Once children learn the ins and outs of handwriting, spelling and grammar rules, they can move on to more entertaining activities, such as creative writing. While creative writing leaves room for children to write about what they know and what they are interested in, it doesn't mean the skill is easy to grasp. Lay the groundwork for successful creative writing by doing a few simple activities that are also enjoyable and educational.
It's fairly easy for most students to come up with a story off the top of their heads, but it's much harder for students to be creative when someone else has done some of the writing. Ask each student to write the first sentence or two of a story, and give them about five minutes to do so. Set a timer, and let the students know that when the timer dings, they'll immediately swap stories with the person sitting next to them. Set the timer again, and give the students another few minutes to add to the story their peer already started. Swap four or five more times and then have each student get their own story back. Let the students share their creative stories by reading them out loud to the class.
Cut out enough magazine pictures to give each student six to eight pictures. Ask the students to write a story that includes each of the pictures in some way. You might also ask the students to through magazines and choose six to eight pictures to swap with a peer. Another magazine prompt idea would be to hang several magazine pictures somewhere in your classroom and ask all of the students to use the same pictures. It's interesting to see how many different stories you get even when students are using the same prompts.
Use a variety of prompts to spur your students' imagination and to boost their creative writing skills. Give each student a specific character, such as a princess, a soldier or a magic horse, and ask them to spin a tale that focuses on that character. You might provide a setting, such as a castle, an underwater grotto or a hospital, and ask the students to come up with a story that takes place in that setting. Another prompt you might use would be a specific word, such as slimy, slippery or freezing, and see what kind of stories your students come up with based on just that word.
Write several plots, such as a UFO crashing into school or a school bus becoming a time machine, on index cards. For each creative writing lesson, ask each student to draw a card and craft a story based on the plot. Ask the students to write their own plots on index cards and trade as student-driven way to help the children come up with new stories. You might also ask each student to choose a famous story, such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or "The Tortoise and the Hare," and write an alternate ending to the story.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.