Writing realistic fiction is a perfect step from the unit of study of personal narrative. However, it is a new unit of study for many primary classrooms. To begin this unit, it might help to give the students structure to follow. Writing this genre is new, so the students will need to have the teacher modeling and doing a shared story with the entire class, in order to get the idea of how to begin writing. To do that, I will be sharing an idea for a day-by-day lesson plan to go with this unit. This is something that I saw done in a fourth grade classroom while I was studying under Carl Anderson with the All Write mentors. Here is how it goes:
Reading LOTS of fiction during reading time, is a MUST for this unit. Doing read-alouds with realistic fiction and discussing the idea of problem/solution is so important.
Day One--- Come up with a character for the whole class. Choose the sex, size, name, other features (hair color, eye color, type of clothes, etc) and draw it on chart paper. Now go deeper with the character. What does s/he like to do? Does s/he like to play sports? What does s/he do in spare time? Now think about what s/he feel about things. What does s/he love? What food? Have pets? Personality...caring? bossy? shy? bold? I suggest putting thought bubbles for the feelings and thinking and a heart to enter the character's favorite things. After doing this as a class....the children do this on their own.
Day Two---You will be coming up with people who are important to your character. Do this again with the class character first. Make a list of people who are important. List names: 5 family members, 3 friends, 3 other important people like teachers, coaches, neighbors. After doing this as a class...children do this on their own.
Day Three--You will be working on the setting for the story today. Think about where your character will spend MOST of their time...maybe their bedroom, the playground, grandma's house, the football field...Close your eyes and see it. Really get specific with colors and details. Now you will draw a map of it on chart paper. After doing this as a class...children do this on their own.
Day Four---You should now know your character REALLY well, kind of like your best friend. You will come up with a problem for your character today. Think about things that the character liked...what could be a problem with that? If they like football, would they have a problem getting on the team? Does the character have an older sibling that could give them trouble? Write a few problems for your class character on chart paper. Pick a problem and come up with a few solutions...remember, you will need more than one way to solve it so the story gets interesting. After you have done this as a class...children will do it on their own.
Day Five--???: Now you will do normal writing mini lessons such as: good leads, using a story arc, the power of sound, using dialogue, show not tell, good endings. Let your students' writing direct your lessons.
Hopefully, this will help as you travel through this new adventure of writing realistic fiction!