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 often 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!
The work you see below has all been edited for spellings and punctuation by myself or by a parent.
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 and third stories are 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 passages below were written in a 6-7 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 his writing, reading them very carefully and making sure everything 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.
The Christmas Tree - we all know it, we all love it, and most of us have one. Their lights shine like angels. The stars glitter like gold under the sea. Each ornament has a meaning. This Christmas I got to decorate the tree as well as carry it home. I love our tree and I hope you love yours too.
This was my essay on trees - Christmas trees to be specific.
The next story is by Herbie, a Year 6 boy, who has been coming to me for nearly a year. He was a very quiet student to start with but over time our relationship has grown and strengthened. I'm so pleased to be able to feature his work here. Herbie wrote the first paragraph in the allotted time of seven minutes and then did a bit more at home after the initial lesson.
His second story about the snowmen was written in an 8 minute session of our lesson.
One day a massive stone-like asteroid hit earth because of a magnetic pull of the trains. It hit the top of the Statue of Liberty. Its head flung across the city.
Twenty years later a man stepped foot in New York. Joe was his name. He had heard a tale that the asteroid had a magnetic force that could take control of gravity. He was on the search for it.
One day a snowman said he would make an army so powerful it would be able to destroy Earth! He was banished from the city of the Yellow Snow. And what he said he made come true.
Months passed in Antarctica. He left his new army in the cold to harden up. Before you knew it, he started a war!
This is Finlay's second year with me. Normally I stop teaching my students at Year 6 but since he had only just started with me and I knew we worked well together, I agreed to continue teaching him through Year 7.
When I first showed Finn this picture he threw two words at me that I’d never heard of and had absolutely no idea how to spell! The two words were: Kracken and Cthulhu.
The former refers to the giant Kracken squid, and the latter is the sea creature God, Cthulhu, created by horror and fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft. The latter is described as a composite of an "octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature". Thank you Finn for introducing me to these creatures!
Here is his writing - it started as an 8 minute session in the lesson and Finn continued it at home.
The tentacles of the beast wrapped around the building. Suddenly the building lifted up. I did not dare look behind me.
"Cthulhu" someone shouted, then all of a sudden people were jumping off. But why? Of course if you looked at Cthulhu you go crazy and die. Then he spread his wings blocking out the sun!
Suddenly with a great gush of wind he took off flying over the city that never slept. Then suddenly he landed next to The Statue of Liberty. He raised his arm and brought it crashing down. He roared out a war cry. With another great gush of wind he took off with me still on the building. We flew over seas and cities until we arrived at a dry, desolate desert, he suddenly grabbed the building I was clutching onto. He raised the structure out of his tentacle beard, to the ground. I jumped off the building - it wasn’t very high. Then I started legging it away from the huge beast. We were nothing to it.
I walked for days - no food no water - only the will to live and not to see the beast again. That thing that poisoned my mind. Distant memories that I had forced out of my head came rushing back. You see my job is to inspect different classified units of the government and one of them my mind had to suppress because it was so incomprehensible. The unit was designed to take care of Cthulhu quite a while ago. They had found out that Cthulhu actually existed, so they build a robot with a function to make sure the pilot would not be killed but would be able to defeat Cthulhu. But it was gonna be no easy task to find it. The facility was in the middle of a desert and if I was lucky enough that beast - no, no that monster - had dumped me in the right desert. I walked for days and days and days until I came to a solitary rock sticking out of the sand which gave me some shelter. I couldn’t remember what the entrance to the facility looked like, then suddenly I saw a hatch which said on it 505. That was the unit that was dealing with Cthulhu. I opened the hatch and descended into the bunker.
It looked like it had been deserted. I kept on going deeper and deeper until I found a locked door seal. I grabbed some of the high-tech weapons that were lying around and blasted through the door. On the other side I saw a massive robot and scientists all around. One of them looked at me and said, “how did you get in here?” Guards grabbed me and took me to the boss, who remembered me. His name was James Sleuth.
I told him how I survived the attack by not looking at Cthulhu. I told him I needed the robot to defeat the beast and he quickly agreed. I rapidly changed into a high-tech suit and I stepped into the robot casing. The roof of the bunker opened, sand falling on the massive robot as I took control. Then suddenly I saw the massive entity above me. I was all safely backed by my tech out so I used my jet packs to fly and tackle it from below. I brought it down. Cthulhu was obviously surprised. It had clearly never faced a foe like this before. Cthulhu adopted a fighting stance then gave off a full force tackle on the robot but I managed to hold my ground.
I must have pulled out a plasma knife and stabbed it into the thing - he whined in pain as it ripped the weapon from its own flesh and threw it back at me. We fought and fought until he ripped my robot arm off. I wasn’t giving up. I drew my plasma gun and shot my last two rounds. I threw the empty gun at the beast then I grabbed my knife and charged in for my final attack. I wedged the knife deep in its skull and it fell to the ground dead.
I had killed Cthulhu. I shut down the robot. I wonder what will be next...?
The next story also by Finlay was written in about 10 minutes during the lesson. We spoke about trying to avoid repeating words that are close by or in the same sentence. He decided that 'explosives' could be an alternative for repeating the word 'bomb'; and 'icy beasts' could be an alternative for 'snowmen'.
The low moans of the monsters was the only sound that filled my head. A failed experiment with the snow gave it consciousness. They mostly took the form of snowmen but they could create arms and legs at will. The only way to destroy was by smashing the ice shard in their bodies.
I was camped at the DIY shop. I was blocked in by the icy beasts. I managed to find the materials to make a bomb. I charged up to the roof with the explosives. There was a sea of snowmen. I threw the bomb into the horde. BOOM! They were gone . . .
Hattie has been coming to me since she was a 6 year old. Her skills have really developed and she is now working independently with confidence and style. The story below was written over two lessons with about ten minutes spent on each section. We spoke about speech marks and having a new line for each new speaker. We also addressed Hattie's tendency to write 'and then . . .' which many children do. She is a child full of enormous energy and creativity and she works fast. Hattie likes to get her ideas down first and then check her work afterwards. I'm the same!
The Frozen Palace Part 1
It was an early morning in a different dimension. There lived two boys and two girls. Their names were Rufus who was fifteen, Daisy who was seven, Olivia who was nine, and Isaac who was twelve. They were a happy group. Isaac had long, long hair; Rufus and Olivia had afros; and Daisy had stuck up hair like a fish. They lived in a big ice palace and they loved living there.
But then one day a villain came. Her name was Scarlett Overkill. She took watches from people’s pockets, money from banks, and froze anybody who made eye contact with her.
The children were walking in the palace gardens and then a big figure rose above them. It was Santa!
“What are you doing here?” asked Daisy.
“We need your help,” said Santa.
“Why?” asked Isaac.
“Scarlett Overkill has been taking all the presents from the children,” said Santa.
But then Olivia said, “Don't worry we will help you Santa. Scarlett's Palace is just a hop, skip away.”
So they all agreed to help Santa and they went over to Scarlett's Palace. It was very gloomy. Then they saw Scarlett. They had a really, really big talk with her.
Santa said, “Why are you taking all the presents from the people?”
“Because”, said Scarlett, “you gave me coal for the last six years Santa.”
“Ok, I will not give you more coal only at least if you give all the presents back to the children. “
So they agreed.
And Daisy, Rufus, Isaac and Olivia went back to the palace and they were very happy to return.
Created and written in Brighton, UK by Hilary Burt.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.