According to common core curriculum standards, second graders must understand the concept of a beginning, middle and end to a story. They should be able to write stories using a correct sequence of events, describe actions, feelings and thoughts of characters, and use transitional words to signal event order. Writing their own books is an excellent way to practice these skills.
Build the Book
Young writers need a lot of space to work with, so a good medium for creating a book would be 11-inch by 14-inch ledger paper stacked together and folded in half to make the pages of the book. Use ledger-size card stock as the cover. Place the folded pages inside the folded cardstock and staple down the center using a long-reach stapler. Distribute the books to the students. Have them each design a cover and title page and then fill in the rest of the pages with their stories.
Encourage students to develop a main character. Who do they want the story to be about? Perhaps it will be a puppy named Spot or a little girl named Sally. Ask them to describe what Sally looks like. What does she like to do? What is she doing on the particular day that the story takes place? Then, create another character. What do Sally and the other character talk about? Encourage students to create a dialogue between them. Drawing pictures of the characters will help your students bring them to life.
Create a Setting
Have students place their new characters in a setting: Where are Sally and her friend? Are they in school, on a farm, at the beach? What are they doing there? What time of day is it? Is it today? Is it in the past? The future? Have them write a description of the time and place of their story. Having students illustrate the setting will help motivate them to continue writing the story. Use several types of media, such as crayons, pastels, watercolor or collage. Show examples of illustrations in picture books to give them inspiration.
Structure a Plot
The foundation for teaching plot is helping students understand every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Ask students to make up a situation for their characters. What happens in the beginning of the story? Perhaps Sally’s mother asks her to feed the dog. After students create a situation for the character in the setting, tell them to make up a problem the main character has. Perhaps Sally can’t find the dog. Explain that this problem will happen in the middle of the story. After students create the problem, they must find a solution and bring the story to an end. Using graphic organizers will help young writers get their thoughts in order.
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