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Developing Endings with Primary Writers

What kind of endings do your students write? I get a lot of “THE END,” or things like, “…and I went home.” We had already worked on great leads and I was happy with their lead statements and questions that started their stories. Many of them were adding important details to support their topics and several were no longer deviating topics. We were growing as writers, but I was growing tired of reading the same endings over and over again. It seemed like they all were abruptly ending their stories without much care for their reader. We needed to start small.

We began by looking at endings that were funny, showed a resolution and endings that restated the topic without offending the reader. Sometimes just restating what happened isn’t enough. We talked about the fact that the reader just determined what the story is about, restating the topic isn’t always necessary, but at certain times it can be appropriate.

Two of our favorite examples for ending with a resolution were The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’neill and You Will Be My Friend, by Peter Brown. Each had a problem that was resolved through friendship. We looked at books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff that circle all the way back to the beginning and restate it at the end. We also looked at books by Mo Willems that all seem to end with humor.

I decided to make a general chart first that reminded students to check on a few things and wrapped up with checking the ending. I wanted them adding this to their revising and editing routine. It was easier to talk about what NOT to do and wait to see what students DID do.

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Once students were actively changing endings and had good examples we started sharing them. Students became the teacher and showed what kind of ending they used.

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“The End,” became, “I had a great time at Kentucky and I can’t wait to go again.”


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Here, a student had a decent ending but she decided to add even more to make it stronger. This was a nice example of really thinking through the feeling you have at the end of a story and sharing that with your reader, even when you feel like you are done with the piece.

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“The next morning I went home,” became, “I want to go again.”

He also had “It was fun,” as an alternate but crossed it out. We talked about how it might be okay to leave it in the story since adding a feeling can also be a way to wrap up a story.

Once we had a few good examples we made a new chart with some alternatives and suggestions all students could try.

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Then kids started to write endings.

Students learned endings.

My attempt at a humorous ending. But really…

What ideas have you tried to get stronger endings from your students? Do you have some good examples to share? I am still on the hunt to show more great text examples, as well as student examples, to really get my students pushing past the endings they are used to.



Betsy Hubbard View All

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.

7 thoughts on “Developing Endings with Primary Writers Leave a comment

  1. I love your use of mentor texts. That really turned your kids’ endings around! I’ve tried having kids end with the feeling they want readers to share at the end of the story. This helps pave the way for the work of older kids – crafting endings that fit with the message or theme of the story.


  2. Just like you, I always started small with young writers, teaching them how to end their pieces with a feeling, a wish for the future (your examples show this), a final action, or sometimes a combination. They always loved looking at classroom read alouds and figuring out the types of endings the autors used. Favorite mentor texts for endings are Fireflies!, Crab Moon, and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.


  3. This was very timely for me, as work in endings was something I had identified as my next teaching point for my Year 2 and 3 class (Grade 1 and 2).
    I signalled the teaching point during the morning read aloud, then I used your idea of beginning with what not to do.
    This was very effective, as it sent quite a few children scurrying off to rethink their endings. Great to get a sense of urgency on this issue!
    Our next steps will be to study the way the authors we love handle their endings over the next few read alouds, so we can compile a list of ideas we can try.
    Thanks for this post. It was very helpful.


  4. I love how you exemplified an active writer’s workshop in which a problem area is identified, we look at models, discuss possibilities for change, and try it out. Your students are so lucky to have you, and we are lucky that you share your ideas and thoughts so freely. Thanks.


  5. Great post, Betsy. I’m glad to see you’ve experienced this same frustration; I thought I just wasn’t teaching endings well enough. Your examples also helped me see what’s acceptable as a good ending for young writers.


    • Thanks Allison. It’s important to note that these endings would develop into something more as students got older. However, this is a starting point and much better than “The End!” Thanks again for reading.


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