Teaching Kids to Write Stories

Writing is a wonderful tool that can help kids let their imagination fly, express themselves, and explore the people they are and their world. Writing, whether it is journaling or creative, can also be cathartic. If your child is bitten by the writing bug, you can do plenty to help them cultivate the writing habit.

I used these simple activities to get my kids to exercise their writing muscles.

Screen to Paper
My kids love movies and using that to spur them on, I asked them to write the movie in the form of a short story. We started with Penguins of Madagascar. Children’s movies are easier as they are usually told in a linear fashion. The kids had to basically narrate the story with a beginning, middle and end. This is similar to writing a movie synopsis. They did have trouble writing about the characters and introducing them into the story. So we did a separate exercise in writing character sketches. They gave the dialogues a miss and used reported speech where necessary. The movie also gave them a lot of practice in descriptive writing as they had to describe different places. This is suitable for older kids who are familiar with story structures, that is, they have done enough reading to know how a story is written. It is a good idea to set a word limit so that the writing is tight.

Girl Writing
DSC_3763” by Alexandratx is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pebble Clues
This is an exercise in creativity and imagination. I drew a few things on pebbles. The kids had to choose three random pebbles and spin a story around them. For instance, in one round my son picked up a bicycle, a girl, and a rat. The best part of these types of writing exercises is that there is no right or wrong way to tell the story. It can be a fairy tale, sci-fi or even a case of whodunit. It can be one of them or all of them.

Drawing by Kid
DSC_3784” by Alexandratx is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A Day in My Life
It is similar to journaling but for kids to turn their day into a story, they have to learn to be aware of how they felt and related to their day. It will train them to pay attention to what they see and do. Being able to be an observer of life while standing on its periphery and yet being a part of it is no mean task as the kids will soon find out! Add an extra spin to this exercise by getting them to start off with a storyboard of their day. Using the storyboard as a guide, they can get their story off the ground. Offer them yet another variation – start the story from the middle or even build it backwards.

Colorful Set of Pencils
Colorful set of pencils-5” by Daniel Kulinski is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

These activities have built my kids’ confidence in writing. I prefer that they write by hand rather than type away on a computer. While these writing activities have been effective in getting kids started, you must keep in mind that kids do outgrow them quickly. By keeping an eye on the progress they are making, you can continue introducing more challenging activities and raise the bar for them.

Retro Toys are making a comeback

My guilty pleasure during the holiday season was watching reruns of Pawn Stars. It has just the right mix of trash TV and history. All the general knowledge I picked up from it, I keep telling people, helps. Do people buy it, I don’t yet know. One of these episodes had a lady that was selling a vintage train set that immediately got me thinking about retro toys that we grew up playing.

At the time that they did come out, they were the greatest in technology – meaning they were simple and it genius in their own ways. Before the time when hand consoles became as popular as they did, kids had toys that meant some sort of physical activity. They soon fell by the way side till Toy Story was released. Remember Toy Story?

It just brought back an interest in all the toys we have left abandoned in our attic, preferring TV and video games as means of entertainment. With people turning to health kicks this New Year, you will find more and more people trying to get outdoors and play. You will also find mantras of ‘start young’ with parents helping their kids get into activity and get themselves out of a sedentary lifestyle.

Most of you don’t need an introduction to these toys but just in case you need the encouragement to go out and source one, here it is.
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Hula Hoop

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Yo Yo

Move Beyond Fetch - Free Pet Games to Play with your Dog

Those who love pets but don’t have one make do with free pet games online. I’m one of the lucky ones – too lucky for my own good actually. I have four rambunctious dogs who love to bounce all over the furniture and annoy my standoffish cat with their “friendly” overtures. Channeling all that happy dog energy was a challenge until I discovered these fun games. Feel free to use them for your crazy canines.

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Image Source - http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewpescod/3831015106

Tag!
My dogs love this game because they adore running and I love it because it encourages them to come when called. All you need is a partner and plenty of dog treats to get this free pet game going. Have your partner stand across the room. Each of you has a pocketful of dog treats. Both of you take turns to call the dog and reward him with a treat. After a couple of rounds of this activity, station your partner in another room, so that your dog runs from one room to another when called. If you want maximum exercise but lower food intake, reward him with a treat every alternate or even third recall. Or substitute loads of praise and a tug toy for food. For added excitement, start to run away as you call, so the game of recall turns into a thrilling chase. In the summer, we usually play this great game in the yard or the park and in other places as well.

Find it!
This free pet game is for days when I’m feeling too lazy to think up something more creative but trust me, you can never go wrong with a game that’s got sniffing AND food. Show your dog a small dry treat and say “Find it!” and toss it on the ground. My fussy dogs disliked the idea of eating their food off the floor so I used to drop the food right in front of them until they got used to hunting out of the bowl. You can make the game more challenging by asking him to stay/sit while you hide the treat behind some furniture or in another room. Release the dog and let him hunt happily away! I ended up feeding my sweeties entire meals in this way.

Water Chaser
The great thing about this game is that you can use it to give your dog a bath if he hates having one. Talk about sneaky! First you shoot jets of water from the hose and move it around for your dog to chase. Make sure the water force is not too great and be careful not to hit his face. Do not allow your dog to jump on you during play time but be prepared to get completely drenched especially if, like me, you have more than one dog. It’s almost like playing a game of laser tag but unlike that feline favorite, it does not cause behavioral problems. If your dog exhibits attacking behavior during play, stop playing immediately or enforce strict rules. This free pet game, however, is not for dogs who do not like water even in play.
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brionnasimpson

Author:brionnasimpson
I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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