A Persuasive Design

By Suzanne Robinson, August 31, 2009

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

Seven Fifty-Minute Class Periods


In this lesson students will choose and research an animal that they feel would make a good pet. Using the information they gain through their research, they will write a persuasive letter to their parents. This letter will serve the purpose of convincing their parents to get them the pet. In order to further support their argument, they will design a pet accessory that will make caring for the pet easier.

National Standards

Standard 1. Level II.  Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process 1. Prewriting:  Uses prewriting strategies to plan written work (e.g., uses graphic organizers, story maps and webs; groups related ideas; takes notes; brainstorms ideas; organizes information according to type and purpose of writing) 2. Drafting and Revising: Uses strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g., elaborates on a central idea, writes with attention to audience; word choice, sentence variation; uses paragraphs to develop separate ideas; produces multiple drafts; selects punctuation for effect) 3. Editing and Publishing: Uses strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g. edits for grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling at a developmentally appropriate level; uses reference materials; excludes extraneous details and inconsistencies; selects presentation format according to purpose; uses available technology to publish work) Standard 1. Level IV.  Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process 5. Uses strategies (eg., adopt focus, organization, point of view; determines knowledge and interest of audience) to write for different audiences (eg., self, peers, teachers and adults) Standard 3. Level II.  Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions 9. Uses conventions of spelling in written compositions (e.g., spells high frequency, commonly misspelled words from appropriate grade-level list; uses a dictionary and other resources to spell words; uses initial consonant substitution to spell related words; uses vowel combinations for correct spelling; uses contractions, compounds, roots, suffixes, prefixes, and syllable constructions to spell words) 10. Uses conventions of capitalization in written compositions (e.g., titles of people; proper nouns [names of towns, cities, counties, and states; days of the week; months of the year; names of streets; names of countries; holidays]; first word of direct quotations; heading, salutation, and closing of a letter) 11. Uses conventions of punctuation in written compositions (e.g., uses periods after imperative sentences and in initials, abbreviations, and titles before names; uses commas in dates and addresses and after greetings and closings in a letter; uses apostrophes in contractions and possessive nouns; uses quotation marks around titles and with direct quotations; uses a colon between hour and minutes) Standard 4. Level II. Gathers and uses information for research purposes 1. Uses a variety of strategies to plan research (e.g., identifies possible topic by brainstorming, listing questions, using idea webs; organizes prior knowledge about a topic; develops a course of action; determines how to locate necessary information) 4. Uses electronic media to gather information (e.g., databases, internet, CD-ROM, television shows, cassette recordings, videos, pull-down menus, word searches) 7. Uses strategies to gather and record information for research topics (e.g., uses notes, maps, charts, graphs, tables, and other graphic organizers; paraphrases and summarizes information; gathers direct quotes; provides narrative descriptions) 8. Uses strategies to compile information into written report or summaries (e.g., incorporates notes into a finished product; includes simple facts, details, explanations, and examples; draws conclusions from relationships and patterns that emerge from data from different sources; uses appropriate visual aids and media)
Standard 7. Level II. Uses reading skills and strategies to read a variety of informational texts 3. Use text organizers (e.g., heading, topic and summary sentences, graphic features, typeface, chapter titles) to determine the main ideas and to locate information in a text 4. Uses the various parts of a book (e.g., index, table of contents, glossary. Appendix, preface) to locate information 5. Summarizes and paraphrases information in texts ( e. g., includes the main idea and significant supporting details of a reading selection
Listening and Speaking
Standard 8. Level II. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes 1. Makes contributions in class and group discussions (e.g., reports on ideas and personal knowledge about a topic, initiates conversations, connects ideas and experiences with those of others) 5. Uses strategies to convey a clear main point when speaking (e.g., expresses ideas in a logical manner, uses specific vocabulary to establish tone and present information)


Instructional Goals - Students will:
  • access information in order to successfully complete their assignment
  • write a persuasive letter, using information located during their search
  • understand that in order for their letter to be persuasive each statement must be supported with facts
  • design a pet accessory, in order to help support their argument present information in a cogent and clear way
Learning Objectives - Students will:
  • access information from at least two Web sites that pertain to their selected pet
  • list three reasons that their selected pet would make a good one
  • write at least one fact that supports each of the three reasons
  • write a persuasive letter that includes the listed reasons and support
  • follow the steps in the design process in order to design a pet accessory that will further support their argument


SmartBoard computers http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=kids_pc_home http://animal.discovery.com/guides/reptiles/turtles/aspets.html http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/pets/pets.html http://peteducation.com/ http://animalhospitals-usa.com/pet_care.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/kids/pets.htm http://www.funnyfur.com/dog-booties.aspx http://petoftheday.com/ http://www.letterwritingguide.com/friendlyletterformat.htm Note: Book selections should be based on student choices.  The following are only suggestions. Caring for Your Cat by Susan Ring Caring for Your Fish by Lynn A. Hamilton Caring for your Guinea Pig by Jill Florian Caring for Your Rabbit by Jill Florian Hamsters by Valerie Bodden Goldfish by Anita Ganeri Parakeets by JoAnne Early Macken Caring for Your Turtle by Lynn Hamilton Your Pet Gerbil by Elaine Landau How to Choose and Care for a Fish by Laura S. Jeffery Your Pet Dog by Elaine Landau Your Pet Iguana by Elaine Landau Snakes and Lizards by Deborah Dennard


  • animal pictures and/or photographs
  • chart paper
  • markers
  • handouts
  • sample Persuasive Letter
  • glue
  • construction paper
  • modeling clay
  • wooden sticks
  • fabric scraps
  • scissors
  • string
  • ribbon
  • tape
  • paper towel rolls
  • cardstock
  • glitter glue
  • pompoms
  • pencils
  • stapler


Session One: 1.  Share a personal story about yourself or someone you know who has a pet.   Show photographs if possible.  A read aloud such as The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg would also work well. 2.  Ask students who have pets to share a little about them.  Have them discuss what makes their pet a good pet (or not) and whether or not they would recommend that type of pet to others. 3.  Show students pictures of various types of pets from the following Web site: http://petoftheday.com/    Discuss several of them briefly. 4. Ask students to think of a pet that they would really like to have and reasons why. 5.  Have them discuss this with a partner. 6.  As students share their thoughts, formulate a list of desired pets along with sample reasons on the SmartBoard (or on chart paper). 7.  Explain to students that they will research a pet of their choosing. They will then use their gathered information to write their parents a persuasive letter to try to convince them to allow them to get that particular pet. Additionally, they will work with one or more other student(s) to design a pet accessory that will make caring for the pet easier. 8.  Students will write their choice of pet on a slip of paper and hand it in. 9.  Teacher will inform the class that groups of students will be formed according to the pet choice results. Session Two: 1.  Seat students according to who they will be working with.  (Groups should be between two and four students, depending on how many students chose each pet.) 2.   Display and discuss each of the various bookmarked Web sites that students will use to research the pet of their choice. 3.  Make students aware of the selection of pet books that have been selected and made available for their use. 4.  Distribute and explain the handout that students will use to help them gather information about their pet.  They will be completing sections A-D. 5.  Send students to computers and book tables with their handouts and their group member(s) to do their research.  They will have the remainder of the period to gather information that will help them to be able to write a persuasive letter and design a pet accessory. 6.  Students will gather together to share their findings. 7. Collect the handouts. 8. Explain to students that the next class session will be used to begin the design process of creating a pet accessory. Session Three: 1.   Distribute handouts back to students.  Review the previous day’s lesson. 2.  Ask students to share specific reasons why caring for their chosen pet could be difficult. (They may refer to the information recorded during their research in section D of their handouts.) 3.  Students will discuss with their group member(s), the ideas they recorded.  Their goal will be to identify and agree on one problem that they would like to focus on. 4.  Introduce the following Web site to students to show them some examples of various unique pet accessories: http://www.funnyfur.com/dog-booties.aspx 5.  Students will use section E of their handouts to brainstorm possible pet accessories that will help to make caring for their chosen pet easier. 6.  Students will share their ideas with the rest of the class. 7.   Collect the handouts. 8.  Explain to students that the next class session will be used to choose the idea with the most potential, develop it through sketches, diagramming, etc., and then get feedback from their classmates. Session 4: 1.   Distribute handouts back to students.  Review the previous day’s lesson. 2.   Students will work with their group member(s) to choose and develop the idea for a pet accessory that they agree would work the best to meet their goal of making caring for the pet easier.  They will use section F of their handouts. 3.  Each group will present their ideas to another group and receive feedback. 4.  Group members will discuss the feedback they received from other groups and make adjustments accordingly. 5.  Collect the handouts. 6.  Inform students that they are now ready to write a persuasive letter to their parents and create a model of their pet accessory. Session 5: 1.   Review the previous session.  Hand back the completed handouts. 2.  Explain to students that they will use the information on their handout to help them write a persuasive letter. (They must include and address the information from section A-D of their handouts.) 4.   Display, read, and discuss an example of a persuasive letter. (Students would have had previous practice with persuasive writing.) 5.  The format of a letter will be briefly reviewed and displayed. http://www.letterwritingguide.com/friendlyletterformat.htm 6.  Students will use the rest of the period to write the first draft of their letters. 7.  When time is up, students will gather to share their letters. 8.  Elements that make each letter convincing will be discussed. 9.  Students will have the opportunity to comment on their classmates letters. 10.  Follow up opportunities for students to revise and edit their first drafts will be given during the next few days. Session 6: 1.   Gather students near the supply table where all of the materials are set up. 2.  Explain to them that today they will work with their group member(s) to create a model of the pet accessory that they designed. 3.  After they receive their handouts they will take turns gathering the materials that they would like to use. 4.  They will have the rest of the period to work on their models. 5.  Allow time for cleanup. 6. Inform students that any group needing more time to complete their project will receive it during the next few days. 7.  Set a date for presentations of completed letters and models. Session 7: 1.  Groups will take turns presenting their projects. Their presentations will include sharing their letters as well as clear explanations of how the pet accessory they designed will help to make caring for the pet easier. 2.  Time will be given for student questions and comments. 3.  Students will be encouraged to give their persuasive letter to their parents and share the results with the class at a later date.


  • Observation of students' ability to use research skills to access suggested resources.
  • Completed letter will demonstrate each student’s understanding of the writing task.
  • Completed handout and model will demonstrate each student’s understanding of the design process.
  • Presentation of completed projects will show students' comprehension of the lesson's task.
  • Scoring rubric will be used.

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