When we were completing our ‘Write a Book’ projects last year, there was a number of children in my class who didn’t know where or how to start a story. Some children could happily sit and write for hours and will have tons of ideas and won’t need a huge amount of support from a teacher. While others could sit for hours and still struggle to think of an idea for their story. In this blogpost I hope to share some strategies and resources to support story writing in the classroom.
I’ve found the best place to start is with the character.
Magpie Copy; As a quick task children can write down a list of characters in their Magpie copy. (This is a brilliant copy to use for all children where you give the children a topic and set a timer for 5/6 minutes. After 5/6 minutes, the children stop writing and share their ideas. If one child likes another child’s idea then they ‘magpie’ it!)
Character brainstorm; children choose a character from their Magpie list or from the character cards (see below) and brainstorm as much as they can about them. Write up some questions to focus the children covering – name, age, looks, personality, job, interests, things they like/dislike etc.
We completed this brainstorm on the whiteboard. The character we picked was a ‘zoo keeper’. The children gave me the ideas and I wrote it on the board. We also worked on a second character (blue) once we covered the setting and event.
The children can write a few sentences/ a paragraph about the main character starting with “Once upon a time there was a ___________ called __________.”
The setting is where the story takes place. Once the children know who will be in their story, they can focus on where the story will happen.
Here are the ‘settings for story writing’ cards.
Today we covered the character and setting. The character and setting cards were a great scaffold as they provided a clear structure and the children were able to use what they know about teachers and hospitals to develop their story.
What is going to happen in the story? This is the problem/ climax of the story which will need a resolution.