Biography by Golly!

©2007 Nancy Polette

“Rehearsal before writing is essential!” Donald Graves
Warm Up: Coming to the Party
Each player takes the name of a famous person and says,
“My name is ___ and I am bringing (foods that begin with the same letters as the person’s name)
Ex: My name is Thomas Edison and I am bringing tomatoes and eggplant.

Warm Up: Here is My
Using a large trash bag the player must pantomime an object connected with a person so that the group can guess who the person is and what the object is. If the group has trouble guessing, initials can be given.
(M.P is holding an umbrella- Mary Poppins)

Elaborating on Biography Poems
Share: The Fighter Wore A Skirt by Nancy Polette
Elaborate and perform “Calamity Jane”.
Army scout, handy with a gun (5 Pows)
Pony Express rider when the war was won (3 hoorays!)
Deadwood to Custer, danger on the trail (3 lookouts)
Outlaws tried, but didn’t get the mail. (3 no ways)
Fast mount, quick shot, 100 mile ride. (3 giddy yaps)
Never lost a letter, would have hurt my pride. (3 for sures)
With positive opinions of what a gal can be
The nickname, yes!
It surely fits (pause)
My name’s CALAMITY! (1 YAHOO!)

Biography: The Start and the Finish
Each team receives a strip of paper with a beginning, middle and ending sentence. The teams have three minutes to think of scene that will fit the sentences. Each team tells its scene.
From:Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier by Jennifer Armstrong. Abrams, 2003.
1. He saw the ice covered with immense flocks of trumpeter swans.
2. But what was that slipping in and out of the shadows?
3. He could not wait to paint what he had seen!

Concert Reading: Read aloud the actual scene from the book with appropriate background music.

New Outstanding Picture Book Biographies
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer. HarperCollins, 2003

Invent a bedroom burglar alarm by using four or more: a bottle, ice cubes, a canon, a match, a pigeon, a cat, a 20# weight, rope, an umbrella, a bucket, a springboard.

George Washington’s Teeth by Deborah Chandra. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003.
Told in rollicking verse, this is a carefully researched account of what happened to George Washington’s teeth.
Activity: Write a rhyming song about a president.
Andrew Jackson Seventh President 1829-1837
Comin’ Round the Mountain
He was born in Carolina
Yes, he was.
Studied law in Tennessee
Yes, he did.
Killed another in a duel
For remarks made oh so cruel
Andrew Jackson was his name
Yes, it was.

Major General in the Army
Yes, he was.
Fought the War of 1812
Yes, he did.
Brought the British to defeat
With the help of Jean Laffite
And became the nation’s hero
Yes, he was.

Got the nickname of Old Hickory
Yes, he did.
Thought that all should do their duty
Yes, he did.
He became a White House resident
As the nation’s seventh president
And he served a second term
Yes, he did
(Walter J. Grade 6)

1. It has a beginning that speaks to the reader.
2. It tells WHO, WHEN and WHERE.
3. It reveals the person by what others say.
4. It shows difficulties that were overcome.
5. It is filled with action, revealing the character by WHAT the person does.
6. It tells of the person’s accomplishments.
7. It ends by referring to the beginning and/or asking a question.

Biography Reports: Primary
1. Sing to “London Bridge”
Mae Jemison was her name
Was her name, was her name
Traveling in space was her game
She was an astronaut!

The Important Report
The important thing about Mae Jemison was________. Then list 6-8 facts about her.
Repeat the first line.

Biography Reports: Gr 4-8
A. Fact and Fiction Book (Make a statement on one page, support or deny on the next.)

B. The Fortunately/Unfortunately Report(From Fortunately/Unfortunately by Remy Charlip)

C. Bio Poem: Name, Four traits, Related to, Who has, Who needs, Who fears, Who gives, Who would like to see, Resident of.

D. The Acrostic: Use each letter of the name as the first letter of a sentence about the person.

E. The Collective Biography

So You Want to Be President by Judith St. George. Illustrated by David Small. Philomel Books, 2000.
The author compares the Presidents of the United States by: Names, Birthplace, Size, Personality, Appearance, Pets, Musical ability, Athletic ability, Education, Military service, jobs.

F. Interview Report: Student answers questions pretending to be the famous person.

G. Mystery Person Report
10 clues. One must be a “give-away” clue.

H. The ABC Biography
Retell a person’s life in 26 sentences, each beginning with a letter of the alphabet.

I. That’s Good/That’s Bad Report

The Good and Bad Report
Thomas Edison was born in 1847. When Tom was seven he and entered school there.
Audience: That was good!
No, it was bad because his teachers thought he was dull. He dropped out of school in third grade.
Audience: That was bad!
Well, not really. He became a voracious reader and at age ten set up a laboratory in his basement.
Continue by using the pattern