Standard Lesson

Our Community: Creating ABC Books as Assessment

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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As students study the theme of community, they collect vocabulary words and key concepts. Students first talk about their community and then craft a definition of community. Students then examine several examples of the alphabet book genre, and a variety of print and online texts. With the information they've found, students create alphabet books—individually, in small groups, or as a whole class—using an online tool. Their books relate each letter of the alphabet with a fact, keyword or phrase from their research, providing both an artifact that can be used to teach others about the subject and a demonstration of the knowledge gained in the unit that can be used for assessment. This lesson plan focuses on the theme of community, but the idea can be adapted for any unit of study.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

It is critical that our classroom libraries include expository texts, in addition to the typical narrative books. As Moss et. al. state, "Information trade books can help to fill the need for clearly written exposition that even the youngest readers can understand. Written by authors experienced in making the most complex concepts comprehensible, they offer children the opportunity to explore the real world. Writing in response to information texts, moreover, can provide an even more powerful means for enhancing children's understanding of expository texts" (420). Informational ABC books are an excellent resource to add because of their familiar structures. Expository ABC books "provide another excellent model for text innovations since children are often exposed to alphabet books at an early age. The textual structure, then, is comfortable and easily understood. Such books are easy to compile and offer a format with which children of all ability levels can experience success" (426). Using information ABC books as a framing text, then, can help guide students through a research project and related writing.

Further Reading

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

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 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).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 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.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 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

  • Bookmarked Websites from the local community or state

  • Books published on the local community or state, if available

  • Brochures, booklets, pamphlets, fliers and newspapers from the community

  • Field trips, speakers, field experiences, activities, etc. to explore and learn about the topic of study

  • Chart paper or board and markers




  • Choose an area of inquiry—this unit uses "community" as the theme, but the activity can be adapted for any area of study. Plan the exploration of the theme—assemble the resources needed, plan the activities, field trips, speakers, field experiences, and so forth.

  • Provide examples of alphabet books so that students can review the genre and its organization.

  • Assemble the writing materials listed above for students to use as they record vocabulary words and key concepts and create their ABC Book.

  • Post the self-assessment and make copies of the form for each student.

  • Make copies of ABC organizer for all students, or make a transparency to share with the class.

  • Test the Alphabet Organizer on your computers and download the Alphabet Organizer mobile app to familiarize yourself with the tool.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • engage in inquiries about their community.

  • explore the genre of ABC books.

  • work cooperatively with others (partners or groups).

  • skim and scan print and online resources.

  • brainstorm keywords and facts on a given topic.

  • contribute ideas, collaboratively compose, and publish an ABC Book.

  • research a specific topic of inquiry.

  • assess their work and habits.

Session One

  1. Ask students to talk about their community:

    • Where is it located?

    • Who is part of our community?

    • What buildings or places are here?

    • What makes our community special or unique?

    • How is our community the same as others? How is it different?
  2. Working together, craft a definition of community. For comparison, the definition from is “the people who live in a particular place or region and usually are linked by some common interests.”

  3. Write the class definition on the board or chart paper.

  4. Ask students to discuss and expand the definition, and record their ideas on chart paper or the board.

  5. Explain that the class will be composing an ABC book based upon what they found in the recent unit on community (or the topic you’ve chosen).

  6. Help students review several alphabet books, so they are well acquainted with the genre and structure.

  7. Working together as a class plan the structure for the book:

    • In a kindergarten classroom, this would be a class book.

    • A first grade class might want to make books in small groups of 5-6 students.

    • A second grade class could choose to make individual books.

  8. Explain that their ABC Book will be a way to teach what they learn to someone else, their audience.

  9. Discuss the concept of an audience, and help students think of different groups that might enjoy reading the book when they get it finished. Use students’ suggesions to make a list of possible audiences.

  10. Help students select the audience for the book, and decide how the book will be designed for that audience.

  11. Share the self-assessment form and discuss how students will evaluate their progress by referring to the form and by completing the form at the end of the unit.

Session Two

  1. Arrange students in pairs or small groups.

  2. Explain that students will to examine texts in the classroom and online. As they explore texts, they will look for keywords and phrases related to their unit of study.

  3. While reading texts in the classroom, ask groups of students to follow these guidelines:

    • Read with a partner.

    • Talk about the information while you read.

    • Look for interesting information.

    • Don’t worry about reading the whole book.

    • Change books when you want, but do more reading than looking for books.
  4. While reading texts online, ask students to:

    • Work with a group.

    • Explore at least one Website.

    • Look for interesting information.

    • Talk with your group about information you find.
  5. Divide the groups of students so that some of them are looking though books while the others are working online. They will be looking for information, keywords, or facts related to the topic of study.

  6. As students are working, circulate to ask questions about what they are finding.

  7. After about twenty minutes, reverse the groups, and give students another twenty minutes to explore books and Websites, again circulating to ask questions.

  8. As a whole group, invite students to share some things they learned about their community while they were investigating.

  9. Record students’ comments on the board or on chart paper. They may include a vocabulary log of keywords or a list of important facts (key concepts).

  10. When all of the students have had a chance to share, ask the class the following question: "How can we categorize, or group, the things you mentioned?" Some suggestions may be:

    • people, places and things

    • who, what, where, when

    • nouns, verbs, adjectives

    • inside, outside

  11. Record their ideas on chart paper or the board. This organization will aid in the creation of the alphabet book, which begins in the next session.

Session Three

  1. At the beginning of this session, review the charts or lists of keywords and facts from the previous sessions.

  2. Share the sample ABC Organizer, and discuss how it fits the goal for this session.

  3. Ask students to arrange the items from their lists alphabetically under the 26 letters of the alphabet. Explain that some letters may have lots of items, and some may have none at all. The Yellow Pages from the telephone book can be a great resource for more challenging letters.

  4. Encourage students to think of other items that would be helpful information to add under the various letters.

  5. Ask them to work cooperatively to organize their ideas. The process should include explaining, supporting, justifying, and defending their choices.

  6. As they work, urge students to try the following:

    • Choose the words and ideas that are most important.

    • Find words and ideas that can be stated in other ways (so that they could be placed under different letters of the alphabet).

    • Add words that fit into categories to fill out the chart.

    • Pay attention to the ways that ideas are worded.

    • Share the pen as words and ideas are grouped under each of the letters of the alphabet.

    • Brainstorm new ideas so that important words or ideas are included under each of the letters.

    • Be creative: Xx could stand for "Xwalk" for "Crosswalk".

  7. If students are typing their information in the Alphabet Organizer, demonstrate how students can use the printouts from the tool:

    • The "chart" printing option makes it easy to see what letters have been used and which still need ideas underneath them because the layout displays the alphabet and the various entries on a page.

    • The "letter pages" is helpful for dividing up the task and for revising and editing entries for each of the individual letters. This layout can also be used for a final copy with illustrations drawn in later.
  8. Students continue through the steps of the writing process, making rough drafts and revising. As they work, urge students to try the following:

    • Discuss which words and ideas to include in the book and how to phrase the ideas.

    • Refine word choice and the flow of the phrases.

    • Reword ideas and phrases to make them more fluent, or as one student said: “to make them like a poem.”

    • Share the pen with the teacher and other students to record revisions.

  9. Remind students to check themselves daily on the self-assessment form and to reflect on how they are working. Additionally, it can be beneficial to reflect together as a class about what it means to listen to other's ideas or how it looks and sounds when we are being kind, polite, and taking turns.

Session Four

  1. After all of the letters have keywords, facts, or phrases recorded under them, have students work together, publishing their information using the Alphabet Organizer.

  2. As a class or with group members, choose the publishing option in the Alphabet Organizer:

    • Alphabet Chart with one word per letter.

    • Alphabet Chart with more than word per letter.

    • Alphabet Chart with one word per letter, and related notes.

  3. As a class, decide how to publish the information you have gathered by answering the following questions:

    • Are the ABC Books going to remain a class project, or will students work in groups, in pairs, or individually?

      • Kindergartners might make this book as a class book.

      • First graders might create books as small cooperative groups.

      • Second graders might make individual books or work in pairs to create their books.

    • How will the information be recorded so it is clear to the audience why ideas are placed under certain letters of the alphabet?

      • Encourage students to keep their audience in mind as they write and draw.

      • One option is to record only a single word or highlight the keyword. This is how the example is organized.

    • How much information will be recorded so that the audience learns about your topic?

      • Options include listing single words, phrases, a sentence, several sentences, or a paragraph.

    • Will you use illustrations and/or photographs as part of your book? (How will that task be divided up so that everyone has a part?)

  4. Once these decisions are made, ask students to complete their ABC Book by revisiting their work, polishing their word choice, refining the fluency of the words, editing for conventions, and so forth.

  5. When the Alphabet Book are finished, have students print their completed books to publish their work.

  6. Arrange for students to share their ABC books with their audience.

    • Display the book at conferences or Open House to share the work with family and friends.

    • Place the book in the classroom library, so that students can check out the books and share them with family members and friends, especially younger children.

Session Five

  1. Help students complete their self-assessments. Conference with the students or groups of students. Together reflect on the process and the finished product and what was learned.

  2. As a whole class, reflect together on selected questions from those listed in the Student Assessment section.

  3. This is a time to celebrate all their hard work and enjoy the finished book!


  • Ask students with more experience or who need more of a challenge to alphabetize the keywords or facts within each letter. So, instead of listing automotive repair, ambulance service, and apartments, those words would be entered in alphabetical order: ambulance service, apartments, and automotive repair.

  • Enhance the unit with walking field trips, bus trips, and guest speakers. Students can see and hear firsthand more about their community.

  • Use the online Community Alphabet Book to create a dictionary of students’ facts and keywords.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Assess the learning and skills demonstrated by the students as they work on the project (the process) as well as evaluating the finished book. Ask students to assess and correct their work and behaviors as they are working on the project since self-assessment forms are posted prior to the start of the project. The learning targets should be clear to the students.

Provide a Reflection Time for students to discuss the project and share observations. Questions for reflection might include the following:

  • What did you learn about __________ (topic)?

  • What did you learn by making the ABC book?

  • What went well as you worked on the book?

  • What didn't work well or needed more work?

  • What would you do differently next time?

  • How do you think your audience liked your book? Explain why you think so.

  • Was there any part of the book that they didn't understand? If so, how could you make that part better?

  • Would you change anything that you did in the book? Explain.

  • Was this a good project?

  • Would you like to make another alphabet book at a different time on another topic?


Kelly Johnson
K-12 Teacher
Hi! I was just emailing to thank you so much for the awesome alphabet list link! I teach a first grade inclusion class and this was a really awesome and engaging tool to help us make a then and now alphabet book for our past and present unit. Thank you soooo much!
Kelly Johnson
K-12 Teacher
Hi! I was just emailing to thank you so much for the awesome alphabet list link! I teach a first grade inclusion class and this was a really awesome and engaging tool to help us make a then and now alphabet book for our past and present unit. Thank you soooo much!
Kelly Johnson
K-12 Teacher
Hi! I was just emailing to thank you so much for the awesome alphabet list link! I teach a first grade inclusion class and this was a really awesome and engaging tool to help us make a then and now alphabet book for our past and present unit. Thank you soooo much!

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