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Biographies & Autobiographies

Compiled By: Mrs. G

These are fun projects to do for biographies or autobiographies.

Auto Biographies
Posted by: SRH

A teacher in our school did this project with our Gifted/Talented kids and it worked great. Each student had to bring in pictures from various eras of their life. First, they created a Life Map (timeline) of their life. Then, they used the pictures and information from the Life Maps to create a brochure about their life. On the front, they put their most recent picture. The title was, "The Life and Times of ..." Inside, they started with infancy and carried it through until today. They listed accomplishments, interests, and etc. It was a fresh take on Auto Bios. I suppose this could work for Biographies, too. The students could create their own Life Maps and bring in pictures. You could assign each student a partner to interview and create a brochure or Bio. about that person's life. I hope this helps. Let me know how it works, if you choose to try it.

Garbage Bag Biographies
Posted by: Joanne

Last year I had my students, who were very bright, read biographies and bring in a garbage bag full of items that represented/symbolized the person they read about. I was so impressed and amazed with the thought that went into this project, many of the students completed two just because they wanted to!!! For example, some of the things they brought in were: a candle because Florence Nightingale was a vigilant person, a soccer ball for Majorie Stoneman Douglas because she achieved her goals, an Energizer battery, because she kept going, and going, and going. They had to briefly give an oral summary about their person, then share the garbage bag. They loved it. I hope this helps.

Pizza Box Biographies
Posted by: Priscilla

These are some steps for creating a pizza box biography:

1. Students should take notes about a famous person. In their notes they should be able to come up with basic facts about the famous person.
When born, where lived, when died etc. They should also find six important accomplishments, inventions, contributions, events etc. that the person was associated with. Be sure to include years. For example: President Franklin Roosevelt was involved with the Depression, the New Deal, WWII etc. So it doesn't necessarily mean that students should include only single events. Some events occur over a period of years.

2. Younger students can write up the notes as six sentences that will be typed and displayed inside the top of the pizza box. Older students can use paragraph form.

3. Decorate the inside top of the box with some kind of background decoration that has to do with the historical figure the student is depicting. Example: The inside top cover of Walt Disney's biography box could be decorated with Mickey Mouse wrapping paper. Teddy Roosevelt's could have an Adirondack Mountain theme etc. The typed facts or paragraph is placed on this background.

4. Make six pizza slices to place in the bottom of the box. Use your imagination for what to make the slices out of. It could be tag board, poster board, fun foam etc. Each pizza slice needs to have a three dimensional clue that goes with the six sentences displayed on the inside top cover. For example: One of Henry Ford's slices could have a small model of a Ford car on it. Werner von Braun's could have a small rocket on one slice. (I call these "A slice of their life")

5. The boxes are displayed with the lid open and there is no decoration used on the outside of the box.

6. The directions can be modified to the grade level or subject you're working with.

7. This idea appeared in an Oasis magazine about 10-15 years ago. I think this is what you might have been looking for. Hope it helps.

Posted by: kelly

A friend I teach with had his students read a biography of a famous person. He then had the students trace their bodies on white butcher paper. They had to design the person to look like the famous person they researched.They colored them and cut them out. The students did a report on this person and the placed the report in the hands on their drawing. (They were told to draw the hands to make it look like the person was holding a book.) He hung these "famous people" in the hallway and needless to say they were a big hit!! It was fun to guess who the person was before reading the report. You could also hang these up around the classroom and save on some decorating for a while!

Another cool idea would be to have each student decorate a 2 litre soda bottle to look like the famous person they researched. Then, have the report about the person written on large index cards that would stand in front of the bottle to display both.

Posted by: Robin

David Adler has done a great series called A Picture Book of...We have used many of them, but he has done Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, among others. He also may have done Frederick Douglass, and I know he has done Martin Luther King. You can probably find enough African Americans for Black History Month, and enough women to use for Women's History Month in March. My kids read these in literature study and then did biography poems about their person to teach others. I also like Minty by Jerry Pinkney about Harriet Tubman, and Faith Ringgold's Dinner at Aunt Connie's. That book introduces some lesser-known African American women, and the children can research for further facts.

Interviews and biographies
Posted by: missd

This project can be as simple or as involved as you want to make it. With our buddies, we had the older students develop interview questions to ask their younger buddies. (They were paired 1 to 1.) When they got together, the older students conducted the interviews and tried to gain as much information about the younger student as they could. The older students then wrote a biography about their younger buddies. The next time they got together, they went through the biography with their buddies and edited them. (It was cute to see the younger students helping to edit the older students' writing.) On the next visit together, both older and younger students illustrated the biography.

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Posted by: Amy J

I have done a cereal box book report with my students. The students read a biography and designed their cereal box to include a Wheaties like picture of the person. On the back, students wrote about the person. For the nutrition facts, they included the "ingredients" of the person which was their character traits. On other parts of the box, the students used their creativity to add fun facts about the person.

I recommend using an actual cereal box and covering it with construction paper. Then students should type or write on light colored paper and glue it on the construction paper background.

Posted by: carol

We take a digital camera picture of each student (blown up to almost full size). They cut out their face and glue it to the top of a white piece of construction paper. They then draw the rest of the famous person's body and add facts they learned about him or her. They always turn out really cute.

Living Wax Museum
Posted by: StephR

For the wax museum, I first had my kids research a famous, yet imaginative person in history (this went along with our Open Court Unit and the unit project of Biography) The kids chose people like Claude Monet, Henry Ford, Duke Ellington and the like. They researched them, wrote their biographies, etc. Then, to present their findings, the kids wrote a one paragraph "summary" of the person's life in the 1st person point of view. On the day of the museum (today!), the kids dressed up as that person, stood still as a statue, and had a poster of their name and a "button" (just a red circle) people could push. The kids from other classes came by, pushed the button, and my students "came to life" and recited the speech, as if they were a wax statue at a museum. When they were done, they just stopped in the same position the began in, just as an animatronic statue would. It was great! The kids were really into the "statue" idea and did a wonderful job. I hope I did a good enough job explaining it to you! (I will have pictures on our website soon of it if you need a visual!!)

Also... you can do this:
Posted by: Monique

This last year my students researched famous or not so famous people on the internet by getting either biographies from designated sites (Scholastic or or information posted about individuals by use of search engines. Then they did their own bio poems about themselves. Once they were finished, they did a biography poem about the individual that they studied. They inserted information that the bio poem asked and were able to tell that they are not so different from the people they researched. After all the project was done they were able to do an art project by placing both poems on construction paper of their choice. They then found pictures of the people they researched. They cut those out and pasted them near the biography poem. I, then, took digital pictures of the students and had them place them by their own bio poems. It turned out great. You can do this during "Black History Month", "Women History Month", or any time of year to acknowledge important people in our lives.
It was good hard work, but very fun indeed. :o)

Book Report Ideas
Posted by: Judy

To start, have your class read biographies this month. Then, instruct them to transform their pumpkin into the person they learned you have "pumpkin-ogrophies". I did this last year, and the response from parents and teachers was overwhelming.

You can have your students write a report as well including why this person was famous; what things happened in this person's childhood that helped them become a famous person; list four important dates in this person's life and write why each was important; explain how their famous person was affected by others in their lives; what questions would you like to ask...etc.

It's a fun-start...There are many other ideas that can correlate wtih the traditional book report in order to know the student did indeed read the book

Bio-folder & more
Posted by: Mrs.G-IA

For our unit on biographies my students do bio-folder projects. They have a file folder which they designed like a book about their individual. They create a timeline about their lives, a poem sharing what made that person incredible, along with a portrait. Then they create a pipecleaner model of their individual. Last year I added a bio-cube to the project using the bio-cube maker from ReadWriteThink. My kids really seem to enjoy it as they get to express their information in a variety of ways rather than just a written report.

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Posted by: Caren

I had my assistant make cube patterns out of poster board (these make a 3-d cube or box). The students had instructions of what to write on each side of the cube:
1. name, birthdate, deathdate
2. what the person was famous for
3. they glued a picture of their person
4. something they found interesting that they didn't know
5. important facts
6. I think on this side, we listed our resources.

It gave the kids something concrete to hold and handle. They love it. At the end of the unit, they shared their cubes and we hung them from clothes hangins to display.

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Posted by: Mandy

Another teacher shared this book with me and I loved it. I am doing a mini unit on autobiographies and we have been reading this aloud as an example. What we have done is write our own autobiographies. We made this a short ad simple writing assignment using a graphic organizer. Another teacher shared this idea and I really liked it. Then the students will create a "nounster" (like monster). They will write the nounsters autobiography (this is a good time to talk about point of view) and the organizer i gave them was almost identical to the organizer they had used with the autobiography. They are writing about description, hobbies, family and job, I think. Then they will create their nounster with construction paper and tissue paper and felt and so on. Then we will identify nouns they used in their writing (this is where the noun part came from!!). I thought this activity lent itself to the season very well. Hope this helps!!

Posted by: mm

I tried the ABC Autoboigraphy in my class this year and they were great! What I did was made one page for each letter of the alphabet. It statred like this....

A is for __________________________

and my third graders filled in what A stood for, but it had to be relevant to their life! They then added a sentence or two at the bottom of the page describing it in detail. Then in the middle of the page, they had to illustrate it. It took a long time for my third graders to get this done, but it was something they worked on when they finished their morning work or test early. I had to model my ABC Autobiography too. I modeled many, many, many times so that they understood that the letter had to be relevant to them! My book started out...

A is for Artichokes.

They are my favorite vegetables that I eat on pizza.

Then I drew a pizza with artichokes in colored pencils and markers. Then moved onto the next page. i had to really enforce that I did not just pick any old word to fit A. I think if I were to have done it with an older class, it might have been a bit easier. Good Luck!

memoirs ?
Posted by: Dedi

My students completed a similar activity when I student taught in 5th grade. Their final project during May and June was to write a biography of their elementary school years, with a page for each grade level-- similar to what Carolyn spoke about. We showed them a variety of examples from past years' classes, but otherwise let them apply their own "creative juices." The only requirement was a 2 page spread for each grade with at least a paragraph about that year. We gave them a list of leading questions and suggested add-ons (i.e. photos, drawings, work samples), but otherwise it was pretty open-ended. Parents and students shared some good memories working together on this project, and the results were spectacular! This school has a big fifth grade graduation in the last week of school, and we set out all of the autobiographies on long tables in one room for visitors to read-- they had a ball, and the children were so proud of their work! Good luck with whatever you decide to do!