Writing ABC Books with Upper Elementary Students


I love using ABC books with my upper elementary students.   I like the organization of them and the familiar patterns.  Some of the letters are easier to find ideas, and some push the students to think more deeply and creatively.  But the thing I LOVE about using alphabet books with upper elementary students is just how incredibly flexible they are.  You can create an ABC book for just about anything.

Pro Tip: If you're substitute teaching in an upper elementary class, this is a great activity.  You can prepare the materials ahead of time, even without knowing what the students are learning about, and adapt the activity by changing the content at the last minute.  Super engaging and super flexible!!




There are two main options for organizing Alphabet books with upper elementary students:
1. Students can each create their own.  This will require more content and time on the part of the students.
2. Students can each create one page to make a class ABC book.  This is quicker, and will provide a reference for your students for the rest of the year.
Note: If you have more than 26 students, repeat some of the more popular letters, like "S" and "T," or assign some students to do the cover, editing, write an introduction, or create a digital copy of the book.

Here are just a few ways you can use ABC books for those chaotic beginning/ end of the school year times:
-For back to school: each student can create and "All About Me" book as a get to know you activity.  Or, they can create one for a partner to introduce that person to the class.
-At the beginning of the year, students can create alphabet books of positive examples for character education, and then add to it throughout the year.  (Think: I is for integrity, with an example of a time someone in the class or a role model demonstrated integrity.)
-At the end of the year, students can create alphabet books as scrapbooks or memory books of what they have learned throughout the year.
-At the end of the year, students can also create "The ABCs of Fourth Grade" books, where they give life advice to next year's fourth graders.  The incoming students LOVE reading these on the first day of school!

And even more (Common Core aligned) ideas for using ABC books with upper elementary students:

For ELA:
-keep an ABC book of character traits in each student's reading folder/ binder.  They can add to the book throughout the year, or they can start a new one with each read aloud.
-create alphabet books of lessons/ morals/ themes that students come across in literature throughout the year.
-as spelling references or personal dictionaries
-create ABC books of linking, temporal, or transition words and phrases for writing
-as a place to store "juicy" words that students come across in their reading and learning.  They can then use their words as a source of inspiration when they are writing.   They can also do this for nonliteral language- keeping an alphabet book of similies, metaphors, idioms, and other figurative language.
-to study informational text features: students can draw diagrams, write labels, and add captions as they create a page for each letter of the alphabet.  They can choose a topic or create one for a topic the class is studying.
-create ABC books of ELA vocabulary: narrator, opinion, theme, revise, illustrator, etc.
-alphabet books are also a great place to store new vocabulary words- almost like a personal dictionary of new words for the students to review and try using
-create alphabet books of parts of speech: an ABC book of adverbs, for example

For math:
-make digital ABC books by taking photos of things that look like each letter- students can learn about angles by labeling the different types of angles in each letter.
-draw each letter as a block letter and draw the lines of symmetry for each one.  Bonus points if you can add rotational symmetry!
-make an alphabet book of math vocabulary to use as a reference all year long.

For content areas:
-as an alternative way to publish a research project- students can make an ABC book about their topic
-there are ABC books available about most cities/ countries.  Have the students read as many of them as possible, and then create an alphabet book about their hometown.






Happy (alphabet book) Teaching!!

Christine Cadalzo