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A Suggestion for Units on Writing Narratives/Memoirs
Teaching students to write about their own memories? Here's a mentor text suggestion:

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Here's an idea from a fellow teacher:

Memoirs about Food and Kitchens

This review/activity was generously shared with us by Nevada teacher
Lisa Smith
during an
NNWP-sponsored inservice class

on narrative and memoir.

There are many marvelous "mentor texts" that can be used when teaching a unit on narrative or memoir. The review of the book, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech, and the activity on this page were written by a Nevada teacher during an in-service class for teachers sponsored by the Northern Nevada Writing Project.

Are you a fan of WritingFix? Use this link to purchase Granny Torrelli Makes Soup from and WritingFix will receive a small donation to help us continue posting free-to-use resources.

Washoe County teachers, click here to search for this title at the county library.

Two Book Reviews & an Activity Suggestion:

Sharon Creech’s book Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, (Guided Reading level R, Interest Level Grades 3-5+) uses the bonding activity of food preparation and sharing two meals as the setting where twelve-year-old Rosie shares with her Granny reflections about the highs and lows in her friendship with Bailey. In turn, Rosie learns great perspective about relationships in regards to friendship, jealousy, and forgiveness from her Granny as she carefully shares with Rosie stories about friendships she had as a young girl in Italy and the results of choices she made those many years ago.

Teaching Application Idea (Voice and Using Details): Strong memories and emotions are often associated with food and all students can relate to this topic readily and effortlessly. Writing about a strong memory that includes food, a universal connection for all people, provides a great avenue for detailed, descriptive writing because of the myriads of possibilities for five senses descriptions -- the tastes, the smells, the sounds, the actual hands on preparation, etc.

Build Background / Lesson Set Up:

- Get students thinking about food in whatever way you want to:


  • Pictures of foods
  • Ask - What does your family traditionally eat on name a holiday?
  • Have students quickly write the first word that comes to their mind when you say words like: sour, sweet, chocolatey, microwave, bitter, delicious, salty, fruity, baked, roasted, fried, frozen, sticky, etc.

- Show the book and mention how the Granny in this story helps her granddaughter make soup and pasta from scratch. Discuss what “from scratch” means (combining ingredients yourself rather than purchasing food ready-to-eat)


- Have students brainstorm a list of their most favorite foods prepared in their or a family member’s home and who in their family usually prepares it. (Step 1 - first two columns of graphic organizer)

- Using the book as a motivator to get students thinking even deeper about food memories, I suggest reading pages 9-14.

Set up the story by explaining that Bailey is Rosie’s best friend – they have been neighbors and close friends since they were tiny – and they are experiencing growing pains with their friendship as twelve year olds. Granny is spending time with Rosie while her parents are both at work and the two of them set to work preparing their supper. While dicing, boiling, stirring and eventually eating, the characters engage in enlightening conversation that creates great connections between these two characters.

- After reading the selection from mentor text, have students look back over their list of favorite foods they wrote previously and now add more details (Step 2 on Graphic organizer) so as to draw out specific memories associated with those home prepared foods.

- Students are now given time to write about one of their foods and its associated memory, writing that hopefully will be filled with voice as well as descriptive, sensory details.

Possibility for extension: Invite students to bring in a sample of the food they wrote about to share with the class on the day they will be sharing their writing with groups or whole class.

Brainstorming Graphic Organizer Idea: (enlarge if needed)

Step 1
Step 2


prepares it?
Additional details: Served at special occasions? Holiday or other special memories associated with this food? Do you ever help someone make this food? Any funny embarrassing situations/experiences while preparing, serving, or eating this food? Emotions associated with this food? Could think about: How?, Where?, When?, Who?, What?, Why?


Looking for complete writing lessons based on chapter books? Have you seen WritingFix's Chapter Books as Mentor Texts Collection?

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