Friday, October 22, 2010

Creative Prompt - Start with Some Story Elements

My article today is the seventh in a series of prompts that I hope might spark some creative expression in your kids, and maybe you too. Our first prompt was a general one, where we looked for something to innovate on; our second took a poem as a model; the third used video as a prompt; the fourth started with something we liked; the fifth started with what if; and the sixth looked to nature.

This idea for a prompt has been used by drama and writing teachers for years. Just because it's been around a while doesn't mean we should turn up our noses at it. I found that setting parameters the way this activity does almost forces us to be creative. At the very least, it gets our imagination started and gives it a direction to go in.

We start by developing lists of characters, settings and events. I've done this by writing single elements on cards, having the cards in three separate boxes or hats, and have people choose one from each. Another way is to get your group to partner up and give each other a character, setting and scene. I've given another example in table format above.

Once you've chosen one character, one setting and one event, it's up to you to generate a story based on them. The story could be an oral one (fun for long car trips), a written narrative, a comic, the kernel of a complete adventure in book form, a painting, or an improvised scene acted out by a small group. There's no need to stick closely to your elements, the idea is to get started. But it always amazes me how powerful our imaginations are once we're presented with random ideas and asked to tie them together.

What I did

I closed my eyes and pointed to my elements, receiving hungry monster, pink cloud and a big fight. I had very little time so I zipped over to Kerpoof and created my version of a hungry chookish monster with their drawing pad. Pink cloud was easy. Big fight to come!

{If you and/or your kids respond to this prompt and you'd like me to showcase it on my blog, I would be thrilled to do that. If you post it on your own blog, please let me know (in comments or email, via the Contact Me tab), and I'll add your link to the relevant post.}


  1. Charmaine Clancy22 October, 2010

    Love this prompt, will be using it in the classroom, thanks!

  2. That's great, Charmaine, thanks for letting me know!

  3. Melissa Taylor23 October, 2010

    This is so fantastic, Susan. I love it! If I get something fun from the girls, I'll email you.

  4. I'm so pleased you'll try the prompt, Melissa!

  5. Amy in Peru24 October, 2010

    I haven't commented, but I'm bookmarking these posts for someday use. I love your ideas. Prompts don't have to be very difficult, but sometimes even the simple eludes us ;)

    thank you!

    amy in peru

  6. Amy, I'm so pleased to get that feedback. I realise most people won't have time to follow up on the prompts immediately, but it is good to know that they are useful.

  7. You will not believe this but this is the very activity I am doing with my students in my digital storytelling virtual classroom today! Same prompt with story elements, using Kerpoof. Great minds I tell ya :)

  8. Cool! I hope you'll blog about the results you get. I'd love to peek!


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