4 Fun Ways to Teach Biographies

Biographies are fascinating to read at any age, but young children love hearing stories about real people. Learning about the lives of those who lived before them is intriguing. Biographies give kids a peek at what it’s like to be someone else and possibly live in a different time period than they do. Bringing biographies to life for your students can even help spark a love of reading! Are you excited about teaching biographies but feel a bit intimidated? I’ve got four fun, engaging ways for you to teach your students all about biographies!

Looking for fun and easy ways to teach biographies in your classroom this year? These amazing activities will help your students get the most out of learning about biographies.

Why Should You Teach Biographies?

Biographies are a fantastic way to introduce young students to important historical figures and teach them valuable life lessons. Biographies are windows into people’s lives who have made a difference in the world and can inspire kids to dream and reach for their goals. They help kids understand that the world is diverse and that not everyone is just like them.

Students can also learn empathy by reading about people’s experiences and challenges. They may feel really sorry for famous people they learn about. Students will start to understand what these individuals went through or see that they were treated poorly.

These worksheets are great for helping students get to know the person they will be writing the biography about when teaching biographies.

Biographies are the perfect complement to any Social Studies Unit or Thematic Unit! Students can relate to history more easily through personal stories because historical events are explained from the perspective of real people who lived through those times. Check out this blog post about how I use biographies to teach about Martin Luther King Jr.!

Now that we know why teaching biographies is important, let’s jump into HOW!

1. Introduce Students to Biographies with Read Alouds 

I can’t say enough about how much I love reading a good picture book to my students to stir up excitement for a lesson. Sharing a great biography is no exception! Start with a beautiful book like:

These books are the perfect introduction as you begin teaching biographies.

These books are incredible stories of perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Students see a glimpse of what life was like years before they were born and how things were very different! Did I mention the illustrations? They are gorgeous!

There are a million incredible biographies, so it can be tough to sift through them to find the perfect books for your students. Check out this post I wrote about my six favorite Biography Series! You will find plenty of biographies that fit right in with your next Social Studies Unit or for a Biography Unit!

Once you have finished sharing your biography read-aloud, ask your students to create a timeline of events in the person’s life from the book. In my Biography Student Reports resource, you will find two options for a print-and-go timeline: one with space for five events and one with space for seven events. Your high flyers will get a bit of a challenge identifying seven events, while your struggling students can still do the same activity focusing on five key events.

2. Conduct an Interview!

Want a fun way to get your students excited about biographies and writing one? Ask them to interview a friend in the class! You can allow students to choose a classmate they would like to interview or assign students to interview each other. Give students a list of questions to ask and 20 minutes or so to conduct their interviews.
Students can ask questions like:

  • Where were you born?
  • How many brothers or sisters do you have?
  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • What do you want to be when you’re older?
Use worksheets like these to help your students when they interview their classmates when creating their own biographies.
You could allow students to share what they learned in their interviews with the class or take this activity further by writing a biography about their friend! 
This type of project can take a bit of preparation on your part to keep it running smoothly. However, with my Biography Student Reports pack, this “interview and write a biography” activity is a breeze to incorporate into your classroom!
Included are 2 Student Interview Pages filled with interesting questions to get your kids talking! Plus, printable pages where students write the information they learned. They then piece the pages together to create a friend’s biography! Your students will love learning about each other and feel accomplished because they wrote a biography!

3. Research a Famous Person and Write About Their Life!

How can you ensure your students understand what biographies are and what information they include? Have them write a biography about a famous person! Yes, writing a biography can seem overwhelming- even for an adult, much less a student! It can definitely be done, but your students will need guidelines and support throughout the process.
Luckily, my Biography Student Reports resource includes Notes Pages that allow your students the freedom of choosing who they learn about while having questions that will guide them during their research! To help students include important information in their biographies, they will be asked questions like:
  • When was this person born? When did they die?
  • Describe this person as a child.
  • Did this person get married or have children?
  • How did this person contribute to society?
When teaching biographies, your students will be able to use biography student reports like these to help them organize information.
These pages have differentiated versions so students of all ability levels can participate in this activity. Each version has questions, but some are more specific and require more detail. This allows you to easily differentiate for your students and push some to think a little more deeply, while other students can answer the questions more broadly while still experiencing success!
A booklet with labeled pages is included so that students can practice transferring the information from their Notes Pages into an actual biography of their famous person! Your students will feel fulfilled when they finish their biographies and see all the hard work that went into that challenging (but fun!) project! 

4. Incorporate Art with Your Biographies!

Now that students have researched their famous person, learned interesting facts, and written those facts into a biography, let them celebrate with a little art project! The art project included in my Biographies Pack is the perfect way to allow students to show what they know in a different and creative way!
Using a piece of large construction paper and the directions in the pack, students will cut the paper in such a way as to create the shape of a body. Students will then fold the paper to make two flaps appear to be clothes, then add arms, hands, feet, and a head to the body shape.
Bring extra creativity to your lessons when you teach biographies with this fun and engaging activity.
Students will decorate their body shape to look like the famous person they researched (adding as many details as possible). They will take the biography book they wrote and glue it inside the clothes flap, making the cutest display for all of their hard work! 
I love displaying these in the hallway for other classes to see. You could even invite other classes to come by and have your students read their information out loud to their audience!

Would you like to try Biographies?

Your students will love learning about famous people from history, but sometimes you have to try things for yourself to see how awesome they are! Dip your toe into biographies with this incredible Biography Templates Freebie
Grab these free biography templates to help you teach biographies in your classroom.
Use these templates to help your students organize three facts they learned about important historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks, Henry Ford, and many more! This is a great way to ease your students into learning about biographies.

Let’s Teach Biographies! 

Introduce your students to biography research and make learning fun with this Biography Report and Research Activities Unit from my TPT Store!

Grab these biography student reports to help you teach biographies in your classroom this year.

The set includes templates for biography reports that can be used all year long, catering to the needs of different levels of learners. Differentiated research activities are included, along with anchor chart sets that can be printed in black and white or color for student reference during the unit. A classmate research activity is also included, fostering community building within the classroom. Engage your students in the excitement of learning from history through biographies!

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Looking for fun and engaging ways to teach biographies this year? These activities include everything you need to introduce and teach biographies in ways your students will love. The resource even comes with a super fun art activity you can use at the end of your unit. #elementaryisland #teachingbiographies #activitiesforteachingbiographies #biographyactivities


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