Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about how to write about yourself. It is designed to complement the Writing About Yourself topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Children naturally draw from their own experiences and they begin to practice personal writing from an early age. Personal writing is any kind of writing about oneself and is considered nonfiction. Personal writing can come in the form of journals and diaries, letters, autobiographies, memoirs, and personal essays.

A diary or journal is a book where you write private thoughts, feelings, and ideas. A diary can include a description of what happened during the day, a list of goals, or a stream of consciousness about a problem. A diary does not have to follow a narrative form or even be written in complete sentences. A diary allows the writer to keep track of important events or write private thoughts about a particular problem. It’s important for your children to understand that in a diary, you can write whatever you want. Diaries are private and should be respected.

An autobiography is a book someone writes about himself or herself. Many children read autobiographies by historical figures, but it is crucial for them to understand that anyone can write an autobiography, not just famous figures. An autobiography follows a narrative form; there is a beginning, middle, and end. Autobiographies chronicle a person’s life, and in general they describe events in the order that they happened.

A memoir is a collection of personal essays or stories. A memoir does not have to follow a traditional narrative arc, though usually the stories build on themes explored throughout the book. The stories or essays in memoirs usually focus on and develop a specific event or moment and may jump around in time.

Personal writing requires specific details to bring the stories to life. Many children will write about one event after another without stopping to develop each event. Explain that details are pieces of information that support the main idea of their stories. We recommend watching the Main Idea movie together as a review. Details bring writing to life, draw readers into the stories, and help them understand the writer. Encourage your children to write with strong verbs and vivid adjectives. Personal writing is a great way for students to write with their senses.

One of the best ways to develop writing skills is to keep a daily diary or journal. Children will be able to keep track of important events in their lives, and also see how their writing changes over time.