With a limitless imagination and endless enthusiasm, there is no better author than a small child. Put their natural storytelling skills to paper with these three easy ways to write a story together today. Scroll down to get scribing.
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1. Story Jar
Fill a jar up with small pieces of paper and big ideas. You can list three things, as in: dragon, fireplace, child, or put a starter sentence, i.e., “This is the story of how I lost my hat.” Have each person in the family create a short story from their draw. Parents, you might want to write it down for future reference (awwww).
2. Mad Libs
You can write your own version of these for the kiddos to fill out or print out our fairy-tale themed ones (find them here). Younger kids may need reminding what a noun, adjective and verb are (teachable moment!) but older kids can fill in the blanks on their own. Print more than one and have everyone do theirs at once, then have a storytelling session after to share your creations.
3. Shared Tales
All you need for this one is a pen and a piece of paper. Each person will write one sentence in sequence. You can limit it to a specific number of pages (like 2 or 3) if you want to make sure it doesn’t become the neverending story. Simply kick off this creative session with a sentence such as “Once upon a time there was a” and unleash their imagination. Pass the paper around and have every family member write their one sentence, or if your kids aren’t writing yet just have them tell you and you can be the scribe. You can designate number of sentences per person to keep it fair and square with multiples. This one is great in a group and at family gatherings, because it becomes even funnier if you don’t see every sentence as it builds.
Alternate: Do the above but fold the paper each time so that each person can only see the sentence before them.
4. Reinvent an Old Favorite
Take a classic that the kid’s love and have memorized down off the shelf and read the first page (or paragraph if it’s a chapter book). Instead of finishing the story as it is written, invent a new plot or ending to the tale.
5. Section It Out
Take your time creating a story in stages. Start by choosing a setting: where will the story take place? What does it look like there? Have the kids write 2-3 sentences minimum about their setting. Now work on your character or characters: who is you main character? What are they (boy, girl, robot, dog). Who else is in the book? What do they wear, eat, smell like? Now tackle plot! What will happen in the story? You’ll want an intro, some kind of conflict (i.e. a problem to solve—what will Bear do when he finds out he is out of jam?) and then resolution (Bear’s buddy Snake shows up with marmalade! They dance the night away in The Happy Woods!). You can even work on these one day at a time.
6. Dictionary Draft
Using a dictionary (a real one, the kind that looks like a book!) to randomly select 3-5 words that each kid has to work into their story. Let siblings choose the words for each other. This one has the added bonus of getting learn new words.
Need more lit-inspired fun? Check out our ideas for acting out your favorite story with the kiddos.
What is your favorite way to write a story with your kiddos? Share it with us in the comments below.
words and photo by Amber Guetebier