Creative writing for elementary students6 min. reading
I always tell students that there are no set rules for writing and they can write whatever they like.
Creative writing should be fun, playing games is good way to help develop story ideas.
Perhaps one of the reasons children can be reluctant to write creatively is they are insecure about their spellings, grammatical or structural skills.
In my classroom, I as an educator remove these anxieties by supplying ample opportunities for creative processing that doesn’t pick apart structure and syntax.
Use a word wall with different list categories such as seeing words, hearing words, tasting words, family words, action words, feeling words. Teach children to think about an object or place through all their senses when describing it. How does it feel, taste, smell, sound and look.
In fact, my focus is always on the expression. Give them an opportunity to string words together, supply them with some jumping off points, like some familiar vocabulary that they need to include in their writing.
Choose different types of words, and provide an explanation or discussion of those words after the writing.
Let the journey begin in how I make writing more fun for my students.
Students may feel reluctant and threatened by a blank piece of paper and a request to write a story about a given topic.
However, with some inspiration and fun activities, reluctant writers gain confidence and eager writers gain the skills to create higher quality writing.
How to teach creative writing?
Use these activities as building blocks to improving student writing and as tools to help you teach creative writing skills.
Once learned, the activities serve as tools that your students can keep using as they write in the future.
Show students how to use graphic organizers
Show students how to use graphic organizers such as story maps to think through their writing before they start.
A story map is a tool, often used in both reading and writing instruction, that helps students to understand the important elements of a story.
Before beginning a story, have kids plan out story elements such as character, plot, setting, theme, problem and solution on a story map so they have it to refer to as they write the story.
Fill in the graphic organizer together with your students the first few times to help them through the thinking process of coming up with the story elements that should be in the organizer.
Read to your students
Read to your students, no matter how old they are, so that they know what high quality writing sounds like.
Use a list such as the one linked below to find books that focus on one or two characteristics of quality writing. Before reading the book, introduce a characteristic of writing, such as unique word choice, and then ask students to listen for samples of it in the book as you read.
Later, have them mimic the characteristic of the book you read in a creative writing piece of their own, focusing on improving it in their writing.
Choose some familiar fairy tales, stories or nursery rhymes.
Choose some familiar fairy tales, stories or nursery rhymes. Write a list and ask students to tell you from whose point of view the story is written.
Discuss which story elements tell you who is telling the story. Discuss that character’s voice or personality characteristics and identify those in the story.
Have students pick a story 5 and retell all or part of it from a different character’s point of view using that character’s voice and personality in their writing.
Use circle-writing activities
Use circle-writing activities from time to time for a quick, fun and non-threatening creative writing exercise.
Place students in groups of four to six people. Each group needs one pencil and one piece of paper. Give students a strange topic or story starter such as “Yesterday, on the way home from school I saw the strangest creature. It had…” Each group chooses one person to start the story.
The student begins to write the story when the teacher says, “Go!” and continues to write until the signal to stop is given.
At that point, students pass the paper to the next person in the circle who reads aloud the story so far to his group.
The activity continues for a given time period or number of rotations around the circle. Always give the signal to the group when the last rotation arrives so they begin to end their stories.
Writing a story together with their group gives hesitant writers some peer assistance and a less threatening environment for creating a story.
How to introduce creative writing activities to children?
Start with the Six Traits of Writing
Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency and Conventions. These six traits provide a way to assess students’ writing.
When students understand the traits, they know what is expected of their writing.
Using and teaching the traits gives you a way to provide specific feedback about each student’s skills and needs.
Begin each class with an engaging prompt
These prompts could be used for short stories, journaling or oral stories. Vary the types of prompts.
You could use famous quotes, paintings, photographs, comic strips, passages from novels, poems, story starters or anything else students might relate to.
Teach students how to hold peer conferences with each other
During these evaluations, students read each other’s writing and give feedback. Model or script an effective, valuable conference for the class to see.
Vary how the partners or groups are organized; choose a friend, teacher’s choice, student to the left, etc. Give students a sheet of questions to ask each other and turn in for a grade or credit.
Questions could include: What is your favorite part of this story? Is there anything that is confusing to you, if so what?
Demonstrate how to do a story or character graphic organizer
Students use these to plan out their ideas, characters, plot, main idea and direction of the story before writing.
These graphic organizers take brainstorming a step further. They begin to take their ideas and develop them.
Show students how valuable the writing process is by giving multiple opportunities to edit and revise their work.
According to Alice L. Trupe, author of “Revising Practices,” “As he [the student] internalizes the feedback, he becomes a better critic of his own writing and progressively incorporates those critical insights into his own drafting and revising processes when writing outside of the classroom.”
Teach mini-lessons at the beginning of each lesson.
Focus the lessons on a small topic like using adjectives to replace the word “good.”
Teach other mini-lessons about strong verbs, fragments and run-on sentences, figurative language and good leads and conclusions.
Start a writing club to join together students who already enjoy writing.
Don’t limit it to “good” writers, open it up to anyone who wants to join. Let students choose their topics on some assignments.
Some students may be discouraged or frustrated if they are always told what to write.
Here are some possible topics for young learners:
- Imagine that you can become invisible whenever you wanted to? What are some of the things you would do.
- I am very proud because…
- If I were President I would…
- If I were a turtle living in a pond, I would …
- I am afraid to________ becaus,K
- Name on thing you do really well? Give lots of details telling why.
- What is your favorite room in your home and why?
- Describe what it means to be a good neighbor?
- What is your favorite time of day? Why?
- Describe your best day ever?
- How do you deal with people who bug you?
- What excites you?
- Describe your favorite hobby.
- What is your favorite quote by a famous person? Why?
- What is your favorite song and why?
- Climbing trees is…
- I wish trees could ___________ because….
- I want to be a ________ when I grow up. Then I will….
- I wish there were a law that said…..
- I wish I could forget the time I ___________ because….
- I wish I could do ___________ because…..
- Older people are…