Foundation: writing a memoir

​Unit overview

This Foundation unit of work on My Place focuses on introducing the text type ‘memoir’ as part of the recount genre. Mentor texts are viewed, read and innovated on. Students interview family members about where and when they were born and any significant memories relating to their upbringing.

They collect artefacts that will prompt their memory of past events and act as a stimulus for talking and writing. Students also locate their place within the local community by drawing maps and identifying natural, managed and constructed features of their neighbourhood.

Memoirs are part of the recount genre but differ slightly from a traditional recount. (Derewianka & Jones, 2016, pp. 131-132). Features include:

  • an identification of subject which orients the reader (e.g. who is the memoir about - who, when, where)
  • episode/s recall the memory. The memory can be simple (what, how) or contain a series of elaborated events that are in chronological order. This section could contain one to several paragraphs.
  • a comment or coda concludes the memoir. Here the writer includes an explanation of how this recalled experience changed or affected them in some way (eg. how did they feel at the end of the experience, why is this story important to them?

This series of lessons is designed to demonstrate how Foundation students can be supported to write their own memoir drawing on the background knowledge of their place in a family unit and local community. See Genre in the Primary Curriculum

Texts to support unit

My Place by Nadia Wheatley and illustrated by Donna Rawlins Text © 1987 Nadia Wheatley/Illustrations © 1987 Donna Rawlins Reproduced by permission of Walker Books Australia Pty Ltd.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas. Audio available on:

Links to the Victorian Curriculum



Derewianka, B. (1998). A Grammar Companion for Primary Teachers. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association.

Derewianka, B. & Jones, P. (2016). Teaching Language in Context (2nd Ed). South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.