With the help of University of Michigan School of Education grad student Molly Garrett, third-graders in Ann Arbor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School create compelling copy and brochures depicting the biomes of the world
Creating clear, concise, and interesting signage and brochures for a botanical garden, museum, or zoo can be a challenge. Interpretation needs to address multiple audiences and different ages while conveying information in a lively format that’s educational and yet uncomplicated.
The current exhibit at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a trove of brochures created by Amy Warner’s third grade class at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Ann Arbor. Amy’s graduate student intern, Molly Garrett, devised this informational writing unit with the intent to provide students with an authentic purpose for writing.
The project assignment was to research the earth’s terrestrial biomes and to create informational text to educate others about biomes. Students researched the arctic, tundra, grasslands, tropical rainforests, desserts, the temperate deciduous forest, and the temperate coniferous forest (taiga). The purpose of the assignment was to create materials for Matthaei Botanical Gardens younger visitors.

Some examples of brochures created by the King Elementary third-graders.

The third graders immersed themselves in the writing project for six weeks. The class decided to use informational brochures as their medium for educating the garden’s young visitors.
In the project’s initial stages, students researched their chosen terrestrial biome using books and online sources, and explored the genre of informational text in brochures. Through this exploration they discovered the features of brochures, such as a cover page, subtitles, use of images, and a bibliography. Students used index cards to organize their research into the following categories: climate, location, plants, animals, and other facts. This process supported the transfer of their research into the writing process. Students followed the traditional writing process of planning, drafting, revising, and editing their work. They used computers to publish their brochures, which is the work exhibited at Matthaei today.
The third-grade writers produced impressive results about the Earth’s biomes and are very proud of their finished work. Please join us at Matthaei for a look at the students’ efforts.

Exhibit runs through May 17 at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105. The Gardens is open daily 10 am-4:30 pm. Admission is free, with a small hourly parking charge.