SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Use “Story Starters” To Help Young Writers

Very often young children are reluctant writers because they simply don’t know how to start a story. One way to circumvent this is to provide them with a “story starter.”

Story starters are prompts. They can be a picture, a list, an art project, a simple sentence, or a question. They are an interactive tool that can spark writing and creativity.

Here are five examples of easy story starters to use with young writers:

  • Picture starters can be photos, drawings, or art projects that a child can describe. For example, a picture of a puppy might start a great story about how to be a good pet owner. 
  • List starters are great for organizing thoughts about favorite games to play, trips to the museum, etc. A list of three favorite dinosaurs and their characteristics could easily be turned into an interesting nonfiction story.
  • Sentence starters can be the beginning of a fiction, nonfiction, or fantasy story. For example: “This morning my dog started to talk!” “I love playing soccer because…”  “If you were a superhero what would you do?”
  • Event starters such as “Yesterday my cat had three kittens!” “Nana and Grandpa are coming to visit in a week,” or “Mom and Dad told me I’m going to have a baby sister,” make great openings for stories. 
  • Tie writing to reading. After reading a good book together, have your child draw and write about a favorite part, tell the story from a different setting, or write a different ending.

Becoming a good creative writer can have a very positive impact on a child’s success in school—and in the years beyond.

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