Friday, August 11, 2017

Exploring Story Elements with Kids

by Susan Stephenson,

Delving into the elements of a story can help not just with storytelling, but with children’s reading and writing. Whether they use and understand terms like “complication” and “resolution” or are at the stage of sorting out beginnings, middles and endings, the key I believe is to share LOTS of stories with kids, then help them begin to understand story structure. After they become aware of story elements like setting and character, they can consolidate their learning by taking a text or a story and making changes to it. 

If kids aren’t too sure of story elements, here’s an interactive that uses the story of Cinderella to explore many story elements. ABC Splash have interactives that help kids explore text types, sequencing, story mapping etc and a digi-book from Sydney Story Factory on building stories. Below you will find some ideas of mine that guide children to innovate on the story of The Three Little Pigs.

For kids: Taking a story that’s already written, but changing it somehow, can be lots of fun. You get to piggyback on someone else’s ideas, but change things around so you’re creating something new. Below you will see some ways you can play with the classic story of The Three Little Pigs. You might decide to choose one of these, or combine two or three to help you think up your new tale.

* Change the title of the story. You could have The Three Little Cupcakes or The Four Frantic Fish. Play with titles until you find one you like.

* Change the beginning of the story. Perhaps the main characters are pirates who go to sea, or decide to stay at home with their mother.

* Change the middle of the story. What else could happen besides the wolf doing all that huffing and puffing?

* Change the end of the story. Did the wolf change his ways? Did the pigs behave differently? How will your story end?

* Change the genre. Some people call The Three Little Pigs a fairy tale, others say it’s a fable or a folktale. What do you think? You could re-write The Three Little Pigs as a space opera, an action adventure or a romance.

* Change the characters. In The Three Little Pigs, the characters are all animals, but animals that behave a lot like humans. You could make the characters human, or creatures like aliens or fantasy beings. Or you could have a mixture of characters.

* Change the hero of the story. The hero of The Three Little Pigs is probably the third little pig. What if one of the other pigs was the hero? Or the wolf? or the mother pig? Or a completely different character? You decide.

* Change the villain. Instead of the wolf, you could have a Big Bad Mouse, a teacher or a billionaire. Or you could keep the wolf as the villain but change his personality and the part he plays in the story.

* Change the setting. The setting is where and when a story takes place. You could set your story in a park, a jungle or a shop and the time could when dinosaurs roamed the earth, in 3000AD, or last week.

* Change the main conflict or problem in the story. The wolf wants to eat the pigs and the pigs understandably don’t want this. You could change this to the wolf wanting the pigs to become his servants, or the pigs wanting the wolf to give up pork forever and eat only vegetables.

* After playing with these ideas, take your own version of The Three Little Pigs story, and then ... change it again! You could re-write it as a poem, a song, a dance, or a play - or something completely different.

You might be interested in Creative Prompt - Start with Some Story Elements and Story Bags as Prompts for Storytelling. I also have a free PDF at my website which is a Reader's Theatre version (BookChook-style) of The Three Little Pigs.

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