Standard Lesson

Alphabetizing With Original Stories

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 20- to 40-minute sessions
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This lesson challenges students to write original stories using alphabetical order. For students who are still developing a basic understanding of alphabetization, the entire class can write one story, beginning each page with a new letter. Challenge more advanced students to write their own stories or to compose the words in each sentence in alphabetical order. Students can illustrate their texts in class or at home with their families. Although this lesson was primarily written for a first- or second-grade class, modifications can be made to allow kindergarten students to have success with alphabetizing as well.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Alphabetizing is essential for students to be able to use reference materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and telephone directories.

  • Alphabetizing is a skill that is typically confined to writing or worksheet activities.

  • Students enjoy alphabetizing environmental print word cards because the materials are colorful and meaningful to students.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Appropriate writing instruments

  • Illustration materials (e.g., crayons, markers, scissors, glue, collage materials)

  • Legal-sized paper or half-sheets of poster board (max. of 13 per student/group)

  • Sentence strips or strips of cardstock measuring approx. 2"x11" (max. of 26 strips per student/group)

  • Student computers with Internet access and print capability



Note: Students should already be familiar with alphabetical order prior to this lesson. This lesson offers continued practice with the concept.

1. This lesson provides leveled instruction in alphabetization for basic, intermediate, and advanced students. Decide which students will complete the different tasks based on their ability levels. For the purposes of this lesson, ability levels are defined as follows:
  • Basic: Knows the alphabet, but has difficulty placing objects in alphabetical order and composing sentences independently

  • Intermediate: Somewhat familiar with alphabetical order, but needs practice composing sentences

  • Advanced: Familiar with alphabetical order and sentence composition; needs to be challenged before obtaining mastery of alphabetical order
Basic-level students should work as a group, while intermediate and advanced students can work individually.

2. Decide how many sentence strips or book pages each student or group of students will need, as well as the size of the alphabet book pages (either legal-size paper or half-poster size). Gather all other materials from the Resources section as needed.

3. Bookmark the Alphabet Organizer on your classroom computers or download the Alphabet Organizer mobile app onto your tablet devices.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Build a better understanding of alphabetical order through multiple exposures to the concept in one cohesive experience

  • Practice their alphabetizing skills by creating either an individual or class book that demonstrates words in alphabetical order

Instructions & Activities

Explain to students that they will be creating books that demonstrate words in alphabetical order. Remind students of a previous lesson that you conducted on alphabetical order to further introduce the topic. The From Theory to Practice article contains additional resources that may also be useful for introductory purposes.

Session 1

1. Introduce the Alphabet Organizer to students and ask them to select the first option that allows for more than one word per letter. Tell students that they will use the Alphabet Organizer to create word lists.

2. Instruct students to list any words they can think of that begin with each letter. Provide a focal point for this brainstorming session in any way you choose. For example, you might ask groups of students to write specific words, so that three students are thinking of action words, while three are thinking of describing words, and so on. Alternately, you could ask all students to think of words that relate to a class field trip, the playground, or a favorite book. It is recommended that basic-level students all work on the same topic.

3. After allowing students time to write their own word lists, ask students to share words with the class for each letter of the alphabet and create a class word list.

4. Have students print their word lists to have available during the writing session.

Session 2

1. Explain to students that they will use their word lists to create alphabet books. Begin by referring students to the word list that the class created, which you have either posted on the blackboard or copied onto paper and distributed to each student.

2. Show an example of the task. For advanced students, demonstrate how to compose a sentence with each word in alphabetical order.

A baby cried, "dada," each Friday. Granted, he inched just...."

For basic- and intermediate-level students, demonstrate how to begin each sentence with the next letter.

"Alphabet stories are fun.
Bobby is writing about beetles.
Cassie is writing about cats...."

Basic-level students should work together as a group to compose one book, while intermediate students can compose their books individually.

3. Explain that the word lists created during the brainstorming session are to be used as guides only. Students are free to use any words they like when writing their sentences.

4. Hand out paper to students. Give sentence strips to each student (cardstock strips also work well) and ask them to write their entire alphabet story on the strips. For the basic and intermediate options, use one strip for each sentence. For the advanced option, the number of strips is irrelevant, as their sentences may be lengthier than those of less-experienced students.

5. Challenge your advanced students to cut each word apart from their sentence. In the example above, one card would say A, while the next would say baby, and so on. In this way, they will have to alphabetize their words again as they glue them in place in the book.

Session 3

1. Provide sheets of paper or poster board for students-one for every two sentences written (students will use the front and back sides). For basic- and intermediate-level students, 13 sheets will be needed; for advanced students, fewer sheets will be needed.

2. Ask students to alphabetize their sentence strips and word cards from the writing session.

3. Have students glue one sentence onto each side of the page.

4. Invite students to illustrate their alphabet stories using any medium you prefer. Crayons or markers work well, but collages of magazine pictures or construction paper might also be a consideration. Remind students to use the pictures to help their stories make sense, rather than just drawing out their sentences.


  • Ask students to line up in alphabetical order when walking to another activity or class. Students can line up by last name or first name.

  • When reading new texts, make cards with character names on them. Allow each student to draw a picture for one character. Not only can roles be assigned to act out the story using these cards, but students can also use them for alphabetizing tasks.

  • If the classroom has learning centers:
  • Ask pairs of students to help clean up the book center by alphabetizing books on the shelves by title. For more advanced students, have them alphabetize by the author's last name.

  • Use items in a dramatic play center, such as cereal boxes and cans, for students to practice alphabetizing. Be sure to show students both vertical and horizontal ways to alphabetize.
  • Place a photograph of each student on a nametag or magnet. Allow students to organize their own pictures or names in alphabetical order on the chalkboard or on a desk.

Student Assessment / Reflections

The assessment tools provided with this lesson are only samples. Please modify them as necessary to match the skill levels of your students.

  • Formal assessment. Use the Alphabetical Stories Rubric to assess each student's book or individual page in the group book.

  • Anecdotal notes. Use a seating chart or grid of student names to keep a record of which students were most challenged at each portion of the lesson. This can also be used to keep a record of students who particularly enjoyed or disliked a portion of the lesson, in order to assess the accuracy of the student personal reflections. A sample Student Grid Assessment is provided.

  • Peer assessment. Provide access to students' alphabet books in the classroom library, and place copies of the Alphabetical Story Review nearby. Allow students to "rate" their peers' books, providing suggestions or justification for their ratings. Provide a "locking" mailbox for students to submit their reviews to you. You can then compile the best comments and provide students with anonymous feedback on their alphabet books.

  • Student reflection. Have students write or dictate a brief reflection on what they liked and disliked about the lesson process. If they felt that the task was hard, ask them to explain which step was most difficult and why.

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