Would you like to read a story about a gorilla who’d like to wear glasses because she thinks it will make her look wise and smart? How about a guinea pig who wants to be a wrestler but her parents won’t let her? Or would you like a story about a slug who wants to beat Usain Bolt in a race? Maybe you’d like to hear about a hippo who wants to be the next prime minister?
These story ideas and more were generated in a series of three workshops I presented to a grade three class. We focused on funny animal stories, so the kids created their main character as an animal.
I read quite a few picture books about animals to begin each session. While the kids laughed at the story, they were also fabulously serious and curious about analysing the characters and the language.
I find that kids are great at creating a character but often they become stuck when it comes to putting that character in a story. Once the kids had their character, we talked about what that character wanted more than anything else in the whole world. Once we have that wish sorted, then we focus on who or what is going to stop that character from getting what they want. After all, it’d be a pretty boring story if the character found what they wanted within the first three sentences.
We also discussed repetition – how writers can use it to build up suspense and help the readers to guess what is coming next. The repetition in Doreen Cronin’s Click, clack, moo – cows that type was particularly popular!
Click, clack, moo.
Click, clack, moo.
Clickety, clack, moo.
The grade three classes were so receptive and open to learning a new way of writing, and their story ideas were absolutely amazing. Watch out bookshops and libraries, there may be some fabulous animal books coming your way!
If you would like me to run a writing workshop for your school, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I teach a range of workshops on different themes to suit different year levels.