Empowering Writers

Lesson of the Month: December 2017

It’s hard to believe the holidays are upon us! During this time of year, students become excited about all the many activities going on in and outside of school. It can be a challenge to keep them engaged and on task! Try an entertaining suspense lesson featuring an encounter with the infamous Abominable Snowman or Yeti!

December Lesson of the Month:

Suspense lessons are particularly fun for our students. This month, practice the Magic of Three with the revelation, “I found myself peering up into the beady eyes of the Yeti.” Students will practice their elaboration & suspense skills, inference techniques, and genre study.


After reading several expository and narrative books, review The Magic of Three (pp. 216-219, 248 in the Comprehensive Narrative Guide). Create a sensory chart and model the piece for your students. They will then create their own Magic of Three suspenseful segment. If you want to add a layer of creativity, have them complete an art activity with it.

Possible books to use:

  • Don’t Wake the Yeti by Claire Freeman
  • Dear Yeti by James Kwan
  • No Yeti Yet by Mary Ann Fraser
  • Beastly Tales; Yeti, Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster by Malcolm Yorke
  • Investigating the Abominable Snowman and Other Legendary Beasts by Britannica

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. First, share the book(s). Discuss some of the sensory examples in the books related to the Yeti. Create a sensory chart with students’ input.
  2. Review the template for The Magic of Three and explain that the revelation will be, “I found myself peering into the beady eyes of the Yeti.” Using the ideas from sensory chart, fill in the template and then write the Magic of Three. Don’t forget to elicit red flag words or phrases, hints, and descriptive language from the students! Use sentence starters to help with sentence variety, and have them help you revise as necessary.
  3. Once the modeled segment is complete, students will write their own Magic of Three suspenseful piece.

Sentence Starters:

I couldn’t believe my eyes, ________________________.

I stared ________________.

Listening closely, _________________.

I wrinkled my nose when I the scent of ___________________.

A gasped escaped my lips as _______________.

Slowly, _______________.

Red Flag Words:

A moment later… Before I knew it… In an instant…

In the blink of an eye… Just as I realized… The next thing I knew…

A second later… Suddenly… To my surprise…

To my surprise… Without warning… Out of the blue…

Modeled Segment:

I trekked through the snowy path. Suddenly, I heard a strange grumbling sound coming through the powdered treetops. I stopped and cautiously observed the area around the trees. “What in the world could that be?” I whispered. Only the soft blowing of the wind could be heard, so I continued my hike through the forest. The next thing I knew, a blur of white flashed though the wooded wilderness. It was too quick for me to get a good look at what it could be, but it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I decided it was definitely time to head back to the car. Quickly turning around, I darted back down the trail. A second later, a large looming shadow crossed my path. Slowly looking up, I found myself peering into the beady eyes of the Yeti.