feel free to download the following techniques, with my compliments, for use in
your own teaching! There's a lot on offer here, so you'll need to scroll down
the page to see it all.
All of these devices can be used by children and adults of all ages. Some are
more suited to K.S. 1 children and others may well be only suitable for K.S.2
children. In all instances it depends on the children's abilities and
experience in storywriting and storytelling. The intention is to get away from the
fear of a blank sheet of paper and to create a story. REMEMBER all of these
activities do not necessarily have to lead to a written story being produced.
It is better to get the children into the way of thinking about how a story
develops through verbal techniques and verbal retelling. The recording process
can come later.
A STORYBAG K.S.1 A bag that is filled with objects that relate to a specific fairytale
or a story, e.g. a bowl, a spoon, a toy chair, some toy bedding, a teddy bear
can be used to get the children to consider the objects in a story such as
Goldilocks and place them in order. They can use the objects to re-tell the
story after they have been shown the objects.
K.S.1 A bag that is filled with random classroom toys and objects. The
children have to describe them and could put them into a story. (This would
require encouragement from the teacher to ask them how, for example, a pan and
a horse could be in a story. (“A cook was riding by the side of a stream as the
sun beat down on his head. The water looked so cold and inviting that she
reached beneath the ripples to get some in a pan that she had at her back
when….”) The idea being that the plot develops as the objects are revealed, and
the children use their imagination to link items.) The more practice the
children get with this exercise the more elaborate the descriptions become and
the more familiar children could become with joining in as they can recall the
K.S.1 Having single items that relate to a story in the bag and the children
picking out one item and that is then the story to be told. For example the
choosing of a toy dog from the bag could lead to the story of "The
Tinderbox" being told.
K.S.2 To give the children an initial stimulus they can choose a specific
number of items from the bag and they have to be incorporated into a story. For
example a mirror, a jug and a watch could be drawn from the bag and they have
to make a story that has those three items in it. One could be used for the
beginning, another for the middle and the last for the ending. If nothing else
this gives the children a structure that cannot be ended with; “And then I woke
up and it was all a dream.” Or “I met my friends and we all had tea.”
ACROSTIC STORIES USING THE CHILDREN'S NAMES K.S.1 & K.S.2
In the same way that you use random letters to generate alliterative words you can use the children's names to generate a story.
This has a lot of advantages as the children are naturally interested in their
own names and in the possibility of using themselves as the focus of a story. C clown, cough, clapped, cringe, cow, clip-cloppcd H happy, have, hung, harp, heavy R ride, rip, rattle, right I inside, imp, invite, injure S some, sometimes, simple, soft, sad
These words can be used in order;
Chris the clown, coughed, clapped and cringed as the cow clip-clopped behind
him. He was happy to have the hard, heavy, harp, hung over his shoulder as he
rode right into the rattling, rippling night. He didn't know that there was an
imp inside the wood who would invite him in. The imp looked sad and he softly
cried a simple song.
Again, this can be put into narrative form, or the words generated can be used
within any kind of story.
USING WORDS WITHIN A STORY.
You can give K.S. 2 children the choice of using words that they can find on
the top left or right hand corner of a book, any book chosen at random and set
them the task of writing a story that incorporates as many of these words as
possible. For example, using the book "A test of truth", the top
right hand words on the first six pages are;
Constantly bending to reach his untasted food, the knight knew that sooner or
later he would have to eat. The not knowing was the worst. Could his meal be
poisoned? Would he live to sec another day? They were waiting for his news in
the great castle etc...
Alliterative poems turned into stories.
K.S. 1 At first as a class exercise, using a dictionary, word book or wooden
letters the children choose a letter of the alphabet. They then have to think
of an animal, a happy word, a sad word, a name, a colour, a town and anything
that they can think of that starts with that letter.
These words are written down as the children say them;
Big, boasting, blocked, bike, bring, banjo, boots, bugle, bumble, bricks,
bit, bite, Brenda, brim.
These words are then placed into an alliterative poem, using as few words as
possible that do not begin with the chosen letter.
"Billy the big, brown, boasting, baboon from Birmingham bought a big bugle
at the bring and buy sale, but Brenda bit Billy's boots and blood brimmed and
blocked the bikes by the bricks."
There is a mental picture, no matter how ridiculous, associated with these
words that the children have chosen. This can be analysed as to why this
happened and what could happen next and it can be written in a non-prose form.
"Once upon a time there was a baboon and he was called Billy. Billy came
from Birmingham and he used to boast all of the time. This was because he was
very brown and he was well known for being big. All of his life he had always
wanted a bugle. He had seen a bugle etc....."
You have introduced a variety of narrative forms and expanded on a simple
story. Since the children have chosen the words, they must be within their
understanding and they have developed possession of the plot line. This
technique is useful with all ages of writers and is fun.
To reinforce their use of English you can get the children to give you verbs
and then adjectives and then nouns. Letters “J” and “G” can highlight spellings
When the children have been playing scrabble they can collect and write down
all of the words that they have made. They can then use them to make up a story
where they include as many of the words as possible. Since they have already
formed the words in the game that they will be within their vocabulary and the
activity reinforces list making.
USING OLD POSTCARDS.
K.S.2. You can pick up old postcards very cheaply from markets and craft
Give them to the children and get them to analyse why the cards were sent, what
was the relationship between the writer and the reader, who they were, when the
cards were sent and finally get them to reply to the cards, or write a card
that goes before the card they have read. This gives an insight into character
and relationships and can be developed further in the writing of a
story.(Almost in the style of Bridget Jones.) This appeals to children as they
are almost prying into someone else's private correspondence.
Who? Where? What? Why? When? Stories.
This is one of the most satisfying of all story construction techniques and
involves nothing more than the children being encouraged by a cycle of
It takes a little practice but it is well worth it
• Make an agreement with the children that you will only take those ideas from
those children who put their hands up.
• Get them to close their eyes and think of all of the things that you can find
in a story.
• Begin with, "Once upon a time there was...., open your eyes...
• Then say where were they?
• Then say, "What were they doing?" or "What were they
• And so on with where? Why? And when? until the story has developed.
Then leave the individual children to complete the story.
If you can't remember the question cycle then write it on a piece of paper and
hang it on the wall behind the children.
For K.S.2 you can give them a die with the question words on and they can
cast the die to decide how the story will develop. For older and more capable
children this has the advantage of making them think of a number of
sequentially important decisions should a question repeat itself.
Eg.four "what?" questions in a row.
TELLING THE STORY IN THE SHORTEST WAY POSSIBLE. K.S. 1 & K.S.2 Children of all ages have difficulty with editing their work. In many
instances they are convinced that more is better.
For children a simple exercise can be the summarising of well known stories,
or something that they have seen on television.
For example Jack and the beanstalk could become;
There's a lazy boy and he has to sell the cow and he gets beans which turn out
to be magical and they grow. He makes three trips up the beanstalk and outwits
the giant and does very well for himself and his mother.
This can be set as a competition to see who can have the shortest description
They can then apply the same rules to the story that they have just written.
It is a means of drafting your work and considering those parts of your work
that may well not be necessary to get the information across to the reader.
Thinking of a different way of starting and/or ending a story.
"Once upon a time" and "Happily ever after" serve a useful
purpose and are very familiar to children.
As an exercise you can ask the children to think of a different way of beginning
"This is the way that it was but you will wish that it had never been
"Twice upon another time."
"In a land far too close to here..."
"And they lived, but not happily because it served them right."
Or you can use several starts to a story together;
“Once upon a long ago and very far away…
Depending on the children's abilities you can present them with a number of
dice with either words or pictures on and then cast the dice. Whatever images
or words come up the children have to try to make a story up about what they
have seen. With practice and depending on how many dice you use, the children
can generate a large number of stories.
one die can have places on it
another can have heroes or heroines
another can have magical animals on it
another can have good or bad people on.For ordinary sized dice you can get
stickers to cover the numbers, and place a small picture or a word in its
place. POETRY 1.
Good, bad, happy or sad?
" There was a young woman called Glad,
who was only happy when she was sad.....
" A big, bad, mean, old cowpoke called Jim,
when he was shooting would break into a grin...
" One night as I sat in the bath,
I couldn't help myself starting to laugh.....
So how do you feel? How can you tell other people about it, and most
importantly can you put it into a poem that they would want to read?
Make a list of all of the words you know that are associated with your emotions
and how you feel. Put them into two lists; good and bad. If you are stuck then
think about what would make you happy right now, and write down all of the
words that come into your mind. It could be a birthday or a holiday. It could
be opening a present that was just what you've always wanted, or it could be
something as simple as seeing someone smile.
What is the saddest thing that you can think about? What can you remember of
that time? It can be something that's happened to you or to someone that you
know or it can be something that you have seen on the television. It can be
about moving from one school to another, or when you have had an argument with
a friend. Use the words and put them into small sentences, but make sure that
each sentence has a feeling or an emotion in it, then arrange and rearrange the
sentences to make some statement about how you feel.
Happy, happier, happiest. Sad, sadder, saddest.
Hearts beat in rhythm. Some people will never have enough.
All of our wishes have come true. Are you alone in your room?
People can see me smile. Don't cry anymore. It's not your fault.
Please don't let this day end.
You are my best friend.
You can write simple poems which could start,
I am happy when... I am sad when....
I am happier when... I am sadder when...
I am happiest when.... I am saddest when...
or make a poem from a list of things that make you laugh, or make you cry.
Babies burping, Grazed knees,
birds chirping... Cauliflower cheese....
To make a more interesting poem don't mention yourself and just write about the
emotions and the feelings but don't forget to give a sense of place and time.
Parcel paper crackling in the Christmas dawn. Daybreak, heart ache,
Lit by our smiles as we tug to free our surprises. icy cold beneath my skin.
"If you're happy and you know it, write a poem." Poetry 2.
Inside, outside, upside down.
"Here I am stuck in the great indoors,
with no-one but me for company.....
"There is nothing here in this place.
This dark and bitter space.......
"Everywhere I look I can see my friends,
A sense of where you are is very important in any kind of writing, but it is
especially important in poetry. You need to let your readers know where, and
what you are writing about, so that they can relate to your writing.
* You can deliberately tell people.
"At the foot of this mountain I can only see how far I have to
* You can be vague and only sketch your reaction to your surroundings.
"Cold and damp surround me.
They suck the warmth from my blood."
* You can concentrate on one small detail, and give your reader a sense of
place by repeatedly referring to that one object.
" The clock chimes and clicks
as the tick marks and marches through time.
My heart beats match its moving hands,
and I am frozen in motion by its tall,
oh so tall,
oh so tall and ageing case.
In this last example, there is a sense of mystery. It is much better to draw
your reader into your writing;
Why are you there? How did you get there? rather than if you just stated the
" I am standing beside a noisy old clock."
Think about your favourite room and write three or four-line poems in the 3
different styles; obvious, vague and mentioning only one object. Then try it
with a room that you don't like. REAL OR FANTASY?
One of the best things about being a writer is that you can go anywhere and be
anywhere that you want. and the more magical and fantastic the place, the
easier it is to write about it.
Write a poem about any or all of the following;
* A place where everything is just as you would want it to be.
* A place where magic happens and nobody is surprised by it.
* A country where people walk on their and hands and shake feet.
* A place where nothing stays the same for more than a moment.
* What it is like to stand on Jupiter and look at the sun and wonder if there's
any life in outer space.
* Think of somewhere for yourself.
Take your poem to the edges of your imagination ! PLOT
A story is a sequence of events in their time sequence.
A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality.
“The king died and then the Queen died.”, is a story.
“The King died and then the Queen died of grief.”, is a plot.
The time sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it.
“The Queen died, no one knew why, until it was discovered through grief at the
death of the King.”
This is a plot with a mystery in it, a form capable of high development.
It suspends the time sequence. It moves far away from the story as its
limitations will allow.
Consider the death of the Queen.
If it was in a story then we would say “and then?”
If it is a plot we ask “why?”
The conventional Western plot follows the linear structure;
Conflict (and the build up of conflict)