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Lesson Plan

Reading and Writing About Whales Using Fiction and Nonfiction Texts

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Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Eight 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Soalt

Concord, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



From Theory to Practice



This lesson teaches first and second grade students how to formulate research questions and write letters. The lesson uses the nonfiction picture book Big Blue Whale by Nicola Davies to present factual information about blue whales and the fiction picture book Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James to demonstrate how a letter can be used to ask questions and foster inquiry about blue whales. Depending on the level of your students, whole class, small group, or individual letters about blue whales are then written, revised, and sent to an online scientist.

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LeVine, J.E. (2002). Writing letters to support literacy. The Reading Teacher, 56, 232234.

  • Letter writing can provide an especially empowering form of writing practice, as young children send meaningful written messages to one another, classroom mascots, pen pals, family members, and even elected officials.

  • The ultimate purpose of reading and writing is meaningful communication, and letter writing provides an authentic, reinforcing form of written communication.

  • In addition to supporting basic literacy skills, letter writing also promotes social interaction and develops a competence that children will use throughout their lives.

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