Children begin crafting stories almost as soon as they begin writing. With the combination of their capacity for imagination and fantasy and the explosion of new vocabulary and grammar, even first grade students will often jump at the chance to create their own stories, no matter how short or simplistic. However, from about third or fourth grade, your students should be able to write more sophisticated stories that are broken into separate paragraphs, which are also called narrative essays.
Basic Elements of a Story
When teaching how to write a story, you can have students first focus on answering the wh-questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. You can take books or stories that the class has read and chart the answers to these questions in a bubble diagram. Write the name of the story in a large bubble and draw lines from that bubble to smaller surrounding bubbles that answer the wh-questions. By demonstrating how each story can be broken down into separate pieces, you can teach students the basic elements of storytelling.
Writing the Introduction
Assigning a topic such as a summer vacation, you can have students complete a bubble diagram in preparing to write their own story. The students should begin writing with an introductory paragraph, including a narrative hook, a sentence or two that draws in the reader. You can look for examples of this in the stories you've already read and diagrammed with your class. Give students plenty of time to focus on writing these sentences.
Writing the Body
For younger students who are just beginning to learn how to write a narrative essay, you may only require three body paragraphs, while older students can be encouraged to write five or more body paragraphs. The body of a narrative essay is comprised of the plot or the action that is happening in the story. Students may find it easier to organize their narrative essays chronologically to begin with. Help the students break up their paragraphs into logical sections -- each paragraph should be five to eight sentences long, and should only include one complete idea.
Writing the Conclusion
The conclusion is the last paragraph in the narrative essay and usually has one of two main functions. Students can can give a moral or a lesson to their story in the concluding paragraph. Alternatively, they can predict something that might happen in the future as a result of the actions in the story. Remind students that their conclusion should be no longer than one of the body paragraphs and it should effectively bring the action in the story to a close.
- Children WebMD: When Should Kids Learn to Read, Write, and Do Math?
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Paragraphs and Paragraphing
- Read Write Think: Help a Child Write a Story
- Fourth Grade in California Public Schools and the Common Core State Standards
- Professional Development Service for Teachers: Narrative Genre
- Professional Development Service for Teachers: First Steps - Writing
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