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Sense of Place: Geography #4: Travel Writing, Visit Our School!

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, we build on last week’s idea of creating a piece of work that highlights the students’ understanding of new places.  However, instead of creating an artistic piece of work, students will combine their efforts to create a written piece.  Using travel guide books and local travel brochures as samples, students will write a travel guide to their school convincing others to come, visit, and perhaps even stay!  Students will be journalists for a day as their ideas about their own learning spaces coalesce into publication-worthy travel brochures.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

4 and above


Working in small groups, students will create a travel brochure highlighting the features, services, and people of their school.  (AASL 2.16: “Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.”)

Suggested Time:

50-55 minutes

Success Criteria:

Students will work in small groups to create a travel brochure for their school.  Highlighting areas, services, people, and programs that they feel are noteworthy, students will use their persuasive writing skills to highlight the school’s most attractive features.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that in the last lesson they looked briefly at travel guide books.  As a review, travel guide books usually draw the reader’s attention to:

  • Sights and attractions
  • Famous architecture including bridges, fountains, skyscrapers, churches, or monuments
  • Shopping venues
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Parks
  • Entertainment or leisure venues

Today, explain to the students that they won’t be creating a piece of art for a book, but a piece of writing, just like those who write travel books.  Today, the students become travel journalists!

However, schools don’t have restaurants, and schools don’t have hotels!  Ask the students what a travel brochure for a school might include.  Possible responses:

  • Sports facilities
  • Musical instruments, concert hall, rehearsal rooms
  • Playgrounds!! (Everyone’s favorite)
  • Murals and distinctive artwork
  • Gardens or school greenhouse
  • Nurse or counselor offices
  • Secretary and principal offices
  • Cafeteria or kitchens
  • Favorite teachers or staff
  • Technology center and libraries

Scribe this list where children can see it.

2. Main:

Ask each student to choose ONE area of the school from the list about which to write.  It is important that not everyone write on the same topic!  Organize the activity so that no more than three children write on the same section of the school.  This way, you can later assemble their work into a brochure promoting the school, and there will be enough variety to keep it interesting.

If the students do not know how to compose a short paragraph, teach them the structure of a paragraph so that they can write one that has:

  1. An introductory sentence.  (Example:  GWA has an awesome library!)
  2. At least three distinct pieces of evidence to support the claim in the introduction.  (Example: In the library, you can choose from hundreds of comics.  There are art books for those who want to learn to draw and cookbooks for kids who like to make dinner at home.  Also, you can do your own book scanning at the student check-out station!)
  3. A conclusion.  (Example: The library is one of the best parts of our school. Stop by soon!)

Completed Sample Paragraph:

GWA has an awesome library!  In the library, you can choose from hundreds of comics.  There are art books for those who want to learn to draw and cookbooks for kids who like to make dinner at home.  Also, you can do your own book scanning at the student check-out station!  The library is one of the best parts of our school.  Stop by soon!

Once the children have completed their paragraphs, if there is time, give them equipment and send them off to take pictures of the people or places they have just written about.  This way, when the work is published, it can be published with photos.

3. Conclusion:

Bring the students back together.  Have a few of them share what they have written with the class.  Explain that, before the next lesson, you will group their work into collections to make school-themed travel brochures.

  1. A collection of travel guide books or country books, whichever you can easily pull from your collection.
  2. A collection of travel brochures, preferably local, which will show the students that it is easy to highlight places without having to write an entire book. The local tourist information office or visitor’s center should be able to supply you with these, or you might be able to download them from the web.  Samples might include:
  • Theme Parks
  • County, State, or National Parks
  • Public Libraries
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Walking Tours, Culinary Tours, Trolley Tours
  • Landmarks, Historical Sites
  • Special Events Such as Winter Wonderland or Autumn Corn Maze
  1. Blank paper, lined paper.
  2. Pencils, pens. (No erasers!!!)

I have designed this lesson around the idea of writing a travel brochure for your school.  However, you could adapt it for younger students to write about their classroom.  A classroom’s brochure content might feature the reading corner or classroom library, hand washing station, cubbies, art area, dress-up or play areas, working spaces including tables and chairs, teacher and assistant spaces, media and technology.  The concept works equally well for a classroom as it does for a school.

The project could also be adapted for a group of children that wanted to focus just on the sports program and facilities, or just on the art program and facilities.  Encourage the children to follow their interests as long as there is enough varied content to support the travel brochure idea.

Because you typically only have one period, do not look for a finished product.  Expect the kids to complete a draft which, if you or the teacher choose, could be refined into a finished product.  The emphasis here should be on the content, recording ideas that would promote the school to someone who knows nothing about it.  Content, not product!  You’ll need to collaborate with the classroom teacher on this.  Quite often, I find that teachers want to continue with the writing projects I start.  Sometimes they design their own writing tasks to get the children to reflect on or explain the work we do.  So, be sure to talk to your teachers to make sure that the writing component of this project is well integrated.

Finally, if your kids have done a lot of writing lately, this lesson could also be adapted to be a travel documentary (video) instead of a travel brochure.  Using technology, especially Adobe Spark, children could photograph their favorite areas of the school and then record a simple script to go with the photos.

In my experience, children can talk forever, but when asked to write, many of them grind to a halt.  Encourage them to “talk on paper” (aka write).  For students with learning differences, use a recording device so that their ideas can be captured through speech.  But, this is the only writing lesson in the unit, so I would try to stick with writing if possible.

Recommended books for this lesson: 

A collection of travel guides from your library collection or public library. They are usually available in these series:  Let’s Go, Lonely Planet, Insight Guides, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Travel, DK Top 10, Marco Polo, Rick Steves, and Fodor’s.  (Use the same ones you used in the last lesson.)

Key Terms:

Travel Journalism, Persuasive Writing, Sight Seeing, Brochures