This author’s purpose anchor chart and free activity will help your third and fourth grade students understand that authors begin with a purpose in mind and construct their texts to best suit that purpose. And it’s way more fun than PIE.
Free Author’s Purpose Anchor Chart
I like to compare authors to architects to help students understand how and why authors make the choices they do about their texts. You’ll see this in both the author’s purpose anchor chart and the free activity I use with third graders. They are best used together to help the kids fully wrap their heads around the concept.
Free Author’s Purpose Activity
This concrete activity is perfect for introducing the concept alongside your author’s purpose anchor chart. (That’s why they’re included together in the freebie.)
Don’t worry if you’re here because you’ve already introduced the topic but your students are struggling. This is a great way to reteach it in a way the kids will understand. Get ready to see some light bulbs go off.
The Authors are Architects Free Activity
All you need for this author’s purpose activity is:
- A few decks of cards,
- A water bottle, and
- This freebie
- Divide the students up into groups of about 4 to 5. Give each a deck (or part of a deck depending on your supply) and some tape.
- Explain to the groups, “Today, you are going to be architects. You are going to construct a building using playing cards and tape.” Give them no further explanation for it. They get to work together to create whatever building they like.
- Give them your desired amount of time, five to ten minutes tops.
- Once time is up, have the students stop building. (You may want to give them some warnings as time runs out to give them a heads up.)
- Then say, “What I didn’t tell you before is that the purpose of these buildings is to hold a water bottle without falling. Let’s see whose building holds up.”
- Walk to each group and test the buildings by placing the water bottle on top. Most will likely fall under the weight of the water.
- Ask, “Would it have been helpful to know the purpose of your building before you began constructing it? Would knowing the purpose of your building cause you to make different decisions about the way you constructed it?”
- Explain, “An architect makes choices about the design of a building based on its intended purpose. For example, a school is built for the purpose of educating students, a hospital for the purpose of healing the sick and wounded, and a house for the purpose of providing shelter and comfort for a family. These buildings are designed in very different ways because they all have different purposes.”
- Collect all the cards and tape.
- Either pass out the student handout for students to complete as a mini interactive author’s purpose anchor chart with your or have students gather at the carpet to recreate the handout as an enlarged author’s purpose anchor chart. I like to have the students glue the handout into their interactive notebooks to use as a reference and create a larger author’s purpose anchor chart simultaneously for the wall. (See the finished example below.)
- Explain, “Authors are like architects. Just like an architect designs a building to fit its purpose, an author also builds his/her text with a purpose in mind. They start with the purpose of the text and make choices about the genre, structure, text, word choice, and features to help him/her achieve that purpose.”