If you are working on narrative writing with your children, make sure you take a look at Part 1 of this series, where I shared some ways that you can introduce this topic and help your kids to get their writing started. Those ideas will help your children to understand what a narrative is and how to write one. However, once they begin putting a narrative together there is still a lot of work to do. In today’s post I have another list of tips to share with you that focus more on helping your children to develop their narratives to make them exceptional!
Analyse Other Stories
As obvious as it may seem, analysing other stories is a step that is sometimes skipped. Teachers have lots of work to get through and it can be tempting to get the kids straight into producing something tangible, but there is so much value in taking the time to analyse other narratives with your children. I like studying books in depth through book studies. Book studies are great for using with a whole class of students or with your child working individually from home. They can take a while to put together though, so if you’re after some that you can get straight into with your children then take a look at my bundle of book studies here. It includes resources to suit some of my favourite books for kids like Peter Pan (by J. M. Barrie), The Enchanted Wood (by Enid Blyton), The Wizard of Oz (by L. Frank Baum) and the underrated Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (by Roald Dahl). What excellent examples of quality narratives!
Help Children to Use Interesting Words
A technique that will turn a boring narrative into something attention-grabbing is making use of interesting words. This should be one of the things we regularly highlight to our children. One way that I have helped my students to do this is through the use of word poster displays like the ones in this set. This gives children plenty of options to start with as they begin to explore different words.
Have a Word Wall on Display
I’ve talked about the power of displays when teaching grammar in a previous post, and how word walls can help teach children decoding skills, but word walls are a great way to help children broaden their vocabulary for use in their writing too! As with the poster displays, word walls give kids a quick reference to some of the word options available to them. You can even encourage them to use a certain number of words from the word wall each time they write a narrative. I have a set of cards you can use for setting up a ‘feelings and emotions’ themed word wall available here.
Practise Identifying the Complication & Resolution
This idea is similar to analysing stories, but instead of working through a novel with your students, you might simply need to give them a single-page story to work with at first. Simple narratives are helpful for students who find it difficult to identify the complication and resolution. By using simple texts to repeatedly assist them in recognising the complication and resolution in narratives, you are helping them to become confident enough to then analyse longer novels. I have a fun set of stories here that you can use for this activity. Plus, they each focus on particular phonetic sounds too so you can work on spelling and writing at the same time!
Implement Daily 5 Rotations
Daily 5 is a program that uses a daily routine where students can rotate between five different English activities, usually: word work, reading to someone, individual reading, listening to reading or working on writing. Once you have Daily 5 (or a similar routine of literacy stations) as part of your schedule each day, it becomes easy to swap the activities to suit what you are working on in your English lessons. For example, to help your students with narrative writing, make sure the three reading stations include narratives. Then, their ‘work on writing’ task can be working on a narrative, and their ‘word work’ task can be focusing on descriptive words that they can use in their narratives. If you want to start using Daily 5 in your classroom, I have a starter kit that you can find to help you set up here.
Use a Step-by-Step Guide
Step-by-step guides are useful to so many areas of learning – and learning to write narratives is no exception. By breaking the writing process down into smaller, more manageable stages, you’re giving your children more opportunities to make progress with their writing. You can use step-by-step guides to focus on the whole narrative, or on each part of a narrative. I have a resource available here that helps guide kids as they plan the setting, complication and resolution.
Try Peer Editing
When it comes to writing narratives, the process of revising and editing is important. Sometimes children can rush through this process or may simply find it hard to pick up on things that need to be changed in their own writing. That’s where peer editing comes in. With the proper set up, peer editing can be an effective way to not only have students work together to improve their writing, but also to give them practice in identifying where writing can be improved. A simple template like this one will help you get peer editing started in your classroom.
Set a Challenge
I’ve often talked about how setting a learning challenge can be a helpful motivator for kids, whether in maths (read more in this previous post) or in English. I like to set holiday literacy challenges like this one to keep kids writing! If you want to adjust your challenge to cater specifically to narrative writing though, that’s simple to do. Just use all of the tips I’ve shared in part 1 and part 2 of this narrative writing series to inspire the challenges you’d like to set and then your kids will have so many options to help them write those narratives!
I hope you enjoy using these tips as you navigate narrative writing with your children! Use the links to buy your own copies of the resources I’ve referenced.
If you’d like to learn about using choice boards for ELA Assessment, take a look at this post.
Have a question or a request? You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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