Teach children how to write a narrative story

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.

Owl Babies
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.

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Stick Man

The World’s Worst Children 3 by David Walliams,
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway (book 12),

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History,

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Joke Book
Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2: 100 more stories of extraordinary women

Tom Gates: Biscuits, Bands and Very Big Plans

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.

Books for 5 year olds

Books for 6 year olds

Books for 7 year olds

Books for 8 year olds

Books for 9 year olds

Books for 10 year olds

Books for 11 year olds


If you liked this please explore some of my other pages

How to teach multiplication tables

Affirmations I Am Enough

Online Fraction Games

Geography Teaching Resources

Do Vision Boards Work?

Dolphin Facts for Kids

Pirate Costumes for Kids

European Countries and Capitals

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!



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9 thoughts on “Teach children how to write a narrative story”

  1. Hi Julia
    What a lovely post and I just loved the videos.
    I am a “new” grandfather and sadly have so many regrets about not reading and exploring with my own children during those first informative years. Life got in the way and … well I was just slack and lazy.
    Now that I am a grandparent and have more time on my hands and less pressure I have vowed to do exactly as described in your post.
    I think children’s minds are so active and fertile and soooo entertaining that I will probably have more fun than them.
    I’ll never get my children’s early years back but know I can improve with the next generation.
    Thank you so much for this.

    1. Hi Lawrence,

      Thank you for your encouraging words!

      I’m glad you found my post useful.  There are so many amazing resources available, but at the end of the day love and care from family members is the most important.

      I’m sure you will have a delightful time with your new grandchild and that they will love being with you. 

      All the best!


  2. Hey Julia,

    thanks for sharing your thoughts on this particular topic! I like your ideas and inspiration. My son is three years old now and far away from “writing”, but I like to discuss the stories that I read for him together with him and hope this approach will benefit his fantasy! Have you ever heard of “story cubes”? I’ve written about them in one of my blog posts and I think they are an incredible tool to fire your own and your kid’s ability to come up with a story!!!


    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m sure your approach with your son is absolutely right.  

      I have heard of story cubes and have used them in the past but I know there is far more variety now than there used to be.  I will add this to my list of subjects that I am planning to explore.

      All the best with your blog – I hope you are enjoying writing it!

      Thank you!!


  3. I think children possess a mind where it is pure ,elegant  and simple.Where it not influence by any thoughts.this leads to endless possible where there is no vivid obstacle and logical thinking.Just pure imagination, where creating a story such as sci-fi based on the imagination .I think teaching them early on are great where they could capture their own mind with a medium where we could vision their pure thoughts and story .They might be the next Walt Disney,Who knows.

    1. Yes we never know when we are encountering genius in the making and maybe not even recognising it.

      let’s hope we can always encourage our children and not stifle their creativity!

  4. Found your article wonderful. I have never heard of story jumper before. My son now an adult would have benefited from something like story jumper. He had the hardest time in school as he has an auditory processing disorder. Made it hard for him to comprehend the written word and learn spelling and grammer in general. He did love Thomas the tank engine though. With him being a visual learner something like story jumper and the different props would have made it fun. 

    Wonderful article.

    1. Hi Cathy, yes there is so much more more available now.

      I hope your son is doing well in his chosen field and using his gifts in ways he enjoys.

      We can all do so much more when we allowed to learn and grow in ways which suit us.

      All the best


  5. You’re a life saver. Every time I come to your site, I always found something useful for me, my children, and grandchildren. I actually showed my grandson the elephant video and he let me play it more than once.

    This time, I found the storybird. My daughter is required to write a story book in her school and we need illustrations. I really love this. Now, story making would be easier for her. Thanks for showing this.

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