Creative Writing/Literacy Lessons

“Bugalug’s Bum Thief” by Tim Winton

Kids love this book – it makes them giggle out loud. In drama I read them a couple of chapters (they are super short) and then have them create either short scene or Comic Strip Tableuas.

After Chapter 2:

Create a scene showing Skeeta waking up – what is his reaction to finding he has no bum?

He goes to tell friends, who are all engaged in an activity made harder because none of them have bums. They come up with a plan to solve the problem.

Ten Minute Narratives

This is a simple, effective and creative way of getting kids into writing narratives in a safe environment. A little preparation is needed but it’s not too cumbersome. You will need a selection of pictures that can inspire a story. You can easily find some clip art / photos of setting, people, objects etc that could inspire a story. Print small versions of these out that you can paperclip in groups. Make 7 or 8 different sets (aim to have your class work in groups of 3 – this seems ideal for this activity).

It’s important to ensure kids have a basic understanding of narrative structure before embarking on this activity. I suggest using the Signpost Narrative Elements Activity first (which can be done numerous times with different books to really get the kids to grasp the concept).

Group children in varying abilities and gender. Once groups are called out, each child is responsible for different aspects – one will grab a clipboard and sharp pencil, one will grab a gluestick and piece of paper and one will grab the series of pictures (from the teacher). This is a lovely incidental lesson on following instructions if you set it up correctly.

Once in groups, kids look at the pictures and glue them across the top of their sheet. They then have 10 minutes to come up with a story that uses all the narrative elements , using the pictures as stimulus. Circulate around the groups to ensure they have a problem/conflict and a climax (the most exciting part of the story).

Once the ten minutes is up, gather kids on the mat and have each group up to share their story. The class then decides whether they covered all the important aspects/what was missing. Maybe there wasn’t a climax? Perhaps they ran out of time so didn’t get to resolve the story. They almost learn more when they haven’t successfully used all elements as they then have to consider how they would improve/change their stories.

Even kids who aren’t happy writers find this activity approachable and fun is there’s an elements of game, challenge and team work. No need to write drafts and neat copies. This is a raw creative activity!

Plot Signpost Activity

This activity is great to use with kids form lower primary (just introducing the idea of narrative structure) to older kids who need gentle reminding. The best thing is that it takes only a few minutes, is engaging and can be repeated with different books until all kids ‘get it’.

The key is to use any picture book appropriate to the age level, and where kids can easily identify character, setting, problem/conflict, climax, resolution, rising action, plot (beginning,middle,end), exposition. Grab the book and sit near a white board/interactive and draw up the narrative curve. No labels. Have a volunteer be your scribe. As you read the book, kids ‘signpost” – hand up – when they see a new element revealed. By the end of the story the curve will be filled in and kids have a visual reminder of what’s what.

I did do this once with a book that, essentially, had no climax. There were great characters, setting, problem….but then it simply got solved. The kids signposted this at the end and we discussed how it had really let the story down. It was then a beautiful segue into getting into pairs and quickly writing the climax for the story should have been.

In a narrative unit, or even through out the year, this can be done over and over with a variety of books. Sometimes with the curve, other times just verbally. Also , a great one for relief teachers!

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