Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caedmon the Creative

I am of the belief that every child has the potential to be a creative genius. Their imaginations are astounding. One of the best things that you can do to nurture their creativity (and develop a valuable skill) is to teach your child to tell a story. To get started, you can tell a story back and forth. You add a line, then they add a line. You can say things like, "We need to think of a setting. Where do we want our story to take place? At the beach, in a jungle, in a hot desert?" 

Then you can say, "Who are the characters in our story going to be?" Our stories tend to be full of superheros...not as much variety as one would hope for as of yet! :-)

After you have the setting and the characters, you can start to tell the story. They always turn out really funny by going back and forth. You can talk to your child about how every good story needs some kind of problem and then a solution.

This is a great game to play in the car or over dinner.

Storytelling like this prepares our kids to be great writers. When I taught kindergarten, I wanted my children to see themselves as "Writers". Many of them didn't even know their ABC's but, by-golly, they thought they were writers because they had a story to tell. Getting the words on paper is just the details. It was so important to me that they didn't get bogged down in their efforts to form letters or sound out words that they lost their story.

So how do you do that? How do you teach a child to write who can barely form letters?

You teach them to draw their story!

I got Caedmon a spiral notebook (Star Wars, of course) for his writing journal. About twice a week, we pull it out and add another story to this treasure chest. I draw a line horizontally across the middle of the page. He draws his story on top of the line and then he dictates his story to me as I write the words on the bottom half of the page.

Is he always eager to do this? No. Because it takes a lot of mental energy and focus to do it.

Are our stories always coherent? No. They are rarely linear and often make no sense at all.

Is he learning a valuable skill? Absolutely.

Here are a few examples of stories we've come up with:

By having the child dictate the story to you and then reading it back to them, you are teaching them that
  • letters/words have meaning,
  • left to right reading,
  • one to one correspondence in pointing to words.
As your child advances, you can have them help you think of the beginning sounds to various words, recognize sight words, and eventually sound out words by themselves (that is closer to the middle/end of kindergarten for most kids). Don't get bogged down in sounding our words and miss the story!

Logistical details:
  • I set my timer for 15 minutes. Caedmon has to sit at his little table and draw his story for the entire 15 minutes. Even if he's "done" early, he has to continue to add details.
  • Sammy and I do some type of activity together while Caedmon "writes" his story. Read, puzzles, etc.
  • When the timer beeps, Sammy begins an independent activity for about 15 minutes while Caedmon and I work on the words to his story. Sammy sits on a blanket with his activity in the same room where we are.
  • I try to do this on Monday and Wednesday mornings. 
  • I would not attempt this particular activity with a child under the age of 4. Younger children may still like to draw a picture and have you label what they drew. But the concept of writing a story is a little advanced. I would just stick to orally creating stories until their language skills and storytelling abilities are a little more solidified.
Most importantly, keep it fun! Trying to get a story out of a child's mind and onto a piece of paper can be frustrating if you let it. Some days Caedmon needs a little more assistance and prompting. Other days he comes up with the whole thing on his own. The goal of the activity is to train your child to think like a writer and believe that they have a story to tell!


Cristine said...

Loved it Stacie!

Mandy said...

Love this! Such a great method. Good job Caedmon!!!