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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling by Subject
Language Arts for Homeschoolers

Narrative Activities to Jump-start Your Child's
Storytelling and Writing Skills (Beginning Level)

by Julie Shepherd knapp, copyright 2006

These activities and games are designed for reluctant writers and kids
who hate to write.  They provide exercise for narrative skills and present
several ways to ease into low-key writing activities.  The advanced
activities are on another page (see the link at the bottom). Let me know if
you and your children come up with any other fun narration games -- I'd
love to add them to the list :-)

Beginning Narrative Games and Activities

Who am I?
What are they saying?
Picture This
Make a Better Story
Picture Book Improv
DIY Storytelling
What If...?

Descriptions of the Games and Activities

Who am I?
A classic guessing game – choose a character, then the other players
must ask "yes" or "no" questions to figure out who you are. Help your
child think of good questions to ask, such as “Are you a cartoon
character/real person/character from a book?”… “Are you a
child/adult/man/woman?”…  “Are you an animal/dinosaur/robot?”… “Are
you an artist/scientist/author/sports figure?”  "Are you from the
present/past/future?"... Are you a hero or a villain? etc..

“What are they saying?”
Look at photos or pictures in books and magazines, and think of what the
people (or animals) might be saying.  Humorous dialog is the most fun.  If
you can copy the picture, then write your captions, with quotation marks,
and glue them to the picture.  Hang them on the fridge!  

If you find, in doing this activity, that your child has a hard time reading
body language and facial expressions, your child may also benefit from
some of the resources on the Diner  
Help with Social Skills page.   
[You might also want to take a look at information on
Aspergers and
NVLD in the Special Needs section, to see if maybe your child has a few
of the issues related to these disorders.]

Picture This
Choose a picture book where the pictures are elaborate.  Comparing the
story text and the pictures... think of what else (additional details) the
author could have written for each page.  Examples might be adding a
description of the main character's hair color, noting the weather,
describing the look on the characters' faces -- essentially you will be
making the story longer, richer in detail, maybe more interesting :-)   

Spectrum Writing Series
Use a simple writing curriculum (I recommend this Spectrum Series
because the exercises are not busywork -- they are very good practice in
learning to use words to express ideas -- check out the sample pages)
but DO NOT have your child write the answers. Instead, talk about the
answers, and, if you want to,  write down a few of your child's responses.  
The intent is to get used to talking about what could be written :-)

Make a Better Story
Choose a picture book or short chapter book that your child has read.  
Talk about what you and your child liked and didn’t like about the book.  
How might you change it to make it better?  Use the opportunity to talk
about the “characters” and the “plot” of the story.  How would the story
change if the main character was someone else?  Is there a moral or
lesson to be learned from the story?  Would the character reach the
same conclusions if the plot were changed?  What might be learned

Point out to your child that improving upon an existing story can lead to
writing a new story that is very different from the original.  This is how
many authors get ideas for their stories.  Even if an author writes a story
“from scratch” the editing process is the same – trying to make it better
or more interesting than the original version.  If your child is interested,
help them write (or dictate to you), their own version of the story.     

Picture Book Improv
Choose a picture book that your child hasn’t read.  Cover up the text,
and, between the two of you, think up a story to go with the pictures.  
Some children are not inclined to making up fictional stories --  they might
be more interested in using the pictures to teach or tell about a topic.  If
this is the case, chose factual books with photos or illustrations about
animals, nature, science, motorcycles - whatever might interest your child.

Do-It-Yourself Storytelling
Gather a collection of interesting magazine photos or print out a variety
of photos from the Internet (at least 20), focusing on lmages that might
generate story ideas.  Take turns drawing a photo from a hat and
incorporating the photo into a short story that you make up as you go
along.  Start out with a standard beginning, such as "Once upon a time",
or, "Once there was a child", or "Just the other day"... and go from there.  
Humor may help make a really lame story plot fun and interesting ;-) but
remember that some children just are not cut out for creative writing.  
You may need to gather nature or science related photos and create a
report, instead of story -- full of real details and facts.  If you need more
facts, involve your child in your research.

What If...?
Think of funny situations and talk about the repercussions and what
would happen, such as "What if streets were rivers?", "What if candy
grew on bushes?, "What if chairs could talk?" "What if snakes liked ice
cream?  Write down any really funny ideas and make a poster with them.

When these activities are too easy try these:
Advanced Narrative Games and Activities

Or go back to the beginning level:
Help for Kids Who Hate to Write: Word Retrieval  and
Narrative Activities
(back to)
(back to)
special needs
"You don't write because you want to say something,
you write because you have something to say."
~~ F. Scott Fitzgerald