The most effective and enjoyable way to ease children into writing is to introduce story writing through art. Reading stories is heaps of fun. Writing stories also needs to be enjoyable. This method makes writing fun.
Even very young children can begin to develop story telling skills through this method.
How to Introduce Story Writing Through Art
Story writing through art involves three simple steps:
The child creates a drawing or some form of artwork.
The child tells the story about what’s going on in his/her picture.
Adults may need to help scaffold children through this step by asking open-ended questions (who, where, how, why, what?)
By asking questions and encouraging children to talk more about their work, children’s vocabulary and language skills will be extended.
An adult acts as a scribe for the child, recording his or her words on paper.
Later, as a child’s cognitive and fine motor skills develop, the task of writing can be taken on by the child.
I have used this method for many years and with children of all ages. When a child is old enough to talk about what they’re drawing, then it’s time to start writing what they say – even if it’s only a word or two.
Tips for Starting Reluctant Story Writers
Most times, given a piece of paper and drawing implements, children will get to work without a problem. However, there are times when it’s helpful to provide some inspiration. Games can be helpful at such times. So can looking at story books.
Sometimes, it helps just to sit down next to a child and start drawing yourself, talking about what you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t draw. It’s the participation and enthusiasm with which you approach the task that will matter most, not the end result. So relax, draw and enjoy!
Where To Write?
If there’s enough blank space on the drawing, I often write the words directly on the child’s artwork. However, I’ve found that it’s always best to ask the child if it’s okay to do this as this shows respect for the work they’ve put into their art. Often the empty spaces of the art work are as important as the rest of the picture.
Alternatively, write on a separate sheet of paper that can later be displayed next to the child’s artwork.
In this example, David started to tell the story which I wrote along the top of his work. However, the story kept on going and going. He was more than happy to have the words actually ‘invade’ his drawing and become part of the work. Had I have known it was going to be novel-length, I would have written on a separate page. As it was, I was thrilled that he just kept on talking. Great for language development.
Extending Language Skills
There are times when I love to record a child’s words exactly as they are spoken. This is especially important if you want to see a child’s progress in regards to language skills and comprehension.
There are other times, however, that it’s great to talk with children about different words they can use. For example, one of my sons said that “the bomb wanted to bomb the butterfly up.” After we talked for a little about different phrases, he decided it would be more interesting to say, “the bomb wanted to blow the butterfly up”.
(Okay – I know that the poor butterfly didn’t come out of the situation any better off … sorry to all lovers of innocent, delicate butterflies. What can I say? It was his story. Also … he’s a boy and these days everything gets ‘blown up’!)
When discussing alternatives for words or phrases, it’s important that the child makes the final choice. After all, the story belongs to the child not to the adult who is merely acting as a scribe. Ah, the things we get to do as parents and teachers. All that education we have been through and we’re reduced to acting as a scribe!
The more opportunities children have to draw, talk and create stories, the more elaborate their stories will become. This takes time and develops along with other skills (e.g., language and cognitive skills). However, it all begins when children are very young.
I hope you’ll enjoy doing this with your child. I love recording the boys’ stories as their stories give me an insight into the boys’ understanding and comprehension of the different issues and the world around them. I also learn more about what the boys are currently interested in.
How do you encourage story writing with your youngsters? I’d love to hear of other methods that have worked well for you. You’re welcome to include a link to your blog in the comments section below, or put a link on our facebook page.
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