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What’s The Purpose? 15 Activities to Reinforce the Author’s Purpose for Writing

Identifying an author’s purpose for writing can be a tricky skill for some students.  Help them out by providing opportunities to write in different ways.  The ideas below offer some quick and easy ways to reinforce the difference between writing to inform, entertain, and persuade.

Ideas for Writing to Inform

  • Write a letter telling about the routine of their day
  • Create a description of an item found in a catalogue or magazine…or in the classroom!
  • Make a brochure containing facts about a subject being studied (history, science, math, etc.)
  • Create a recipe and outline the steps needed to make the food
  • Write a news story about something happening in the school or the community

Ideas for Writing to Persuade

  • Create a radio advertisement encouraging people to buy a product
  • Write a speech encouraging people to vote for you for class president
  • Work with a partner and create a skit about a salesperson trying to sell a reluctant buyer something
  • Write an essay about something you would like to see changed and why it should get done
  • Write a review of a book encouraging someone to read it

Ideas for Writing to Entertain

  • Write a funny story
  • Create a joke book
  • Describe an event that made you laugh
  • Write a funny poem about an animal
  • Write a short story from the perspective of an inanimate object in the classroom (i.e. – the stapler, the dry erase markers, etc.)

What are some of your favorite writing lessons for students?  Leave a comment and share with us!

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52 comments
Website
Website

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Candace P.
Candace P.

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Tina Edgar
Tina Edgar

Thanks for these great ideas. There are many that I can use with even my Kindergarten writers. I find that some of the most fun and interesting writing that we do involve things like post cards, thank you's and advertisements. I enjoyed reading many of the comments.

Barbara G.
Barbara G.

So many creative ideas to help kids LOVE writing! To turn writing into service learning, we write and illustrate thinking-of-you cards and take them to the local pharmacy to be attached to prescriptions.

Becky Myerly
Becky Myerly

Thanks for this great teaching poster! Even the kindergarten and first grade students can relate to the picture of a pie, and can easily apply the information to their understanding!

Nevine Spicer
Nevine Spicer

I love the great ideas. When my daughter was four I used to give her a stack of pictures from one day's events. We would put them in the proper order in a photo album. I would have her tell me about each picture and I'd write what she said. As she matured, her stories became more sophisticated. mommyteaching.com

Brittney
Brittney

I once did a schema activity where students listened to "Don't Laugh At Me" while sketching and writing their reaction to the song. I also flipped through the ilustrations in the book while the song was playing. The song is about kids being made fun for many different reasons. I replayed the song multiple times during their writing. The kids were really able to connect to the characters being made fun of and many drew pictures of themselves being bullied and different speech bubbles of how it made them feel.

Joy
Joy

I refer to this poster all the time for both reading and writing. Thanks so much for all the wonderful ideas. I especially love Sheila's idea about having her 2nd graders write about her dog - I'm going to try something similar with my 2nd graders at the start of next school year!

Leslie
Leslie

"Easy as pie" is a wonderful way to teach this concept. Students can remember the author's purpose by using this helpful and entertaining acronym. Great ideas:-) Thanks for sharing.

Tonia McClanahan
Tonia McClanahan

When my fourth graders are having a hard time expressing themselves, I tell them to put a small object on the corner of their desk. This way they have "someone" to tell their story to, and can write down what they are thinking as they are telling it to their "someone" object. I find that when a student is having a hard time, they can tell me exactly what they want to put on paper. SOOO..... This way all the kids have "someone" to tell their story to and get their thoughts on paper more quickly than waiting for me to come to their desk.

Rhonda Guinn
Rhonda Guinn

Thanks for the ideas! I also gleaned many more ideas through the comments!! :)

Kristi Reichard
Kristi Reichard

I had my students write a commercial using propaganda. I wanted them to persuade me to buy their cereal. I think using a real world object in with a lesson is a great lesson.

Sarah
Sarah

I have PIE pieces laminated that I pass out to students. I also pass out different examples of persuasive, informative, and entertaining pieces. They have to find the partner that matches their piece. After they've identified the purpose, they use the same topic and write for a different purpose. (If they had an informative piece about whales, they would write an entertaining or persuasive piece about whales.) The students have to think about identifying and applying different purposes for writing.

Sabrina
Sabrina

I love this poster! It's a great visual for students. I've taught the "PIE" acronym before in reading, but I love the suggested writing topic ideas grouped by purpose in this article.

Sharon Royer
Sharon Royer

The poster is a good visual to reinforce this skill. will read more!

Therese
Therese

I think that it's very important for the teacher to model all of the purposes for writing and then to support students as they use the same crafts and formats with their own interesting ideas in their writing each day.

Cheryl Nelson
Cheryl Nelson

I have a bookbag loaded with a stuffed monkey, a journal, crayons and a pencil. The first grade children each get a turn to take the bag home for the weekend.He has to go everywhere with the student that weekend. Before they return to school on Monday, they must write a journal entry from the monkey's perspective.They then share their writing during morning meeting. He's been to dance class, airplanes, and even met a professional basketball player!

Crystal F.
Crystal F.

These are great ways to help the students write. We do a lot or writing in third grade and these will come in handy for next year. They are in my writing file idea folder. Thank you.

Kristy
Kristy

These are wonderful ideas to add everyone's bag of tricks. I often have students write letters and a special event, such as a field trip. The students enjoy this activity and it gives an opportunity to mix letter writting into other writing skills taught.

Kayla T.
Kayla T.

I like to teach fact and opinion right alongside authors purpose. Teaching that authors who are writing to inform use facts more than anything really helps students make those connections. We then talk about how opinions fuel a persuasive piece, but that facts are more convincing. We look at various advertisements and decide whether the author has used more facts and more opinions, and how effective the advertisement is as a result. This really helps them remember what persuasive texts look like. For entertaining pieces, we discuss the ways factual information and opinions can be used in a way that is entertaining. I take this as an opportunity to discuss with the students that using hurtful opinions in writing might be funny to some but won't be funny to the person or group of people that are being hurt. We read fiction picture books during this time and find facts and opinions in them and talk about why the author's purpose was to entertain.

Amber B.
Amber B.

One of my favorite writing assignments to have the students complete is writing to persuade. I teach them what it means to persuade their reader, and we go through the writing process together. Students choose a topic, and we write a letter to the principal trying to persuade her to allow the class to do something (with teacher guidance, of course!) Then the students can write letters of their own to someone of their choosing.

Brian
Brian

I give them mini-lessons and then they write in their journals.

Roberta
Roberta

Lots of great ideas! I can't wait to try some with my class next year!

Laurie Grider
Laurie Grider

I love all of these ideas! One thing I do to engage my students with persuasive writing is to select a topic very relevant to them. As 6th graders, they have lots of opinions (and of course theirs is always the right one!), so we

Krissy
Krissy

I bring goldfish crackers for a fun snack. Students then have to write about the fish in detail (inform), persuade someone to buy the fish, or entertain an audience with a story about the fish. They love the fun and filling visual that comes with this lesson.

MJ
MJ

We love writing DonorsChoose thank you notes!

Ashley Gemayel
Ashley Gemayel

What I love about this article is that is suggests ways to have children write for different purpose and through their own writing they learn the difference and therefore should be able to decide purpose for another author's writing. My first graders struggled with author's purpose this year, probably because we simply discussed the purpose and they were not able to apply it themselves. I did not make the clear connection between writing for enjoyment and an author writing for us to read for enjoyment. Love the ideas and I can not wait to put them into place next year!!!

Tara Lorson
Tara Lorson

I teach this concept to my students by having them act out a "commercial" in the front of the class. I choose an item from the room, take the student out in the hall, and assign them a purpose. When they return to the room after a few minutes to prepare they present their "commercial" to the class. The class decides whether it was informative, persuasive, or entertaining! They love this lesson and every student wants to get up and act out a purpose:)

Kristen
Kristen

I like this poster! I actually use PIE in my classroom for learning Author's Purpose. I made my own large "pie" and wrote these on it. Unfortunately it faded from being in the sun! I also have a sheet with 3 little pies on it and we write Persuade, Inform, Entertain on them. I always let them read short stories I have to see examples of these first. They read short stories and on a worksheet I made have to write which one it is (persuade, inform, entertain) and support with reasons why they know this is the authors purpose. After we see a few examples in print and are familiar with it, i let them try to write one of their own by picking P I or E out of a bag. After they write their piece, they read it to a partner and see if the partner can guess which one they did! The kids always remember PIE, its a great device!

Stacey
Stacey

This was helpful for me because my students this year dreaded writing. The ideas shared here were great for my teacher toolkit!

Morgan
Morgan

I have a difficult time with writing in my second grade classroom. We are always talking about Author's Purpose when we read our weekly stories. This is a great poster and it would be beneficial to have in the classroom.

Lori Archer
Lori Archer

I love the poster. I would be great way to introduce the types of writing to my students, K-1. It gives a great visual image and it will be really easy to remember.

Kristen
Kristen

Wow I love this poster. Author's purpose is a hard concept for kids. This is a great visual to help them remember the three purposes. I love the ideas for each wiring purpose as well. Writing is not the easiest thing to teach but products like this really help!

Amy
Amy

Ideas for Elementary Write to... Persuade by... convincing their parents that they must have a slumber party. Entertain by.. writing short skits and then perform for another class. Inform by creating...Powerpoint presentations on a science or social studies topic.

Robin White
Robin White

One of my favorite writing activities is to have students write letters of request to their parents. We always do this after the Christmas holidays so they aren't asking for presents. Students have to state their request, give at least 3 reasons why it is reasonable and then what they are willing to do or give up if the request is granted. The other part of the assignment is for the parents to write back and send it into the class. Every year I have almost 100% participation from parents! One year, I had a student ask her parents for a pet monkey and her dad responded with a very formal letter stating that they had already given her a monkey - in the form of her older brother! Of course some of the letters are asking for iPods, video games, etc. - but there are always some that will break your heart as kids are asking for more family time, one on one time, or simply for parents to stop arguing. It's a great way to open up some communication between parents and kids while teaching organization in writing and persuasion.

Sheila
Sheila

At the beginning of the year with 2nd graders we do the typical getting-to-know-you activities. As a part of this I tell them all about my dog, describing all the cute, sweet, funny things she does, but I leave out any reference to what kind of dog she is or what she looks like. Then I pass out drawing paper and ask each of them to draw me a picture of my dog. It's funny to watch different groups grapple with this problem. Some kids just go ahead and draw "any" dog, others will draw their own dog. I collect the papers and act very surprised that none of the pictures look like my dog! There's always someone who points out the fact that I didn't tell them what she looks like. So I'll say, "Oh, that's right. OK,she is brown." A few more of these revelations and they begin to see that it's important to use details, not only in their drawings, but we extend that idea to their writing.

Lori
Lori

What a great visual for students. I love reading the ideas others have shared...writing is a tough one to teach for me personally. Wish I knew of a way to make it really fun and interesting for students.

Deb Sherman
Deb Sherman

I love teaching writing and am always on the look out for new ideas. With the Common core standards having been adopted this year in my state, more opinion, reflective and persuasive writing will be required of students in all grades. But, two of my favorite pieces of writing this year that I did with my kids were "Secret" stories and magazine articles. We ended our personal narrative writing unit with writing "Secrets of Second Graders". It is amazing what funny, cute ideas and great supporting details they had to things that have happened to them that they have never told anyone! Our magazine articles were informative paragraphs on happenings throughout the year. I put those into a magazine on Publisher that kids got to keep as a Second Grade momento at the end of the year.

Judi
Judi

I teach 3rd grade. I teach persuasive writing in December. We use the Structures and persuasive language to persuade our family to get a particular gift. Students may also choose why a certain pet would be the best idea. I also send a note home apologizing for teaching their student to use their persuasive abilities.

Teresa
Teresa

I've used pictures to prompt writing before--anything from scenic pieces of our local area to those funny animal pictures you get in your email. The stories or informative pieces (like news articles) they come up with are wonderful! I also love having students choose a word or phrase out of a bucket and then have them craft a piece of their choosing based on that word or phrase. Last year a student wrote an entire persuasive piece on why socks should be respected and not simply discarded to the rag pile when their useful life is over. It was great :) I also enjoy using the literature that we read in reader's workshop as a springboard for their writing--take two characters who haven't met in the story and put them at a Starbucks table. What happens? Create a product that the characters in your story would find useful--write a script for a TV ad for it (including stage directions). We did a unit on autobiographies at the end of the year this year. I told the kids to choose an event in their lives that was a turning point--something significant. The beautiful pieces the kids wrote were so much more than I expected!! I'd expected things like the first day of school, or reading a book/seeing a movie, a family trip somewhere. One student wrote about her fleeting, yet important, relationship with a shape she drew on Doodle Day. Another wrote about his first baseball game. One wrote about when he realized that he wanted to study ecology and human impact on the environment (he's 9.) Another wrote about how his addiction to playing Halo has changed his life. One created a slideshow about Lego NXS (this is a child who had not completed an assignment ALL YEAR). And one chose to write (and share with the class voluntarily) how the sudden death of his father when he was very little has impacted his growth as a human being. I was absolutely amazed. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned this year is to allow what my students see as important to be the focus of their writing. When it's meaningful to them, they really get into it and write much better than they would if I had given them a random prompt (*cough* standardized tests) that meant nothing to them or to those things they value.

Malynda
Malynda

We review examples of each type of writing and create a sort of "sou-eee" call to P.I.E.E. They love calling out the author's purpose call! Students have also drawn a purpose and a random topic and written a story. For example, they may pull "to inform" and "Babysitting your brother" and then will write an informational piece on babysitting your brother. Another student might get this with "persuade" and have to persuade someone to babysit...it is a lot of fun to see the same topic written for different reasons. :)

Delores
Delores

I teach middle school and one of my favorite activities is the "Sock Activity". I pretend that I am an "alien" and gather the students around me and they have to tell me specifically how to put on a sock. I follow EXACTLY what they say. It can get quite funny! This teaches them that they have to be careful when they are writing informative pieces and giving directions. Afterward, they have to write about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in which I demonstrate EACH set of given directions. It's messy and fun and teaches informative writing.

Kelly
Kelly

It's difficult to fit in writing these days with such a strong push on math and reading. I am fortunate to at least have one big focus writing per month. I use a different area of focus and tie it in with a monthly theme. September is a narrative recap of their summer vacation. In October they have to do a descriptive writing of their favorite costume. In November, they do a structured writing of what they are thankful for and why. December is a winter trickster tale. January is another structured writing about resolutions and February is a persuasive about why someone should "like" or "love" something. March is a narrative about a time they were lucky or unlucky. In April, for preparation for Open House, the students have to create a persuasive dialogue and create a commercial for a fictional product. I think between that and the daily journal (for writing fluency) have helped create a good balance despite the lack of time.

Casey
Casey

We create videos for persuade, short stories to entertain, and news clips to inform. The kids love it!!

Crystal
Crystal

I have trouble getting some of my kids to write and be able to figure out what the authors purpose is. This gives me more ideas and things to try with them. I am creating a new unit for next year with writing and am going to use this to this to help my students. I am hoping that it will help motivate my students to write in different styles and assist them in identifing them. I really like the fact this poster is laminated, it is a big help. My favorite writing lesson is whem my kids free write, go through the writing steps (editing, proofing, etc.,) and end up creating a book that they are proud of.

Suzanne
Suzanne

I have shown a picture. Then, I have the students write three different stories based on the picture. One to inform, one to persuade and one to entertain. It is wonderful to see what their imaginations come up with.

Dana S
Dana S

This is one area my students struggle with. Thanks for the ideas!

Amelia Cook
Amelia Cook

I like to have a "round table" with my kids and talk to them their life and their interests and wants as well as their dislikes. My kids (especially my boys) like to be funny- so the kids like to come up with funny things they can write informative pieces on, persuade their parents to do something they like or don't like, and to create funny stories by pulling words out of a jar. Sitting with them on their level brings all sorts of great ideas out and helps those struggling writers as well.

Angela Nuxoll
Angela Nuxoll

I LOVE this poster. It gives the students a great visual and mnemonic device to remember.