When my students have been coming to me for a while (often over a year or two) and I feel we have made good in-roads into their phonic ability and knowledge of high frequency words, I start incorporating some creative writing into the sessions.
I usually only give them 6 or 7 minutes to make a start and then we check the work together. For me one of the most important things are punctuation since this really enables the reader to make sense of the work. Spellings are normally phonically spelt and can be made sense of but I feel full stops and capital letters are really important.
The vital thing from my perspective is to build confidence and give the student space to write without lots of constraints. I want them to have a go, not be afraid of making mistakes, and get to the point where they can get their ideas down on paper.
The children I teach are usually under confident with their writing and they often find this kind of exercise challenging. That's why 6-8 minutes is usually enough!
I wanted this page to celebrate individual's writing and so we start with Ava's story. This started with a 6 minute session within a 45 minute lesson. She loved writing it so much that she took a screen shot of the picture below and continued at home. Both her parents and I were delighted with her newly found enthusiasm for writing!
Her dad has typed up the story (and edited it) but you can see how much she has written and once she'd started how the ideas continued to flow! This is an AMAZING achievement for Ava and it was because of her I created this page!
I start off by showing the student a picture from the fantastic website Pobble365.
We talk about it first and I make sure the child has some ideas. If there are some relevant words I might ask them to copy them down but basically I keep out of their way and give them space to get ideas down on paper.
I find when checking work, it's important not to pick out every single spelling error. That is the quickest way to demoralise anyone. I focus on words that I know the child has learnt in the past or words that can quickly be corrected. We also discuss where the punctuation should go.
Here is Ava's picture and fantastic story . . .
A story by Ava Mustoe, aged 10
Her hands were freezing and her legs were shaking. She could see a bright light shining in her eyes. She got out her camera and took some photos. She could see hills and snow and also the stars above her. But there was something else. It was like a world but different. It was blue and purple and it glowed in the dark. There was also another bright light but this was in the ground. She stepped towards it and looked down the hole. But then she slipped. She had fallen into the bright light. There was a thump. She stood up and looked around. She couldn’t see anything apart from a little red door in a corner of the hole. She started walking towards the door. She took a deep breath and walked through the door. Suddenly she got pulled into darkness.
A while later she opened her eyes. There was a sudden scream. There was a lady standing over her. She also had two bunnies on her shoulders. The girl stood up.
“What’s your name?” the lady screeched.
“Bella” whispered the girl.
“Hmmm, that’s a nice name. Now come with me. It’s going to rain soon”
So Bella followed the woman. They went into a little cottage.
“You can sleep on the straw” said the woman.
So Bella lay on the straw and fell asleep. When Bella woke up she could hear the woman singing. It was as sweet as a bird. “Wait a minute, I know this song.” So Bella walked into the room and started singing with the lady. When they had finished singing the lady asked where Bella had heard that song. My mum sang it to me when I was younger. Hmmm, said the woman. I like the sound of your mum.
“What’s your name?” said Bella.
“Hilary” she whispered.
“I like that name” replied Bella.
“Thank you” said the woman. “Now you must be hungry. Let me get you some food and water”
The next day Bella woke up to bunnies sitting on her lap. Bella walked into the kitchen with the bunnies in her hands.
“How do I get out of here?” asked Bella.
“Well on the other side of this world is a blue door and if you go through it you will be back home” explained Hilary.
“But how do I get there?” asked Bella.
“Don’t worry I’ll take you there. Just let me get some things and then we’ll be on our way”
“Ok” said Bella. “Oh, and thank you”
Hilary smiled and went to get her stuff.
Later on they started walking through the flower beds and onto a stone path. Bella could see butterflies flying around. She could also see hedgehogs resting in the sun. When it got dark they set up a tent and made a fire. They roasted marshmallows on the fire and drank apple juice. Then they went to the tent and fell asleep. The next day they set off again. Soon after they got to the blue door.
“Well I guess this is goodbye then” said Bella.
“Yes” said Hilary.
They had a big hug and said goodbye. Bella took a deep breath and walked through the door. Later on she woke up at the noise of a train. She ran to the train and jumped onto it.
When she got home she rang the doorbell. Her mum answered it. She gave Bella a big hug and took her inside to see the rest of her family.
- The end -
The second story featured is by Rupert, a 10 year old who has been coming to me for about three years. His skills have developed so much over the years and he is now a confident Year 6 ready for the rigours of Secondary School.
The passage below was written in a 7 minute session. Afterwards we discussed a few of the words and he came up with alternatives where two words were repeated in the same sentence. We also spoke about keeping to one tense - in this case the past tense. I love his descriptive writing and how creative he has been.
He took about two or three minutes at the end to check it, reading it very carefully and making sure it all made sense.
The warm evening sun shone down on my hot face. It was the day I climbed a mountain. I was half way up and every part of my body was screaming in pain. Down below there was the calm strong ocean brushing against this magnificent rock. Every step I made, a creak from the furry rope blazed upon me. I felt I could see for a thousand miles as I gazed towards the mountain beside me. The warmth from behind me caused my skin to sweat.
After an hour of climbing I finally made it to the top. Proud of my hard work I shouted, “I did it! I did it!”
Looking at the rocky mountain I felt success course through my blood. Needing to sit down I crouched on the warm grass and rested.
Created and written in Brighton, UK by Hilary Burt.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.