I recently found this fabulous little video... my children loved it and we talked about the sparkle being our imagination, which they could relate to.
I love how they add a drawing each time and use it to tell the story, it is a fantastic little video to teach children about the storytelling process.
We watched the video together a couple of times.
I then modelled how this could be done, by drawing one picture at a time and telling the story as I went. First I drew a princess "once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess." I then drew a volcano. "This beautiful princess lived underneath a sleepy volcano." I then added some lava to the volcano "One day the sleepy volcano erupted"....you get the idea. Each time I added a picture, I added a new piece to my story. All out loud, so no need to write it down.
I then modelled how this could be done with a factual story. Focusing in on beginning, middle and end and using the opportunity to add interesting vocab in.
Having spent about 10 minutes together on the mat (about the length of time that wriggles start to happen and probably four minutes more than their optimum concentration time 😁) I gave them each a piece of paper to draw their story onto, asking them to focus on on one picture at a time and quickly showing them how I would number the pictures.
They spent a while doing this and it was brilliant to hear them telling their stories out loud to themselves, most focused in on an imaginary story, but some chose to write about something completely different.
We had a short play time and then came back together to share our story with a partner, using our piece of paper. This was the end of what they were required to do. I then said that if they felt they would like a challenge they could turn their paper over and have a go at turning that fabulous story into words. I was surprised to see most of the class go away to do this in some shape or form.
This little girl has almost had six months at school. The freedom to write, to challenge herself as she sees fit, to not feel pressure has enabled her to flourish. I love this photo because she is showing me she has established the good habit of reading her story back so it makes sense and she knows what to write next. If you look below at her sample you will see she has inserted a word after reading her story through again, this is not something she has been directly 'taught' but something she has picked up in her own time.
Hard to see, but this is her finished story. It is about a princess going to market who forgot to be quiet when she arrived back home, and awoke the dragon.
This was her planning, her story in pictures :)
I was so impressed by the persistence they showed. They are not afraid to simply have a go and get their ideas down on paper, and I think that as a teacher when teaching children to write this is the greatest gift I can give to them.
Very different levels of work, one an inventor, while one is still exploring the writing process and recording letters...both happy to write and pleased with their efforts. No teacher pen mark in sight!
These three sat and wrote for an extended time, at least 20 minutes. Not because they were required to, but because they wanted to. They knew they could return to their play at any time they wanted to.
I was so pleased with this session. Simply by linking the storytelling to drawing the pictures, one by one to add to the story I was able to show children how they can extend on their ideas and start to develop the concept of a beginning, middle and end...all without modelling any writing at all. For those children that were more than ready for this step it saw an immediate lengthening of their stories and an increase in the detail used. I was able to talk to them afterwards about sentences and using full stops, and perhaps other punctuation if needed. While they were writing I was able to 'formally' write out the story I had just told them through pictures at the beginning so that they could see what it would look like written down.
The true joy of a play-based classroom is this flexibility. I have time to sit individually with children that need it, I have time to chat with a group that is ready to extend on ideas, I have time because I know that while I am working with a few children, the rest are gainfully employed in the best learning that they can possibly be doing...play.
I am not obsessed with assessing this, these are not writing samples, this is a process and that is where the real learning happens...it is the journey, not the end that is important.
There are always more steps to take, but if we concentrate on where they need to be, we miss where they are right now, we miss the joy that is the journey and we take value away from the power of learning that has happened in that moment.