Story starter: What a character!

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Creating characters is arguably one of the most important aspects of storytelling. Sure, plot is important, but even with a compelling story, readers will only be interested in “what happens next” if they care about the characters at the heart of the action.

thFor your primary class, consider breaking down the characteristics of a well-known fictional character—the wolf from Red Riding Hood or Cinderella, for example. Use photographs to help students identify key physical characteristics, and then further brainstorm to include other aspects of characterization such as family, occupation, geographical location, etc.

Now, using this character sketch, ask students to write a paragraph (or more) in answer to the following question:

What was this character doing the day before the actual story begins?

In the case of Red Riding Hood, for example, students may consider what the wolf was doing the day before he found Red Riding Hood in the woods—perhaps spending a few hours at the dentist polishing up those LARGE teeth?

thFor older students, consider brainstorming a new character as a class, and then having students individually create that character’s back story by writing a few creative paragraphs about how the character might react to a certain situation.

For instance, yesterday, your character witnessed a bank robbery. Based on the characteristics you have created as a class, each student may have a different creative interpretation of how the character responded—did he chase after the robber? Did she go straight to the police? Ignore the situation altogether? 

And you never know, these character backstories may just spark a new fictional adventure. Let us know how it goes!

~ The Teachers Media Team

 

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Story Starter: Three Questions

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Popular literature often inspires creative writing prompts. For this week’s story starter, consider The Three Questions, written and illustrated by Jon. J. Muth.

In this beautiful picture book, based on a popular story by Leo Tolstoy, a young boy named Nikolai seeks counsel from his animal friends to find the answers to three important questions:

  • When is the best time to do things?
  • Who is the most important one?
  • What is the right thing to do?

The heron, the monkey, and the dog are quick to respond—but their answers do not satisfy Nikolai. He turns to the wise old turtle that lives in the mountains for help. But it is Nikolai’s response to a stranger’s call for help that leads him to the answers he seeks.

If you don’t have access to the book in your classroom, you can play this read aloud video for your students.

After reading—or listening to—this book, pose the three questions to students to promote reflective responses, or consider three alternative questions.

What other examples from literature can you use in the classroom to create story starters? Share your ideas in the comments below!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Story starter: Out of this world

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Getting students excited about writing isn’t easy—and for most kids, the first obstacle is coming up with a story idea. Teachers Media International can help!

Every week, we’ll post a story starter that will hopefully inspire your students to get creative—whether writing individually, or as a class. While it would be impossible to find a global “curriculum” fit, we have tried to make each starter flexible, relevant, and fun.

Story Starter: Out of this world

The force isn’t the only thing that “awakened” with the release of the highly-anticipated Star Wars movie—the public appears to have a renewed interest in all things outer space. In fiction, both on the page and on the screen, setting is a primary characteristic of storytelling, perhaps even more so with tales that veer toward science fiction and fantasy.

After a brainstorming session about the solar system, complemented by library or internet research, have students write a descriptive paragraph about an out of this world place—alien nation on Jupiter? City among the stars? The sky, or rather the universe, is the limit! Don’t forget to use all the senses in creating this fictional world.

Have you used any of our story starters in your classroom? Let us know in the comments—and of course, if you want to share some of your students’ writing, we’d be thrilled!

~ The Teachers Media Team

Story starter: A visit to Grandma’s

 

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Getting students excited about writing isn’t easy—and for most kids, the first obstacle is coming up with a story idea. Teachers Media International can help!

Every Wednesday, we’ll post a story starter that will hopefully inspire your students to get creative—whether writing individually, or as a class. While it would be impossible to find a global “curriculum” fit, we have tried to make each starter flexible, relevant, and fun. Below, check out this week’s, suitable for primary students.

A visit to Grandma’s house

Johnny and his little sister, Emma are visiting their grandmother for the weekend. It’s always fun—except at dinner time. Grandma makes some strange meals, usually to go with movies or sports events. Like the one time she served Space Cheese for our Star Wars dinner (that was weird) or the mashed potatoes shaped like a football for the Superbowl. This one time:

Brainstorm with students some movie or sports events and plan a themed meal. Or, talk with students about their favourite and least-favourite foods, then write about a fictional or real dinner at Grandma’s.

What are some other creative writing tools you’ve used in the classroom? Do story starters work for your students? Let us know in the contents—and of course, if you want to share some of your student writing, that’s great too!

~ The Teachers Media Team