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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Writing Workbooks  >  Elementary School
Creative Writing Exercise - Anchorage Reads Program
By Patricia Healy

I tell the child that we are going to "write a story together." I present the beginning of a story with blanks for the child to fill in, and ask him or her to describe various things. For example, in the first blank I ask what kind of day it is and suggest a list of possible adjectives describing what a "March day" with fresh snow on the ground might be like, such as: cold, sunny, gray, cloudy, beautiful, ugly, quiet, noisy, busy, crisp. The child either picks a word that I list or comes up with a word.

When presented with choosing a character the child is told:

  1. Make up a name they liked or knew, or
  2. Use their own name or a name of a friend or relative

In most cases they pick a friend or relative.

After the child finishes filling in the blanks, I add the choices to the story. I also add a little more "story" with more choices. In the next session we re-read the story and the child makes new choices for the blanks using words that describe sight, touch and simile (what it is like). Again we re-read the story and the child is asked to provide dialog. As our time together comes to an end, we talk about ending the story and how we might "tie together" what had happened. With the story complete we discuss a title. At the final session the child is presented with a "bound copy" of the story with space for illustrations.

Below is a copy of the first page of the exercise. Following are some examples of what children did with "their stories."

On a _____________ day at the end of March, ____________ decided that he/she was tired of playing inside. ________________ needed some adventure. So he/she grabbed his/her ________________ and his/her _____________ and set off. There was fresh snow on the ground and the clouds were ___________________. The first thing _____________ saw was a ___________________ standing beside a tree. He/She __________ over to the _______________. "What's your name?" asked ____________. The ___________ replied, "__________________." Was this the beginning of the adventure ______________ was seeking?

Here is the start of Steven's story:

On a Monday at the end of March, Brother decided that he was tired of playing inside. Brother needed some adventure. So he grabbed his blanket and his pillow and set off. There was fresh snow on the ground and the clouds were dark. The first thing Brother saw was a bear standing beside a tree. He ran over to the bear. "What's your name?" asked Brother. The bear replied, "What's your name?----." Was this the beginning of the adventure Brother was seeking?

Then, I typed up Steven's beginning and added a little more story for him to work with:

    On a Monday at the end of March, Brother decided that he was tired of playing inside. He needed some adventure. So he grabbed his blanket and his pillow and set off. There was fresh snow on the ground and the clouds were dark. The first thing Brother saw was a bear standing beside a tree. He ran over to the bear. "What's your name? asked Brother. The bear replied, "What's your name?" Was this the beginning of the adventure Brother was seeking?

    On the ground Brother saw a coyote. It was the color of dark brown trees and had a texture like a soft rabbit. It reminded him of the bear.



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The Anchorage Reads Program

 
About the Author: Patricia Healy is a volunteer tutor for the Anchorage Reads Program.
 

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