4 Ways To Teach Story Writing To Kids 12 and Under

Listening to our children tell stories is a right of passage for all parents. From the time our littles can form sentences, they whisper, yell and laugh through tales of joy, fear, and fantasy, as easily as sips of coffee warm our lips, and our eyes twinkle with pride.  We know beyond doubt, in those moments, that our child is the most intelligent, expressive being to ever inhabit this earth.

Fast forward a few years; We sit at our kitchen table asking that same, expressive, intelligent child to write a three paragraph story.  The blank stares, tears and agonizing pleas of angst are a far cry from what we witnessed in those early years. Not only have they stopped telling magical stories of literary prowess, they have also forgotten how to form sentences, dot I’s and print the letter G.

It turns out that all the words and stories in the world have been taken already.  We are assured, vehemently that “there is nothing to write about” and that’s why they are “so bored” because “It’s all been done so there is no reason to do this stuff!”

At about this time some of us feel the need to check out local schools to get them out of our dingdong house.  Sure we love them, and The Lord may (or may not) have told us to homeschool them, but it’s probably way easier to get water in the big down under than it is to teach this child, we’re certain of it.

But wait! Keep listening to The Big Guy upstairs (or not, whatever floats your boat) because it turns out, there ARE solutions to the dreaded writer’s block, hash-tag “I-don’t-want-to-do-it-syndrome”.

  1. The Free Resources from Oxford Owl lay out a practical, fun approach because it helps the child have a bit of fun and relax first.

Once you’ve read the tips, don’t forget to download their writing activity sheets below– They are packed with great ideas. They also offer a workbook to go with them for around 8 bucks, here, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you are just needing a jumpstart.

2. ReadWriteThink details another way to implement the same concept using short stories your child already enjoys.

3. The “When I was a kid” parenting strategy often sparks enough curiosity to engage children. It is a parenting strategy that promotes bonding with the child while inviting them to write about a memory they have about us (whoever is sitting there teaching), while we write about a memory we have about them.

If they STILL “can’t remember anything” it’s time to pull out the old family photos!

Parent: There once was a boy named Ryker. He went to visit his grandpa but grandpa was sleeping.  Ryker didn’t want grandpa to leave without him so he climbed up on the couch and fell asleep right on grandpa’s back….”

Child: There once was a mom named Shelly…”

Then we flip the script and they write a story about something they did “as a kid” when we weren’t there and we write a story about what we did “as a kid” when they weren’t there.

This strategy models the writing process behavior allowing them to mimic our actions.  They will see and hear how the story comes together through memory, imagination, speech AND writing rather than JUST writing.

Parent: “When I was 16 I worked at a pizza shop…”

The child usually becomes acutely interested in our story before we even get it on paper.

“When I was a kid I visited grandma and…”

Listen Up, Parent!  THIS is where YOU become acutely interested!  Get it?!

4. This is an example of color coding the beginning, middle and end of a short story so our child can think in terms of color rather than first, middle, last.  This visually blocks each paragraph in her mind so she can focus on only that portion. This helps tremendously to break the BIG project into tiny projects.

WHO (blue)

What/When/Where or Why they DID (red)

End the SCENE (green)

As they master the short 3 paragraph story/essay over time, they can begin to slowly lengthen the story into a 4, 5 or 6 paragraph essay by making separate paragraphs for What, When and Where for the action paragraphs.

There’s the plan, Stan!  🙂

Remember You Rule The Curriculum, The Curriculum Doesn’t Rule You!

– Shelly