Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about biography. It is designed to complement the Biography topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Help your children develop their research and writing skills. Writing a biography is a great opportunity for them to build their knowledge and explore subjects and people that interest them. It also allows children to share their work and teach others about a person who is important to them.

Remind your children that a biography is a book that tells about a person’s life. This is different from autobiography or memoir, which are pieces of personal writing about oneself. Biographies are nonfiction, which means they are about real people and actual events and places. Review a few biographies you have read together and discuss. Who were the biographies about? Why were the biographies interesting? Help your children understand that biographies can be about famous people in history or about people who are alive today. They can even be about people they know, such as a friend, parent, or grandparent. Biographies tell about someone’s life and have a beginning, middle, and end. Explain that when they are writing a biography, it is important that they choose a person that they’re interested in exploring. A lot of time will be spent researching the subject’s life, so children should find someone that inspires them or someone they’re curious about, including artists, government leaders, scientists, and relatives.

Before researching, children should think of questions they want to ask about their subject. They can write a list or use a graphic organizer such as KWL chart or a 5 W’s chart. Who is the person? What accomplishments did the person make in his or her life? Why is the person important? How did he or she change the world or affect others? We recommend choosing a subject together and brainstorming questions.

The next step is to research. Remind children that when they research, they gather information about a topic. They can visit the library and look up different resources including books, newspaper and magazine articles, reference books, and even documentary films about their subject. Encourage children to draw from a variety of resources. They can also go on the Internet to research and gather more information. Video sites may have archival footage of their subjects, and image searches can show pictures or illustrations related to their topics. Remind children to take notes as they research.

Now they are ready to start writing a rough draft. Children may want to use their notes to create an outline to organize their ideas. Then they can start writing. Many children will list facts about a subject, without really getting across a thorough picture. Remind children to explain why their subject is important or exciting. Make sure they include details that form a clear picture of the subject, and not just list the person’s history. You may want to practice writing a biography together. First list facts, and then go back and revise. Add specific details that make the subject come to life. Remind children that they should proofread their work for mistakes in grammar, usage, and punctuation. Watch out for run-on sentences and make sure they use descriptive words and powerful verbs. Some children may want to add photographs or pictures to their biographies or create a cover.

Biographies are fun to read, and even more fun to write! They foster children’s natural curiosities and help them become passionate readers and writers. Encourage your children to share their work and ask questions about each other’s work. This will give them an opportunity to learn about new people and find new heroes and role models.