Teach children how to write a narrative story – KS1 and KS2
In this article I want to think about how to teach children to write a narrative story. I am more interested in the ways we can encourage children to write their own story that they are excited by than specific grammar issues which vary depending on the age of the child and what curriculum they are following.
(Disclosure – most of the links on this page other than the website recommendations go to Amazon UK and I get a small percentage from them which helps to pay towards to cost of maintaining my websites.)
5-7 year olds
At home I would be looking mainly to concentrate on talking and reading.
Spend time with your child and then talking about their experiences. If you go somewhere can they tell you in what order they did things? What was their favourite aspect of the trip?
Ask them to describe things to you. Get them to use their senses, ask them what something looks like, including colour, shape, whether it looks rough or smooth. Does it make a noise, either on its own or when it comes into contact with something else? Describe any sounds heard. What does it feel like? Does it have a smell? Is it pleasant?
Who did they come into contact with? Could they tell what work people did? What were the clues? What could they tell about people’s characters?
Make this a 2-way process. Give the children your thoughts on these subjects, in a natural chatty way.
When reading books with your child and discuss the story, the characters and the environments. Don’t just read the words but spend time looking at the pictures. What do they notice? Do the pictures tell the same story as the words or do they suggest something different.
Use pictures books such as Guess How much I Love You, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Five Minutes’ Peace, Funnybones, The Jolly Postman, Burglar Bill or Not Now, Bernard!
These have all stood the test of time and with good reason.
Practise telling some stories orally. Ask your child to choose one of the books and tell the story using the pictures as prompts, asking further questions if needed. The questions don’t need to just be about the story, you could ask what they thought a character did at the weekend, what their favourite food might be, what they would like for Christmas or would your child like them as a friend, and why or why not.
Fantasy games – make up stories which your children about their favourite toys.
You can buy packs of themed animals eg ocean sea animals, jungle animals, or a pack of 24 mini-figures representing different professions or cut out some pictures from magazines or print out and cut out pictures from the internet to play with and make up stories with.
Give children nice (age-appropriate) stationary and somewhere to write. Be encouraging and take an interest in their ideas. Don’t be too critical at this stage (or at any time).
Schools often have role-play areas for writing, maybe a shop or the vets. Would your child benefit from something like this at home – even if it is only for an afternoon? Many of us will have had a post-office set of some description, here’s a fairy post-office for something more imaginative, and you could easily make your own up with different papers, envelopes, stamps and a window cut into card-board.
7-11 year olds
For the younger members of this group some of the ideas from the section above will work well, but they can make notes, write chapters etc.
The fantasy playing works very well, and the story telling can be a lot more sophisticated.
Get your child to practise dialogue with their toys before writing it. Mix and match the toys. A teddy bear could interview an astronaut. Inanimate objects could be given voices in Thomas the tank engine style.
Take photographs or short videos and use them as a stimulus to a short story. Use these to story-board the final story.
I like the opportunities offered by some of the story-telling platforms on the web.
StoryJumper https://www.storyjumper.com/ uses a variety of props to create pages, scenes, characters and other objects which then gives the children plenty of material to write about in their online books.
This video will show you how to create a StoryJumper story.
This is free to use online. There is also an option to buy a hard copy of your book.
In the StoryJumper library, you can read or listen to stories that other people have created.
Storybird https://storybird.com/ is similar to storybird in some ways but uses the work of artists to inspire the children so the books are beautiful and I suspect that there are plenty of adults having a go at writing a Storybird book. I know I did. Actually, it is worth doing this so you have some appreciation of how challenging the tasks we set our children are. Also, your children will love your book!
Here is a tutorial for Storybird:
and this tutorial concentrates on a long form book format:
Good readers make good writers.
It is useful to analyse books you read to learn lessons for when we want to write but we should all be able to just read for pleasure as well.
If you want more suggestions for books try these featured books from Amazon UK – but don’t feel you need to stick to the ages. (Some of them are in the wrong category anyway!)
Looking at picture books can lead to some great story writing for older children.
If you liked this please explore some of my other pages
What do you think?
Have you got other suggestions?
Please put them and any other feedback in the comments below and enjoy working and playing with your child!