Recently, I was inspired to pick up Story Starters by Karen Andreola. The subtitle reads, "Helping Children Write Like They've Never Written Before."
Basically, Karen gives you tips on how to work with these story starters with different age and ability kids. She has written short stories without endings and the kids have to finish the story. She gives you really good suggestions for getting the kids to look over their work when they are done the initial writing. For example, one of her checklist items might be to check verbs. The kids have to decide if they are using descriptive action words. When you read the kids' work below you'll see fairly good use of verbs and they didn't really need to change them when given the opportunity. R9 used the word "scurried" on her first time through. What a great word.
This day our story was about a boy who cared for chickens and how he had an especially good, prize-winning hen. On a winter evening, he misses a few chickens when he puts the rest in the hen house and as you can see from the picture below, a fox takes off with his chicken. The kid were left to decide what happens next. So, the story text and the detailed pictures draw the students in and then they get to provide the ending.
E11 loves to write. He typically tells an imaginative tale. I was curious to see if he would enjoy finishing a short story. The results were pretty good.
"Oh no!", thought Walter as he ran outside to see what the noise was. "Maybe a fox caught one."
As soon as he set foot outside, he ran toward the cause of the commotion. There were two chickens on top of the snow mound he had shoveled, trying to escape a starving fox. At this point, the fox was trying to climb up the mound, but every time he tried snow came sliding down on top of his head.
Walter ran toward the fox waving a stick and yelling, "Shoo fox, shoo!"
In one swift movement the fox ran up the mound, grabbed a hen, and ran off into the night.
Walter arrived at the chicken coop panting hard. He checked to see which hen went missing. The missing chicken was Hilda! Walter couldn't believe it. He searched and searched but couldn't find her. Miserably, Walter ushered the last chicken in and closed the door. Then Walter went inside.
As Walter entered the house, his father and sister asked him at the same time, "What happened?" He told them and went to bed.
In the morning, when he went to feed the chickens, there was one chicken who gobbled up a lot more than the others.
"Hilda!", exclaimed Walter. He wondered how he had missed her.
R9 loved this approach! The story takes you in pretty far before letting you go with your own imagination. She wrote the rough draft and they both shared it with us before doing the editing on another day.
Walter jumped out of bed and ran to get Dad. He realized Dad would stop him from going out, so he went out himself.
His sister looked outside and saw a fox. She ran to get Walter. He was not in his room. She looked out the window again. This time she saw Walter pick up a stone and hurl it at the fox, but it missed.
Walter began to run, but the snow slowed him down. His sister ran out to help. There were no sticks, no stones- nothing to throw. Just snow- snowball snow. Walter made snowballs and threw them. The fox was startled. It dropped the chicken and scurried off.
Walter put the chickens in the safety of the hen house. He and his sister went to bed and they never said a word to anyone about it.