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3-5: A Circular Journey To Imaginative Narrative Writing

by Sharon MacKenzie, Learn NC

This lesson will help the teacher show students how to bring their imaginative narratives to a logical ending. Students often have difficulty while writing imaginative narratives. They tend to get off to a good beginning and then cannot maintain focus well enough to bring their story to an end. Two well-known stories will be used as effective models. The first story will be analyzed by the whole class and the second will be used in an individual hands-on practice activity. Finally, students will summarize what they have learned and how they can use this information when they write an imaginative narrative.

A lesson plan for Grades 3–4 English Language Arts

Learning outcomes

The student will learn that an imaginative narrative can be a circular journey. He/She will be able to identify characters that appeared in the real and the imaginative parts of a story. The student will be able to define a circular journey and explain how to use that format in his/her own writing.

Time required for lesson: 45 minutes


1. The Wizard of Oz, Modern Publishing, ISBN 0-87449-883-X (Or any other version)

2. Jack and the Beanstalk, Rigby:Reed Publishing ISBN 0-7312-1045-X (Or any other version)

3. Prepared Question Transparency (Attachment)

4. Prepared “Wizard of Oz” transparency (Attachment)

5. Prepared “Beginning, Middle, End” transparency(Attachment)

6. Construction Paper (11 × 14) One per student. Folded in thirds so that there are three columns. Each column should be labeled: “Real – Imaginary – Real”

7. Word Sheet One (Attachment) One for teacher.

8. Teacher Model (Attachment)

9. Word Sheet Two (Attachment): One per student and one for a model.

10. Standard Envelope (Legal size) One per student.

11. Glue Sticks: One per student

12. Student Reflection Sheets (Attachment): One per student.

Technology resources

  • Overhead Projector
  • Projector Screen


Students will need to know the difference between a personal and an imaginative narrative and possibly have attempted writing an imaginative narrative.


Before the Lesson

1. Prepare materials, both teacher and student. (Transparencies and student materials)Copy Word Sheet Two so that there are enough copies for all students. Cut the words apart and place in legal size envelopes (One per student).

2. Prepare models of both sorting activities. (Wizard of Oz and Jack and the Beanstalk) Use words from Word Sheets One and Two. Use the Teacher Model as your model for assembly.

Beginning of the Lesson

3. When you begin this lesson, have the Question Transparency (Attachment) on the overhead. Cover the second question and have students generate their own definitions for a circular journey. Then uncover the second question and have them speculate on how they might use the same format to write their own imaginative narrative.

4. Explain to students that today they will be looking at two examples of circular journies and will be noticing a similar pattern in those stories that will help them in their own writing. Explain that you will be reading a story to them and they are to listen for characters that appear in the real part of the story and for those that appear in the imaginative part and for those that might appear in both parts. They will also need to listen for the vehicle that takes the characters into the imaginary part and the vehicle that takes them back into the real part. You will be filling in a chart (Wizard Transparency – Attachment) on which they will dictate items and characters when you are finished reading.

5. Read “The Wizard of Oz” to the students.Place the Wizard Transparency (Attachment) on the overhead. Have students name all of the characters, or items, that appeared in the beginning, or real part, of the story. Have students determine the vehicle that takes them to the imaginative part (tornado). Write this vehicle halfway between the Real and the Imaginary sections. Then have students do the same for characters, or items, that appeared in the imaginative part. Have students identify the vehicle that carries them back to the real part (shoes) and write this word halfway between the imaginary and the last real portion of the transparency. Then add to the section labeled “real” at the end. There will be some who appear in all three parts. As you discuss the fact that this story starts in the real, then goes to the imaginative, then comes back to the real, you can place the BME Transparency (Attachment) on top of the Wizard Transparency (Attachment) and explain that these three divisions can be your divisions for an imaginative narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end. (Students will be fascinated by the appearance of the new words!)

6. Introduce the next activity by saying:

“Now I will read another story to you and you will apply the same principles to this story in an individual sorting activity”

7. Read “Jack and the Beanstalk” aloud to students.

8. Have students place their piece of construction paper on their desk along with the envelope containing all of the items and characters in the story. Explain that they will be sorting all of the words into the real, or imaginative category for this story. They will place them in the proper column and then glue them into place.

9. Show students the Teacher Model (Attachment) using the words from “The Wizard of Oz”, Word Sheet One, on the same type of construction paper.

10. While students work, circulate and prompt for proper placement when necessary.

11. Upon completion, show your completed model for “Jack and the Beanstalk” and read the words in each column.

12. As a summary, put the Question Transparency back on the overhead and have volunteers answer the same two questions orally.

13. Have students then complete the Reflection Sheet (Attachment) as a part of your assessment.

14. As a follow-up activity, students could be given a prompt such as:

“You are shopping in the mall and see a rocking chair on display. You sit in it to rest and something strange happens. Write about what happens when you sit in the chair.”

The teacher can remind students to use the “Real – Imaginary – Real” format and write an imaginary narrative. The teacher will be able to observe whether or not students can apply concepts that they learned during the this lesson. The teacher can focus primarily on whether or not the students use the beginning, middle, end format in order to bring their story to an effective ending.


As soon as the independent practice is completed and any corrections have been made to the word sort sheets, the teacher can have students fill out the Reflection Sheet. This sheet should show the student’s ability to define a circular journey and explain that he/she can use this type of journey to plan imaginative narratives so that they stay focused and progress logically with a strong beginning, middle, and end. (Attachment – Reflection Sheet)


  • Question Transparency
  • Wizard Transparency
  • BME Transparency
  • Word Sheet One
  • Word Sheet Two
  • Reflection Sheet

Click here for all attachments.


This activity was adapted from a Charlotte Mecklenburg In-service Session which talked about ways to improve narrative writing instruction. It was presented by Pan Allen (CMS – Curriculum and Instruction).

Fourth grade students were asked to write an imaginative narrative that very year and there was a marked improvement in the organization of all papers.

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