Creative writing can be a favorite activity, but sometimes when a child is told to write a story she feels overwhelmed because there are so many choices. We might feel the same way when we head to the grocery store and there are several shelves of options for the item we need to buy.
Providing clear expectations to creative writing can help. Are you looking for an engaging activity for your child? Why not use story prompts? I’ll share photographic prompts here, but your family could have fun creating your own!
Story Prompts from Photographs:
Other Writing Prompt Ideas
· Find a painting at a resale shop to start a story. Here are some possible questions to answer in the story: What are the subjects doing? Why are they there?
· Choose an object at the house, the quirkier the better, and have your child write a story that somehow incorporates it. Optional questions to answer: Why is this object significant to the story? How does this object save the day?
· Use an old magazine or catalogue and choose a photograph to base the story off of. Perhaps ask: Who is this character? How does this item advertised fit into the story? How is the world rescued using this object?
A great story will have a problem. Have your child think of the books and movies they enjoy. Discuss the big problem that the main character had to face. Here’s an example: In Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, Vanellope is tired of racing on the same track over and over. She wants a challenge. Ralph wants his best friend to spend time with him and things to be the way they had been.
The Basic Story Structure:
There is a beginning, middle, and an ending to a story. There is a problem to be solved. Each story has a big idea, sometimes called the “heart of the story,” which is the reason the story is told. If you have young elementary children, a song you might like to look into and possibly share with them is Parts of the Story from the Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel.
Older students study the narrative plotline in more detail. In order to be sure students include all the parts of a story, teachers might have their students plan the parts of the story out before writing.
Here are some basic questions a student needs to be able to answer for the story: What is the problem? What is the solution? What is the purpose of the story?
This is the general plotline of a story:
* The Exposition: establish the characters, setting, and problem (this is also called the conflict)
* The Rising Action: create tension and build excitement, the problem is clear
* The Climax: the biggest moment of the story
* The Falling Action: story begins to resolve
* The Resolution: the main problem is solved
Grade Level Goals:
Standards and benchmarks (expectations students must meet) will vary for your child based on their grade. I’ll go through a variety of grade level goals and then share some educational standards that relate.
If you have a pre-kindergarten or a pre-writing student but would like to have him try creative storytelling, simply ask him to make up a story based on the picture you provide. You can be his scribe and write it down. Invite your child to draw a picture to help tell the story. Thoughtfully ask questions that will help guide your child’s story if they feel stuck.
The goal of a child’s first draft is simply to get ideas on the page, there is no need to worry about spelling yet. Some teachers have students circle a word that they know they need to go back and spell correctly later.
A fourth grader should be able to establish a situation and introduce the narrator and/or characters. The narrative (story) should unfold naturally. He or she should be able to use dialogue. The conclusion should follow naturally from the events in the story.
In sixth grade a student should be able to use a variety of narrative techniques, make relevant descriptions, plan and revise.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.A Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.B Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.E Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.A Engage and orient the reader by establishing a context and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally and logically.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.B Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.3.D Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 6 here.)
Involving the Whole Family:
The adults and children at home can all be involved. Even if you don’t have time to write up a story, you could tell a creative story using the same prompt as your child.
After your child writes his or her story, why not have a presentation for the family? After she shares her story, offer her specific praise. General praise (“I like your story”) is fine, but specific praise helps a child see what they did well. Here are some examples:
- Your characters were very realistic.
- The words you chose to describe the setting helped me picture it in my mind.
- You used believable dialogue.
Do you have a family member or friend of the family who you would love to visit but can’t right now because of social distancing? Your child’s story could be a fun way to connect over the phone or video chat! Perhaps they could get involved by having the same story prompt as your family! Stories can be very different based on the same prompt, this could be a fun way to see the creativity of others.
What prompts can you think of to engage your family in creative writing?
How does storytelling help connect your family?
What are the problems in your favorite stories and how were they resolved?
Other Storytelling Tools:
Looking for Great Educational Websites?
Here’s a post I shared about websites teachers love, parents want, and children need.
English Language Arts Standards for Writing: http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/W/introduction/