after another, day and night. Now they're just a speck in my everyday life!

(Click here to print/view Morgan and six other sixth graders' stories.)


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