For the young child, who believes in tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and invisible friends, creative writing begins not with ideas but a clear and easy writing process. A writing process easily understood and repeated over time, allows them to tell the stories hidden in their imagination.
The following process has been used in first to fourth grade classrooms.
The Writing Process.
Choose a topic ahead of time and set out picture books, science books, and story books. Encourage the children to look at them during the week before the writing activity.
On the first day, read a variety of passages from the books that provides ideas for writing.
Next, put an open-ended question on the board related to the passages you read. If the topic is ‘spring’, and you read passages about the coming of spring, it might be asked: “What happens in nature when spring arrives?” List their answers as short sentences. ‘Squirrels leave their winter nests.’ ‘Leaves begin to unfold.’ ‘The air gets warmer.’ ‘Ice melts.’
After several sentences are recorded, provide opportunities for successful participation. Ask, “Who will come up and point to the word ‘squirrels’? ‘Who will read this sentence?’ At the height of excited involvement, stop. Compliment them. (Save those sentences!)
The next day, begin with the children rereading the sentences. Have them add words to make the sentences more interesting. (See the blog article ‘Young Writers: Enriching Sentences’. If you have done this activity a few times, they will enrich the sentences easily. )
Introduce and define an opening and closing sentence. Write an example of each. Identify a title. Perhaps have them identify a couple of titles. Make sure they are super familiar with the words. Compliment them.
For the next two days, let them write. If they are just beginning, take it step by step. Let those who can, go ahead of you.
“Everyone write down an opening sentence, either mine or one that you make up.”
“Choose and write three to four sentences that tell about the opening sentence.”
“Write a closing sentence, yours or mine.”
When there is time, let them share one of their favorite sentences.
On the final day, (For me, this was Friday.) offer options that allow each child to finish their work, make it better, or illustrate it.
1. Finish your first draft.
2. Make a final copy.
3. Draw a picture(s).
4. Share your story with someone.
3. Read more in the reference books. Tell the class new ideas you found out.
As this process is repeated and becomes clear to each child, it builds a solid foundation. Over time, expand and enrich it. It is not static! It grows with you and your class.
Soon you will be reading the whimsical tales found in their imagination.