Are you wondering what theme to teach in your home school? Why not try a book based theme?
We were ready to to get started with story writing for our next theme as we love reading books and especially listening to stories at home. So we chose one of our favourite books – Little Red Riding Hood and focused on it as a theme for 2 weeks! We included a lot of role play, sensory and small world play to ensure there was a lot of talk for writing (and to include both my girls in the same learning). I wanted to created lots of talk before writing because of how important it is for children to know the language for story telling before they re-write the actual story. In brief “Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, …is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.”(source) This post will take you through 7steps to get started in teaching story writing for 4-6 year olds with emphasis on Talk for Writing over a 2 week period. It will also feature some fantastic resources we used from Twinkl.*
1. Start with reading the story to each other – Our story of Little Red Riding Hood was the appropriate reading age for my daughter Ammarah, so she enjoyed reading it to us and we enjoyed listening! However for more difficult story books I would read the story to my children. We discussed the story at the end and I asked questions such as: Who was in the story? Who are the characters? What happened in the story? What happened at the end? Where did the story take place? (Sometimes children won’t know how to explain it so I will say “Was it set at the beach or in the woods?”) and so on.
2. Drama / Role Play – We downloaded and printed the awesome character role-play masks from Twinkl’s Story Sack for Little Red Riding Hood which can be found here. They were the perfect size for my kids. We attached lolly sticks to the bottom of the masks with sellotape for the children to hold up as they acted. You can also punch holes on the side and attach string to wear as masks. The girls each played a character and swapped around which allowed the story to be reenacted a few times. In doing so the children picked up the language and speech used in the story such as “Grandma what big ears you have?” “All the better to hear with you my dear!” Even my nearly 3 year old was developing her language and role play skills at this point! (Scroll down to our video to see her in action!)
3. Puppet show – We enjoyed painting the setting on to a big rollof paper (bought from IKEA) focusing on the path in the woods, Grandmother’s house and Little Red Riding Hood’s house. This took up a chunk of our morning and the children enjoyed talking about the setting as they painted and concentrated to paint within the lines. We then used the smaller character puppets cut outs from the story sack the next day. We attached smaller lolly sticks this time. We recorded the puppet show so our girls could look back at their performance. (more on that in the video at the end of this post!)
4. Sensory Small World Play – We set up and made the small word play box together to show the story setting of Little Red Riding Hood. We talked about what we need in the forest etc. This worked fabulously with our youngest too (nearly 3 years old – Hibah) who enjoyed taking her lego toys along the path and retelling the story. This was another way to retell the story of Little Red Riding Hood, this time using small world play. We also had some time to make our own mini story settings in a box lid. See pictures below for more.
5. Story Sequence – Before we were ready to write we needed a visual reference point in our books to help us with our writing. So we used another of the resources from the story sack – story sequence pictures. Ammarah cut out the pictures and rearranged it before sticking them in to remind her of the beginning, middle and end of the story. She drew arrows in between to show the flow of the story and to understand how the story begins and ends.
6. Story Word Mat – By now Ammarah knew the story very well and could retell it from beginning to end! So finally, we were ready to write. The story word mat was fantastic help for writing as it included many of the words that she was likely to use while writing (including character names). Now as this was her first piece of proper story writing from beginning to end, we took breaks in between and discussed the story again before each sentence was written. We also referred back to our picture story sequence to help.
7. Story Planner – Writing Frame – Below you’ll see Ammarah’s final piece of writing. We used the Beginning, Middle End Story Planner Template. I chose the story planner with space for pictures so she could draw her pictures before or after to help her make sense of her writing too. There was a lot of support from me especially when discussing the middle of the story. However she was clear on knowing what to write for both the beginning and end of the story. She used the story word mat and our tricky word wall to help her where needed for writing and spelling. To differentiate for your child you could also write one sentence for each story sequence picture you stick in – so they are describing what each picture shows them. This is a great way to scaffold their learning on how to write a story too. Remember go at your child’s pace. You don’t need to use all the pictures (in fact I selected the pictures I needed from the story sack and printed only those that were relevant for us). Do not make them write the whole story in one sitting! They can write it over a few days if needed. For more on how to teach writing sentences with your children, click on our previous post here.
Watch our Teaching Tips Video below for more on what we did, snippets of role play, our puppet show and small world play in action!
*We have been given a 6 months free subscription to access Twinkl resources – all comments, views and recommendations are my own and resources are selected based on our homeschool learning.
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