Calling the Shots.....All About
With your child, decide whether you want to re-enact an
actual family drama or act out a story that your child
makes up. Let your child sit in the director's chair and
call the shots. It's important that he or she tells the
story. Either video record your family story or take
photographs of key scenes. If you have taken photos,
arrange them with your child's help to tell the story.
Encourage your child to also write down the story. You
may help with titles, credits, and any other special
touches. Share the photo story with family and friends.
Name that Adjective.....Traits of
Good Writing (words)
Help your child practice making word choices by
describing objects in your home or around your
neighborhood. One person selects an object- a tree for
example. Another names a word that could describe the
tree- leafy. The next person names a different
adjective- green. You continue until no one can think of
Sentence PI.....Traits of Good
Play Private Investigator with your child by
investigating one of his or her favorite bedtime
stories. Choose a section of the story, or the whole
story if it's short, and count the number of words in
each sentence. Look for patterns. Look for variety in
sentence lengths and sentence beginnings. Listen for
sound patterns and special effects in the language that
make this book one of their favorites. Like Private
Investigators, try to come to conclusions based on your
research- uncover the mystery of what makes this story
so enjoyable. Later, as you and your child read the
story again, you may feel new appreciation for the
author who carefully crafted all these smooth-reading
With a Computer
If you have a computer and can type, ask your child to
dictate a story as you type it. This way the storyteller
is free to let his or her creative ideas flow, without
worrying about spelling or punctuation. If you don't
have access to a computer, take the story down by hand.
This process could catapult your young writer to new
literary heights that may surprise and please you both!
Life Maps.....Choosing a
Children enjoy making life maps that begin with the day
of their birth. Milestones on the life map can be yearly
birthdays and other special or unusual events.
Naturally, you can make suggestions. However, try to let
your child decide what he or she would like to put on
the map. Talk about possible drawings or photos that
could make the map more interesting and colorful.
Show, Don't Tell.....Revising
Start with a simple sentence that "tells" something. For
example, "It is a cold day." These sentences are easy to
generate. Now, take the telling sentence about the cold
day and turn it into a "show me" sentence. Use the five
senses to add description, and brew up a really
see-your-breath, bone-chilling, finger-numbing,
shivering, freezing, winter day! Compare the original
telling sentence to your "show me" version!
Besides the classic refrigerator-magnet approach to
displaying your child's artwork and writing, consider
these publishing avenues: A binder with clear slip
sheets featuring stories and essays, a video of your
child reading his or her story, a website featuring the
story with any accompanying artwork, a copy of the story
mailed or emailed to interested family.
From Under the Sink.....4 types
Plan a family gathering for telling stories. Each family
member gets something from under the sink in the
kitchen: detergent, sponge, floor cleaner, dusting
spray, cleanser, rag, etc... Begin by having each person
describe his or her object
using words that relate to as many of the five senses as
possible. Next, have each person, imagining to be this
object, tell a personal story:
"I remember when...," "I used to live on the shelf
of...," etc... Have fun telling funny, sad, mysterious,
or fantastic adventure stories. Then get scientific.
Explain what this object is
made of, what is contains, and how it is designed to be
used. Finally, try to persuade
everyone else to get this object, too. Consider what you
would say in a commercial. Why do they need to buy one?
How would it make their life easier, better, safer? Any
Try this family project for a
week. Each member of the family has a small journal
notebook. Each day, for a week, spend some time together
writing down what you did all day. Include as much
detail as you can. Children can write about what they
ate, what happened in school, recess, after school,
during the evening. Adults can write about work,
commuting, errands, meetings, and evening activities. Be
sure to journal through a weekend too. Use your family
journals to record holidays, birthdays, and other
special family times. Take time to share entries.
Gather some photos,
postcards, and other memories from a recent family
outing or event. With your child, explore the pictures
and material. Encourage your child to come up with words
and phrases to label these items in a way that tells the
story of this special time. Supply the paper, tape,
labels, stickers, pens, markers, and pencils. Together,
create a page or two to add to a family scrapbook.
In the End.....Personal
Fire up your child's imagination by completing some
sentences. Begin by using your child's name as the first
word of the sentence. Take turns completing a sentence
with a lively verb and a logical conclusion. For
example, "Jamie leaped over the mud puddle, ...climbed
onto the raft,...snored all night, etc. If you get
stuck, try starting your sentence with another name or
word. When this gets too easy, try stringing the
sentences into a story as you go.
Grocery lists, shopping lists, things-to-do lists-
making lists is a lifetime activity. Invite your child
to join you in creating lists whenever you can. It is a
great organizational skill and also fosters creative
thinking. What am I forgetting? What else should I
include? Careful list making promotes clear thinking.
Try these fun lists: What would you like to do on a
Saturday afternoon? Who would you like to get a letter
from? How would you like to spend a special holiday or
birthday? What could you give someone that wouldn't cost
anything? Name as many blue things as possible.
Ask your child to write a letter, describing
their interests, funny experiences, adventures, friends,
pets, favorite foods, books, articles of clothing,
dreams for the future, hobbies, fears, or any other
information that would be fun to remember. Keep your
child's letter in a safe place until the end of the
year, or their high school reunion, or any other time
that you agree on opening it again!
K-L-M Kenny, Lorie, and
"Talking Alphabet Stories" can go on the road or around
the table. Create your own model or use the following as
My name is Annie, and my friend's name is Alicia.
We come from Allentown, and we eat anchovies.
My name is Bert, and my friend's name is Bob.
We come from Boston, and we eat baked beans.
See if you can get through all 26 letters of the
alphabet. You may want to write it down, and enjoy
reading it later.
Encourage each member of the family to write brief news
reports of important events in their lives at school,
work, home, etc. Try to add a catchy headline to each
story. Include a byline, telling who wrote the story.
Each article should answer the 5 Ws (who, what, where,
when, why) as they apply. Date each story. Whenever you
update your newspaper, save your old news stories in a
Critic's Choice.....Book Reviews
Reviewing helps foster the development of a critical
eye. In a book review, you ask questions: What is the
book about? Why do I like this book? What main ideas did
the author share? Invite each person in your family to
review the latest book he or she has read. It is also
okay to discuss things you didn't like about the book,
and would change. You can also have fun reviewing other
things such as movies, restaurants, stores, family
outings, concerts, museums, TV shows, games, and
Invite your child to join you in a project that requires
following step-by-step directions. Perhaps he or she can
read each step as you go along. Talk about something
that you do automatically. Can you break it up into
steps? Try writing down the steps for some simple
everyday activities: how to get from your house to
school, how to prepare a bowl of cereal, how to feed and
care for a pet, and so on. Then, follow it as written,
to make sure it makes sense.
Dear Sir or Madam.....Business
Invite your child to think of a business that might
deserve a compliment, based on his or her experience.
Suggest writing a letter- either to the deserving
business, or to someone who can give your child
information about a topic of interest, perhaps something
being studied in school. You can find places to write by
looking in the Yellow Pages, visiting a local library,
or surfing the internet.
Plan a family meal or evening in which you will all do
things the way a previous generation would have done
them. Eat a typical meal. Play a game, read a book
written from that time period. For this activity, you
might want to reflect on your own childhood when you
were in third grade. You can also go back to Grandma and
Grandpa's generation. Or, if you are willing to do the
research, Civil War days, the turn of the century.
Invite your child to write the story of your
Find a favorite storybook and re-write it into a play.
Take turns playing your favorite characters, and
remember to tell the story through the characters'
dialogue. Perform this for neighbors or family.
Think of two words that rhyme, like green and machine.
Come up for a meaning of each word, like "grass colored-
engine" Give the two definitions to the people who are
playing with you, and they must guess the rhyming
and Writing New Words
Add new words that you encounter each day to a family
vocabulary list. Put the list where you will see it each
day. Encourage one another to use the new words until
they become a part of your speaking and writing
vocabularies. Visit Daily
Goodies for the word of the day!
Tune In.....Learning to Listen
Make a point of asking your child questions about things
that you hear. It can be as simple as, "Do you hear that
bird cooing or that robin singing?" Help your child
focus and listen for specific sounds, and then find
words to describe the sounds. Share stories about
sounds, music, or news that you heard during the day.
Ask your child to describe what he or she heard that
Write Around Story
Swap.....Continuing a Story
Sit at the table with your family. Have a timer nearby.
Set the timer for three minutes. Each of you will start
your own stories. You can either decide on a common
starting sentence, or just create your own individual
story starter. When the timer rings, you pass your paper
to the person next to you. Everyone will now have
someone else's paper. They must read the story, and then
continue it until the timer rings again. Then, they
switch again. This continues for a few times, and then
you can call "Conclusion Time". This is the last timed
segment, and you must now conclude the story. Share your
stories at the end!
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