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Lesson Plan

Q is for Duck: Using Alphabet Books With Struggling Writers

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Q is for Duck: Using Alphabet Books With Struggling Writers

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 40- to 60-minute sessions, plus time for students to create their own alphabet books
Lesson Author

Nancy Drew

Tecumseh, Ontario


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Think alphabet books are just for kindergarten? Think again! In this lesson, students examine a variety of alphabet books, some with rather complex structures, specifically Mary Elting and Michael Folsom's Q Is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing Game. Students begin the lesson with a read-aloud of the story in which they guess why the authors chose to represent each letter with a particular word and then summarize the pattern of the book. Using "patterned" or "structured" writing can be very effective with struggling writers, and it also allows advanced students to extend their writing capabilities. Students use the pattern of Q Is for Duck to create their own class alphabet book in which students make clever associations for each letter of the alphabet. This experience will assist even the most reluctant writer in becoming an author.

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Alphabet Organizer: Students can use this interactive site to organize their alphabet books.

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Chaney, J.H. (1993). Alphabet books: Resources for learning. The Reading Teacher, 47(2), 96–104.

  • Because of their characteristics, alphabet books can be viewed as efficient and effective instructional books.

  • Most 8- to 11-year-old students have a well-developed schema for alphabetical order and can use what they know about this format in prediction activities.

  • Varying degrees of content complexity help make alphabet books usable with a wide range of age groups.

  • The unique structure of alphabet books makes them particularly appealing to the reluctant or at-risk reader who might be intimidated initially by the density of print in textbooks, magazine articles, or other types of trade books.


Allen, J. (2000). Yellow brick roads: Shared and guided paths to independent reading 4–12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

  • For many student writers, patterned writing can be their first successful writing experience.

  • Patterns help struggling writers generate text in depth and breadth in ways they never accomplished in the past.

  • Patterned writing is a mediated step between teacher dependence and independent choice of ideas and forms.

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