Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teaching kids to write

My kids were once reluctant writers.  They would sit at the table and stare at a blank paper or screen for hours.  (You think I'm exaggerating, don't you? I'm not. HOURS.) I always dreaded the assignments that consisted of them writing a story.  This might sound odd, since I'm a writer, but it's true.  They couldn't even get past "Once upon a time." Often, they couldn't even get that far.  They refused to start the story with Once upon a time unless it was a fairy tale.  And they didn't write fairy tales.

I'd sit down with them and ask they what they wanted to write about.  Sometimes I'd get a blank look and sometimes I'd get a rough summary, but even with a summary it was too hard for them to know where to start.  Finally, I told them to start with a character and build from there.  So I thought I'd write a quick little story starter for other parents of reluctant writers.

Who is the character?  
-Animal or a person?  
-Male or female?
-What does the character look like?
-What is something funny about character?

What does the character want more than anything in the world?
-It could be a thing like a toy 
-Maybe they want to go somewhere like Disneyland
-It could be getting parents or enough food.

What is in the way of the character reaching the goal?
-Not enough money
-Mean people are keeping him from his family

When does the story take place? 
-It could be a time of day or year
-It could be in the future

Where is the character?

Why does the character want what he wants?
-Did he see an amazing toy?
-Is he lonely?
-Is he jealous of someone else?

How is the character going to go after his goal?
-Does he get a job?
-Does he escape?

With all these questions answered, you have a basic outline for a story.  The child doesn't have to use the examples listed below the question, but every question must be answered in their own words. Here's a first sentence to help them get started.

All (Character) ever wanted was (desire).

From there, they can build their story. It is important that they use every answer they gave for the questions above.  This is, obviously, a tool for very young writers.  But, once a child learns how to transfer the stories in their head to paper, they will have the tools they need and you will no longer be standing in the middle of the kitchen at 10:00 pm yelling at them to PLEASE JUST WRITE SOMETHING!

1 comment:

  1. I love this and plan to use it for my own reluctant writer!