Writing Strong Leads

Teaching kids to write strong beginnings to their personal narratives has always been challenging.  And then I found this Uh-mazing anchor chart on Pinterest:

Turns out it is from one of my favorite blogs!  Stephanie at Third Grade Thoughts wrote about using her chart here.  She wrote about it way back in March before I started following her.  Thank you for posting exactly what I needed 7 months before I even needed it!

I made my own copycat anchor chart.

The first day I introduced the strategies, modeled with the story I had written in class recently, and then sent them off to practice three with the story they had just finished.

The next day, we had a little fun with it.  They got with a partner and wrote three leads for this small moment story:

You are standing in line about to get on a 

GIGANTIC roller coaster.

Here are some of my favorites:
•The screams of the riders on the roller coaster filled my ears.
•Screams filled the air.  Suddenly, I was not so sure I wanted to get on the roller coaster.
•Trembling with fear, I'm standing in line and hear the man say, "Next up." 

and my very favorite (from one of my reluctant writers, no less!)
•"Step right up! This is the best and scariest ride you've ever been on!" shouted the announcer.  

Now our anchor chart is in a place of honor and I can expect a great lead for all of our personal narrative from here on out!

Big thanks, Stephanie!


  1. How perfect to see this post, I was planning a lesson this week about leads for our personal narrative writing piece! I love this idea of giving the kids the prompt about the roller coaster and brainstorming three sample leads. I am going to do that. Thanks!

  2. Wow, a pin party? Going to check it out, thanks for the awesome poster & tips. I love writing, & narratives are tough!
    Amy Howbert

    Little Miss Organized

  3. This is great information! Thanks for sharing! My HOOKS anchor chart should now be updated :)

    Always A Lesson

  4. Great anchor charts! Thanks for sharing! Such an important skill to get our kiddos away from the 'One sunny day..." starters!

    Lovin' your blog!!

    Second Grade Sparkle

  5. Ok, so almost 2 years later I run across this post which is perfect for the lesson I was planning for today. I used your anchor chart and then my student groups wrote their sentences on the 11" x 11" post-it notes. Thank you so much for the idea!!!

  6. Perfect! I'm teaching lead types today. Thanks for the great idea!