Sign Up for the Toolbox Newsletter

What’s in a Name? Author’s Craft Lesson

A lesson using picture book Elwood Bigfoot by Jill Esbaum


What? I used this “making friends” story to break the ice in a new school setting as well as to introduce reading and writing strategies, like predicting, summarizing, word choice.

Why? We study author’s craft: Authors use specific, perfect words when writing a story.

How? We used the picture book as a read aloud the first couple days of school.  I stopped in the middle, we predicted based on words used in the text as well as information found in the illustrations, and afterward, I summarized the rest of the story. We identified some main messages of the story: Making friends can be difficult.  Be yourself.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.



We worked in small groups to brainstorm an answer to the question, “Why do you think the author used “Elwood Bigfoot” as the character’s name?”

Lastly, we wrote about our own names in our journals.  Why were you named _____?  What is the meaning of your name? Do you like your name? Does it fit you?




Reflection: The kids got to know each other a little bit and we made a point of how hard it is to make friends sometimes.  And, we discussed the traits of a good friend.  What a great way to start the year.  we sparked some creative thinking in the discussions.  I’m amazed at the background knowledge some of these kids have-who knew Bigfoot smells like skunk and wet dog? Ha Ha!  I learned more about my new students by reading their journal entry about their own name.  Some went home that night and asked their parents.  I LOVE when I hear that the kids go home and have thoughtful conversations about what they’re doing in school!




Children's Author and Educator

More to Explore