Lesson plan

Making It Real

Real-life connections are made in this realistic writing lesson. Students will explore differences between fantasy and realistic fiction, using trade books as a model for their own writing.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will be able to use mentor texts to construct original realistic fiction.
  • Students will be able to develop imagined experiences using realistic details.
(5 minutes)
  • Hold up both of the teacher modeling books and invite students to share observations about the covers. What do they notice? If they are familiar with the books, how do they see the plotlines reflected in the cover details?
  • Tell the students that they will be learning how to use mentor texts to write their own realistic fiction.
(20 minutes)
  • Show the students how you can find the word "real" inside the word "realistic."
  • Explain that realistic fiction includes stories that could possibly happen. However, fictional stories are imagined, and never really happened.
  • Read all or part of the story that is realistic fiction to the class.
  • Point out how the author used details that could actually happen in real life.
  • Show the students any unexpected details that are found in the story.
  • Invite students to reflect on what they heard and how the author crafted the story.
  • Next, read all or part of the story that is fantasy.
  • Point out parts of the story that could not really happen and how these parts could be changed into a detail that could happen. (For example, an author might describe a girl who flies through the air using her bare arms. This could not happen. The detail could be changed to be realistic if the author writes that the girl flies in an airplane.)
  • Model the process of brainstorming the various components of the realistic fiction narratives, including the characters, plot, setting, and any surprises.
(30 minutes)
  • Distribute a fairytale or fantasy trade book to each group.
  • Give the students time to read the book together and discuss elements that show fantasy, brainstorming how these parts could be changed into a detail that could happen.
  • Ask each group to create a visual that includes a plan for characters, a problem, plot, setting, and any surprises in a story that is realistic fiction.
  • Invite students to use the model text to craft their story or to plan a different story.
  • After all groups have finished, give each group the opportunity to share their work with the rest of the class.
  • Ask the remainder of the students to give feedback.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students to complete the worksheet Realistic Writing.
  • Circulate around the room to guide students in planning parts of the story that could actually happen.


  • If students need extra practice determining details that are realistic or imaginary, ask them to complete the worksheet Could It Happen?


  • Challenge your students to create two different versions of a story. One story should include elements of a fantasy while the other story should include elements of realistic fiction.
  • Instead of traditional writing in journals, give the students the opportunity to publish their writing online.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask the students to complete the worksheet Make It Realistic before planning their own realistic stories.
  • Circulate around the room and determine if students are able to generate realistic details that could fit into realistic fictional stories.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to participate in an "author’s corner," in which students individually share their ideas and writing.
  • Invite other students to identify specific parts of the story that are realistic.

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