Perhaps you think of it as a circular ending, but one favorite technique for ending pieces – particularly short pieces – is by having the ending reflect the beginning. Here are three of my favorite examples.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Beginning: There was once a small boy named Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old either.
Ending: And the two of the smiled and smiled because Miss Nancy’s memory have been found by a small boy, who wasn’t very old either.
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
Beginning: There once lived a penguin. His home was a nice icy land he shared with his companions. His companions were named Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly and Perfect. His name was Tacky. Tacky was an odd bird.
Ending: Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect hugged Tacky. Tacky was an odd bird but a very nice bird to have around.
Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel by Leslie Connor
Beginning: She could have picked a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856.
Ending: She could have had a chiming clock or a porcelain figurine, but Miss Bridie chose a shovel back in 1856.
The reason, I believe these reflective beginnings and endings are so effective is that the reader is invited on a journey and then delivered home again. Here are three mini-lessons to help students become familiar with the concept of reflective endings.
- Read the beginning and endings of several picture books in which the ending reflects the beginning. Ask students, “What do all of these beginnings and endings have in common?” Provide time for them to search for books in your classroom collection that demonstrate this technique.
- Draw two bookends on the board. (I often find that students are unfamiliar with bookends. Review their purpose if necessary.) Write a beginning above the first bookend such as: “George Washington was our first president.” Write a reflective ending above the second bookend: “Everyone agreed. Only George Washington could be our first president.” Erase your model. Write a beginning above the first bookend. Challenge kids to come up with a reflective ending. After trying this a few times (and perhaps going in the reverse direction) invite kids to come up with both beginnings and reflective endings
- Lori Jamison Rog in her book Marvelous Minilessons for Teaching Beginning Writing, K-3 calls these types of beginnings and endings “wrap-around endings”. She writes, “A good ending is like a bow on a present — it wraps the piece up neatly,” and suggests students choose two or three keywords from their lead sentence and use them in their concluding sentence. Model this technique (and your thinking) using a piece you have written.