It was lovely to pop in to Kinderling Radio again this week to discuss what most kids (and children's writers for that matter) find really hard; planning and writing a story.
I was guided by the lovely Shevonne Hunt through my first live interview (yikes) as we discussed ways to start this process even with very young children before they can read and write independently.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Below are some of my thoughts, tips and downloadable and online tools for you to use if you are wanting to support more of these sorts of activities with your children.
Helping kids to find the fun in planning and writing their own stories isn’t about trying to create literary geniuses, but empowering them and giving them confidence in their own abilities to tell a story.
· Toddlers and Kinder aged children.
o When reading their favourite books to them, ask them to embellish the story by creating their own characters and different endings. For example if there is a cottage in a forest in the background of a story, ask the child, ‘Who do you think lives in there? What would they look like? If you were ‘in charge’ of the story how would you make the story end?’
o Discussing the important elements of what makes up a story as you read will also help them with story structure. What is important about the beginning? What happens in the middle of a story and why do you need an end?
· Primary aged children.
o Story starters are a great way to get kids to practice their storytelling techniques but with a prompt to get them started. This could be a story starter that you make up or one you find online.
o Often acting out a story before writing it can help generate their creativity rather than sitting and staring at a blank sheet of paper or screen.
o Planning a story can be perceived as just adding more work on to writing a story, but if you remove the word ‘plan’ and use words like ‘sketch’ or ‘draw’ then it takes on a more creative tone and sounds less like school work.
o Use butcher’s paper on the floor and pretend they are creating a television show and draw a series of boxes that look like they are screens. Delineate between a beginning, middle and end and have the child create a series of simple scenes that help to order their story. Once they have created their story board then they can sit down and write out their ‘script’ to go with their show.
· The more you can use colour and imagery, the easier kids find it to visualise scenes and characters.
· Holidays and celebrations are also a good opportunity to get excited about story telling. Halloween is coming up which doesn’t mean stories have to be scary, they can be just funny, gooey adventures. Download a Halloween story plan here.
· Online tools
o For younger kids Learn English Kids Story Maker creates a story for them based on their preferences but puts them ‘in charge’ of how the story goes. A great starting point.
o Lovers of Dr Seuss stories can create simple 3 scene online stories with music and dialogue. Seussville Story Maker
o Scholastic have an interactive story starter program that allows kids to start by picking the type of story they want to create, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi or a mixed style. Scholastic Story Starter Select an age appropriate level that encourages the child push a series of buttons and levers to come up with a story idea that they can write online in a format that they like eg a letter, postcard, newspaper t.
o For grades 3 – 8 why not try rewriting their own version of a fairy tale Fractured Fairy Tale
My Downloadable Worksheets.
Developing a story idea – what sort of story, characters, settings and events do you want to write about?
Creating a story arc – before you write your story what is the story arc or plan to keep your story interesting?