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Learn All Year Long

Kids and teens should read and write even when they are out of school. Why is this so important?

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Telling My Story: Make a Bio-Cube


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Telling My Story: Make a Bio-Cube

Grades 3 – 5
Activity Time 20 to 30 minutes to create and construct the cube, plus time to write and discuss
Publisher International Literacy Association

What You Need

Here's What To Do

More Ideas To Try



What You Need

  • Computer with Internet access and printer

  • Online Bio-Cube tool and planning sheet

  • Scissors and tape or glue stick

  • Autobiographies to share as examples

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Here's What To Do

Before beginning this activity, visit the online Bio-Cube tool. Check out and print the planning sheet to preview the types of information that the tool will request. There are six categories—one for each side of the cube. Create a Bio-Cube for yourself, and use it to write an autobiographical paragraph so you can share in the fun later.

You might also want to get some autobiographies that you can look at together. A few suggested books include:

  • Thoughts, Pictures, and Words by Karla Kuskin (R.C. Owen, 1995)

  • Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life by Mae Jemison (Scholastic, 2003)

  • I Am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins (Puffin, 1999)

  • Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief with Rosemary Wells (Viking, 1999)

  • Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin (HarperCollins, 2005)

The American Library Association has some suggested books at Telling Their Own Stories. You can also find suggestions at Parent Guide to Book Genres: Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir. Or you can ask the children’s librarian at your local library to help you find books.

1. Start by talking about autobiographies and how they explore one person’s experience. Remind the child that a biography is a book an author writes about another person. In an autobiography, the author is writing about his or her own life story. If you have a few examples of autobiographies, look at them together; you can also talk about similar books that either you or the child has read. Talk about what kinds of details authors usually share in an autobiography.

2. Introduce the Bio-Cube tool by sharing the printout of the planning sheet. Explain that the tool can help the child get ready to write an autobiography. Also share that the Bio-Cube is an actual cube the child will construct. (You might show the one you made without going into detail about what you wrote.)


Help the child fill out the planning sheet, with these tips in mind:

  • Person’s name, time period, and place: Time and place could be as vague as “the 21st Century on Earth” or as exact as the child wants to make it.

  • Personal background: Suggestions include where and when the child was born, places the child has lived, plus other family information.

  • Personality traits: Recommend descriptive words such as courageous, caring, or talkative.

  • Significance: Encourage the child to list an important accomplishment, such as volunteering, being kind to an animal, or winning an athletic or academic award.

  • Biggest obstacle: Suggest that the child share challenges he or she overcame, such as an illness, injury, or a problem like shyness.

  • Important quotation: What is the child’s favorite saying or rule to live by? Does the child have a catchphrase?
4. Once the planning sheet is complete, guide the child to enter responses in the online Bio-Cube tool. The child does not have to enter exactly what was written; encourage him or her to revise by either adding more detail or shortening sentences as necessary.

5. Help the child print the Bio-Cube and then demonstrate how to cut and fold the paper into a cube shape.

6. Time to trade cubes! Share your cubes and take turns reading them aloud. If you are working with a group of children, let them trade cubes first. Ask questions about the different categories on the cube and what things you would like to know more about.

7. Have the child use the cube to write a paragraph about him- or herself. Remind the child that when writing he or she is following the same steps an author would when writing an autobiography. Encourage the child to use additional details to plump up the paragraph by asking questions or pointing out the things you would like to know more about.

8. Take turns reading your paragraphs aloud. Talk about what you learned about each other.

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More Ideas To Try

  • Put a new twist on this activity by having the child use the Bio-Cube as a planner for an illustrated autobiography. Encourage the child to complete the Bio-Cube in visual ways. An athletic child can draw a picture of herself kicking a soccer ball into the goal. A humorous child can draw himself telling jokes that have his friends rolling on the floor in laughter.

  • Trade cubes with the child and use the information to write one paragraph about each other. If you are working with more than one child, let the children trade cubes first. Then, let them use your cube to write about you.

Visit the Bio-Cube page for more information about this tool.

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The fact-based account of a person’s life story, told by him- or herself.



A step in the process of writing something when the person who is writing makes changes to words and ideas. Revising can include adding, changing, or removing words and responding to comments from other readers.

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