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Story Writing Lesson Plan, Planning Sheet for KS2

Story Writing Lesson Plan, Planning Sheet for KS2

Subject: English

Age range: 7-11

Resource type: Lesson (complete)


Last updated

11 November 2013

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32 good story starters for KS2 and free writing

Young girl story writing

We’ve put together some good story starters for KS2 to help your pupils with writer’s block. We’ve also got KS1 story starters covered too, if you have some younger pupils.

Read past the story starters and you’ll also find a guide to free writing that you can use alongside the story starters. Jump start your story writing lessons in KS2 today!

What are story starters?

A word or words that begins a story. Intentionally opened ended, they point children towards a particular theme or situation and can remove the tricky initial phase of story writing.

Ideal story starters for KS2

  • The three of them peered into the dark cave.
  • Suddenly, it turned around and faced her.
  • Time stopped. People stopped. Cars stopped. Everything around me paused, frozen in time.
  • The creature screamed and ran towards them.
  • Her stomach dropped.
  • I had never seen an alien. But I guess there’s a first time for everything.
  • Am I in hell?
  • As he walked along the cold, dark night, a rustling began from the trees…
  • Then, a flash.
  • Ben is 8, but in his world, that means something very different.
  • This time she woke up early to try and catch it out. The clock struck 7. It was time…
  • A hot, tingling sensation worked it’s way up my spine. It couldn’t be, could it?
  • It was exactly as I feared.
  • “We’ve been waiting a long time” Mum said. “Where on earth has he got to?”
  • I sat on the grass and watched as it flailed in the wind.
  • It was the smell that hit her first. She knew, long before she could see it, exactly what was next.
  • He dashed down the stairs, as fast as his legs could carry him. The post had arrived, but was it what he’d hoped for?
  • “Help!” A frightened shriek came from inside. I crept towards the door…
  • “Can you see that?” He asked. I could barely believe it, but…
  • It was a cold and miserable morning. The clouds were low and chill and setting in. But still, we couldn’t stop due to the weather.
  • “Welcome.” We all looked round in awe. “This is the future.”
  • That familiar feeling returned, as if I was being watched. What was out there?
  • The rumours were true. The warnings were real and the time has come. Were we ready for what was about to happen?
  • The three friends set out on their journey, with nothing but each other to help them for what lied ahead.
  • The car lurched down the road when suddenly a thud came from below.
  • The tap on my shoulder woke me. “Shhh” she said with a finger pressed to her lips. “Follow me”.
  • Outside, the sun was shining, with children and adults alike basking in its warm glow. For Caroline, she could only watch on with her nose pressed against the window.
  • Sally looked around the spaceship, eyes widening with each step. She had never seen anything like it.
  • “Will you keep it down!” Grandpa thudded from downstairs with his walking stick. But of course, it wasn’t me making all the noise.
  • It was the first time I’d been on holiday. I stood for a moment and took it all in. The first thing I noticed was…
  • Outside, the leaves were falling and the grass was turning into a murky brown. Out went summer barbecues and in came Autumn dew.
  • I felt an odd sensation in my shoe.

All children need is a tiny prod in the right direction and they will come back with the most amazing tales for you to laugh, cringe, wince or cry at! Feel free to expand upon and adapt our examples; we are only prodding you to get the creative juices flowing.

Free writing to help with story writing

If after you have given children story starters, they are still struggling, it could be a confidence issue. Free writing is a fantastic way of freeing children of their own worries over their own writing.

Principles of free writing

Free writing is pretty much what it says on the tin. But there are some principles to stand by to ensure free writing has the desired effect of kick-starting creative juices. Children are given a writing implement (whatever they feel most comfortable with) and something to write on and told to write. Just write. Here’s a few pointers to make clear to children before they begin.

  • Don’t stop writing during the allotted time.
  • You’re going to time the free write and encourage those who stop to think to keep going.
  • If that means writing the same word or letters over and over until a new thought comes into the writer’s head, then so be it.
  • The work won’t be marked, or even looked at if the writer doesn’t want it to.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar doesn’t matter.

Last tip: if your class are adhering to the rules okay, have a go yourself! It’s really good practice to have a go at the activity you expect your pupils to have a go at, plus it’s really enjoyable!

It’s good to start off with short one-minute bursts of free writing in the beginning. Demonstrate you mean what you say with marking, SPaG and reading out: it’s an unusual experience for pupils for their work not to be scrutinised. This activity will help pupils empty their head of worries, ruminating thoughts and distractions from their writing. It might also provide them with inspiration for story writing. Have a go at free writing before beginning any creative writing session, or even use it to begin a story. Provide them with the story starter and then get them to continue the story writing during the free write. It’s only a minute or two and could make all the difference to their writing.

<a href="https://blog.hope-education.co.uk/author/talitha-mclachlan/" target="_self">Talitha McLachlan</a>

Talitha McLachlan

Hope Education writer

Ideas for Teaching & Learning | Primary

23 september 2020.

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Story Mountain – Teaching this story structure in KS2 creative writing

Careful story planning doesn't mean children have to squash their creativity – quite the opposite, in fact....

By Sue Drury

Last updated 11 September 2020

Writing a story should be like an enjoyable journey. You should know where you’re starting and where you’re going to finish. You should also plan some interim destinations along the way. Precisely how you get to each staging post is up to you and could even be partly led by your characters.

Nevertheless, you need to start with a plan and this is something that is especially important to drill into your pupils. Children tend to love telling or writing stories and their instinct is to launch straight into each new tale with unbridled enthusiasm.

However, if you’ve ever had the misfortune to hear or read a child’s unplanned story, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

Here are a few tips for helping to ensure that you won’t be wearing a painfully fixed smile or propping your eyelids up with matchsticks next time you encounter an enthusiastic young storyteller.

Which story plan?

As with so many things in life, there are plenty of ways to plan a story. Different approaches often suit particular genres and it helps to pick and choose accordingly.

Basic story structure

Even so, a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. To expand this a little further, many stories follow the ‘story mountain’ approach, whereby the dramatic tension of the plot starts low, then climbs steadily to its apex before returning, more or less to normality – sea level, if you like.

Depending on the particular story mountain template you use, this journey is often broken into five stages: opening (where you introduce the characters and setting), build up, problem(s), climax and resolution.

Early steps with familiar stories

A good way to introduce young writers to the idea of story structure is through oral storytelling, which also addresses those objectives about saying aloud what you intend to write. We have an attractive set of storytelling cards for Key Stage 1 pupils to help them spark these discussions and take their first steps along the road to effective planning. There are even some blank ones to allow pupils to come up with their own characters, settings and so on.

Story planning resources

The importance of rehearsing your ideas before you write does not diminish when the pupils reach Year 3, even if the expectation might be for them to have started putting plans down on paper. That is why we offer storytelling cards for lower key stage 2 children as well. These offer suggestions as to what might be happening at any of the stages on the story mountain and can be used as part of a class discussion or put on display as a constant reminder.

Use prompts for creative writing exercises

One of the main pitfalls of pupils’ planning is the temptation to blur the lines between the plan and the story itself. To overcome this, advise them to make notes, preferably as bullet points rather than full sentences. Also, provide planning templates with prompts to make them think clearly about each stage of the story. As well as breaking down the story into its main parts, it could also pose relevant questions about what is happening and why. Just make sure that they don’t confuse the story stages with paragraphs. It might be that the two concepts overlap when they are novice writers but, especially as they get older and produce more, they will need to understand the difference.

Story Mountain structure can be flexible

A story plan is not a legally binding contract. Although you might not state it in those terms to your pupils, it is appropriate to tell them that sometimes your ideas change while you’re in the process of moulding a plan into a story. Just urge them to adapt their plan accordingly so that it still follows a coherent plot.

Famous story structure

It is often said that there are seven basic plots in literature: overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, journey and return, comedy, tragedy and rebirth. You can unpick what these mean at your leisure; the point is that different plots have different key ingredients. It therefore makes sense for writers to adapt their planning style accordingly and not feel they have to struggle up and down the story mountain in the traditional sense.

We offer a variety of resources, complete with planning sheets, that will help pupils appreciate different approaches to planning, depending on the genre of the story they are writing. For example, our ‘Timing a Plot’ pack encourages pupils to focus on the chronology of the key events in their story. Our ‘Hero’s Journey’ pack provides a 12-stage template for planning a story in the style of myths, legends and fantasy adventures. We even have a resource for creating a historical story set in a particular time and place, namely the wild west . Yippee-i-ay!

Make sure that your pupils do not underestimate the importance of the resolution. The story mountain idea can really help here as it is a very visual illustration of how things return to normal. Loose ends will need to be tied up in a way that satisfies the reader and there should be some indication as to how life will carry on for the characters. Incidentally, the protagonists might well live ‘happily ever after’ but this is never an acceptable ending except for a traditional tale. If you’re feeling really draconian, ban the words ‘The End’. If it is not clear to the reader that the story has finished, you could argue that they have not written a good enough resolution.

We hope you now feel fully equipped to help your class to tackle the spectacular peaks of the story mountains. Just remember, it might take what seems like extra effort at the beginning but it will be well worth it in the end.

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Creative writing prompts – Best activities and resources for KS1 and KS2 English

Schoolboy and teacher in creative writing lesson

Fed up of reading 'and then…', 'and then…' in your children's writing? Try these story starters, structures, worksheets and other fun writing prompt resources for primary pupils…

Laura Dobson

Jump to section:

  • Writing with choice and freedom

Creative writing resources for the classroom

Creative writing prompts.

  • Improving creative writing
  • Overcoming the fear of creative writing

What is creative writing?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, ‘creative’ is ‘producing or using original and unusual ideas’, yet I would argue that in writing there’s no such thing as an original idea – all stories are reincarnations of ones that have gone before.

As writers we learn to be expert magpies – selecting the shiny words, phrases and ideas from other stories and taking them for our own.  

Interestingly, the primary national curriculum does not mention creative writing or writing for pleasure at all and is focused on the skill of writing.

Therefore, if writing creatively and for pleasure is important in your school, it must be woven into your vision for English.

“Interestingly, the Primary National Curriculum does not mention creative writing or writing for pleasure at all”

Creative writing in primary schools can be broken into two parts:

  • writing with choice and freedom
  • developing story writing

Writing with choice and freedom allows children to write about what interests and inspires them.  

Developing story writing provides children with the skills they need to write creatively. In primary schools this is often taught in a very structured way and, particularly in the formative years, can lack opportunities for children to be creative.

Children are often told to retell a story in their own words or tweak a detail such as the setting or the main character.  

Below you’ll find plenty of creative writing prompts, suggestions and resources to help develop both writing for choice and freedom and developing story writing in your classroom. 

How to develop opportunities for writing with choice and freedom 

Here’s an interesting question to consider: if the curriculum disappeared but children still had the skills to write, would they?

I believe so – they’d still have ideas they wanted to convey and stories they wanted to share.

One of my children enjoys writing and the other is more reluctant to mark make when asked to, but both choose to write. They write notes for friends, song lyrics, stories and even business plans.

So how can we develop opportunities to write with choice and freedom in our classrooms?

Early Years classrooms are full of opportunities for children to write about what interests them, but it’s a rarer sight in KS1 and 2.  

Ask children what they want to write about

Reading for pleasure has quite rightly been prioritised in schools and the impact is clear. Many of the wonderful ideas from The Open University’s Reading For Pleasure site can be used and adapted for writing too.

For example, ask children to create a ‘writing river’ where they record the writing they choose to do across a week.

If pupils like writing about a specific thing, consider creating a short burst writing activity linked to this. The below Harry Potter creative writing activity , where children create a new character and write a paragraph about them, is an example of this approach.

story writing ks2

If you have a spare 20 minutes, listen to the below conversation with Lucy and Jonathan from HeadteacherChat and Alex from LinkyThinks . They discuss the importance of knowing about children’s interests but also about being a writer yourself.

'The confidence Crisis in Creative Writing.' Lucy and Jonathan chat with Alex from @LinkyThinks https://t.co/VClYxiQhcf — HeadteacherChat (@Headteacherchat) August 9, 2022

Plan in time to pursue personal writing projects 

There are lots of fantastic ideas for developing writing for pleasure in your classrooms on The Writing For Pleasure Centre’s website .

One suggestion is assigning time to pursue personal writing projects. The Meadows Primary School in Madeley Heath, Staffordshire, does this termly and provides scaffolds for children who may find the choice daunting.

Give children a choice about writing implements and paper 

Sometimes the fun is in the novelty. Are there opportunities within your week to give pupils some choices about the materials they use? Ideas could include:

  • little notebooks
  • a roll of paper
  • felt tip pens
  • gel pens  

Write for real audiences 

This is a great way to develop children’s motivation to write and is easy to do.

It could be a blog, a class newsletter or pen pals. Look around in your community for opportunities to write – the local supermarket, a nearby nursing home or the library are often all good starting points.

Have a go yourself

The most successful teachers of story writing write fiction themselves.

Many adults do not write creatively and trying to teach something you have not done yourself in a long time can be difficult. By having a go you can identify the areas of difficulty alongside the thought processes required.  

Treat every child as an author

Time is always a premium in the classroom but equally, we’re all fully aware of the impact of verbal feedback.

One-to-one writing conferences have gained in popularity in primary classrooms and it’s well-worth giving these a go if you haven’t already.

Set aside time to speak to each child about the writing they’re currently constructing. Discuss what’s going well and what they could develop.

If possible, timetable these one-to-one discussions with the whole class throughout the year (ideally more often, if possible).  

Free KS2 virtual visit and resources

Children's authors on Author in your Classroom podcast

Bring best-selling children’s authors directly into your classroom with Author In Your Classroom. It’s a brilliant free podcast series made especially for schools, and there’s loads of free resources to download too.

More than 20 authors have recorded episodes so far, including:

  • Sir Michael Morpurgo
  • Dame Jacqueline Wilson
  • Michael Rosen
  • Joseph Coelho
  • Lauren Child
  • Frank Cottrell-Boyce
  • Benjamin Zephaniah
  • Cressida Cowell
  • Robin Stevens

Creative writing exercises

Rachel Clarke writing templates for primary English

Use these inspiring writing templates from Rachel Clarke to inspire pupils who find it difficult to get their thoughts down on the page. The structured creative writing prompts and activities, which range from writing a ‘through the portal story’ to a character creation activity that involves making your own Top Trumps style cards, will help inexperienced writers to get started.

Storyboard templates and story structures

School pupil drawing a storyboard

Whether it’s short stories, comic strips or filmmaking, every tale needs the right structure to be told well. This storyboard template resource will help your children develop the skills required to add that foundation to their creative writing.

Ten-minute activities 

The idea of fitting another thing into the school day can feel overwhelming, so start with small creative writing activities once a fortnight. Below are a few ideas that have endless possibilities.

Character capers

story writing ks2

You need a 1-6 dice for this activity. Roll it three to find out who your character is, what their personality is and what job they do, then think about the following:

  • Can you draw them?
  • What questions would you ask them if you met them?
  • What might their answers be?
  • If they were the main character in a story, what might happen?

Download our character capers worksheet .

Setting soup

story writing ks2

In this activity pupils Look at the four photos and fill in a mind map for one of the settings, focusing on what they’d see, hear, feel, smell and feel in that location. They then write an ingredients list for their setting, such as:

  • A dollop of calmness 
  • A drizzle of a beautiful sunset 
  • A generous helping of a still ocean 
  • Copious amounts of smooth sand 
  • A spattering of lush, green palm trees 

Download our setting soup worksheet .

Use consequences to generate story ideas

story writing ks2

Start with a game of drawing consequences – this is a great way of building a new character.

story writing ks2

Next, play a similar game but write a story. Here’s an example . Download our free writing consequences template to get started.

story writing ks2

Roll and write a story

story writing ks2

For this quick activity, children roll a dice three times to choose a setting and two characters – for example, a theme park, an explorer and a mythical creature. They then use the results to create an outline for a story.

Got more than ten minutes? Use the outline to write a complete story. Alternatively, use the results to create a book cover and blurb or, with a younger group of children, do the activity as a class then draw or write about the outcome.

Download our roll and write a story worksheet .

Scavenger hunt

Give children something to hide and tell them they have to write five clues in pairs, taking another pair from one clue to the next until the 5th clue leads them to the hidden item.

For a challenge, the clues could be riddles.  

Set up pen pals. This might be with children in another country or school, or it could simply be with another class.

What do pupils want to say or share? It might be a letter, but it could be a comic strip, poem or pop-up book.  

You need a log-in to access Authorfy’s content but it’s free. The website is crammed with every children’s author imaginable, talking about their books and inspirations and setting writing challenges. It’s a great tool to inspire and enthuse.  

There are lots of great resources and videos on Oxford Owl which are free to access and will provide children with quick bursts of creativity.  

Creative writing ideas for KS2

Pie Corbett Ultimate KS2 Fiction Collection

This free Pie Corbett Ultimate KS2 fiction collection is packed with original short stories from the man himself, and a selection of teaching resources he’s created to accompany each one.

Each creative writing activity will help every young writer get their creative juices flowing and overcome writer’s block.

WAGOLL text types

story writing ks2

​Support pupils when writing across a whole range of text types and genres with these engaging writing packs from Plazoom , differentiated for KS1, LKS2 and UKS2.

They feature:

  • model texts (demonstrating WAGOLL for learners)
  • planning guides
  • writing templates
  • themed paper

Each one focuses on a particular kind of text, encouraging children to make appropriate vocabulary, register and layout choices, and produce the very best writing of which they are capable, which can be used for evidence of progress.

story writing ks2

If you teach KS2, start off by exploring fairy tales with a twist , or choose from 50+ other options .

Scaffolds and plot types

Creative writing scaffolds and plot types resource pack

A great way to support children with planning stories with structures, this creative writing scaffolds and plot types resource pack contains five story summaries, each covering a different plot type, which they can use as a story idea.

It has often been suggested that there are only seven basic plots a story can use, and here you’ll find text summaries for five of these:

  • Overcoming the monster
  • Rags to riches
  • Voyage and return

After familiarising themselves with these texts, children can adapt and change these stories to create tales of their own.

Use story starters

If some children still need a bit of a push in the right direction, check out our 6 superb story starters to develop creative writing skills . This list features a range of free story starter resources, including animations (like the one above) and even the odd iguana…

Use word mats to inspire

story writing ks2

Help pupils to write independently by providing them with helpful vocabulary sheets that they can pick and choose from when doing their own creative writing.

Download our free creative writing word mats here , including:

  • Create a spooky atmosphere
  • Write an adventure story
  • Describe a character’s appearance
  • Describe a character’s personality
  • Describe how a character moves
  • Describe how a character speaks
  • Describe a mythical beast

Creative writing pictures

story writing ks2

Using images as writing prompts is nothing new, but it’s fun and effective.

Pobble 365 has an inspiring photo for every day of the year. These are great inspiration for ten-minute free writing activities. You need to log in to Pobble but access to Pobble 365 (the pictures) is free.  

Choose two pictures as prompts (you can access every picture for the year in the calendar) or provide children with a range of starter prompts.

For example, with the photo above you might ask children to complete one of the following activities: 

  • Continue the story using the story starters on Pobble. 
  • Write down what your dream day would include. 
  • Create a superhero called Dolphin Dude.  
  • If you didn’t need to breath when swimming underwater, what would you do? Write about your dream day. It might include rivers, lakes, swimming pools, the seas or oceans.  
  • If you had a super power, what would it be and why?  

The Literacy Shed

Creative writing prompt of children walking down leafy tunnel

Website The Literacy Shed has a page dedicated to interesting pictures for creative writing . There are winter scenes, abandoned places, landscapes, woodlands, pathways, statues and even flying houses.

The Literacy Shed also hosts video clips for inspiring writing and is choc-full of ways to use them. The Night Zookeeper Shed is well worth a visit. There are short videos, activities and resources to inspire creative writing.

Once Upon a Picture

Creative writing picture prompt featuring flying whale

Once Upon a Picture is another site packed with creative writing picture prompts , but its focus is more on illustrations than photography, so its offering is great for letting little imaginations soar.

Each one comes with questions for kids to consider, or activities to carry out.

How to improve creative writing

Developing story writing .

If you decided to climb a mountain, in order to be successful you’d need to be well-equipped and you’d need to have practised with smaller climbs first.

The same is true of creative writing: to be successful you need to be well-equipped with the skills of writing and have had plenty of opportunities to practise.  

As a teachers you need to plan with this in mind – develop a writing journey which allows children to learn the art of story writing by studying stories of a similar style, focusing on how effects are created and scaffolding children’s writing activities so they achieve success.  

  • Choose a focus When planning, consider what skill you want to embed for children and have that as your focus throughout the sequence of learning. For example, if you teach Y4 you might decide to focus on integrating speech into stories. When your class looks at a similar story, draw their attention to how the author uses speech and discuss how it advances the action and shows you more about the characters. During the sequence, your class can practise the technical side of writing speech (new line/new speaker, end punctuation, etc). When they come to write their own story, your success criteria will be focused on using speech effectively. By doing this, the skill of using speech is embedded. If you chose to focus on ALL the elements of story writing that a Y4 child should be using (fronted adverbials, conjunctions, expanded noun phrases, etc), this might lead to cognitive overload.
  • Plan in chances to be creative Often teachers plan three writing opportunities: one where children retell the story, one with a slight difference (eg a different main character) and a final one where children invent their own story. However, in my experience, the third piece of writing often never happens because children have lost interest or time has run out. If we equip children with the skills, we must allow them time to use them.
  • Utilise paired writing Children love to collaborate and by working in pairs it actually helps develop independence. Give it a go!  
  • Find opportunities for real audiences Nothing is more motivating than knowing you will get to share your story with another class, a parent or the local nursing home.
  • Use high-quality stimuli If your focus is speech, find a great novel for kids that uses speech effectively. There are so many excellent children’s stories available that there’s no need to write your own.
  • Use magpie books This is somewhere where children can note down any great words or phrases they find from their reading. It will get them reading as a writer. 

Below is a rough outline of a planning format that leads to successful writing opportunities.

This sequence of learning takes around three weeks but may be longer or shorter, depending on the writing type.  

Before planning out the learning, decide on up to three key focuses for the sequence. Think about the potential learning opportunities that the stimuli supports (eg don’t focus on direct speech if you’re writing non-chronological reports).  

Ways to overcome fear of creative writing

Many children are inhibited in their writing for a variety of reasons. These include the all-too-familiar ‘fear of the blank page’ (“I can’t think of anything to write about!” is a common lament), trying to get all the technical aspects right as they compose their work (a sense of being ‘overwhelmed’), and the fact that much of children’s success in school is underpinned by an ethos of competitiveness and comparison, which can lead to a fear of failure and a lack of desire to try.

Any steps we can take to diminish these anxieties means that children will feel increasingly motivated to write, and so enjoy their writing more. This in turn will lead to the development of skills in all areas of writing, with the broader benefits this brings more generally in children’s education.

Here are some easily applied and simple ideas from author and school workshop provider Steve Bowkett for boosting self-confidence in writing.

  • Keep it creative Make creative writing a regular activity. High priority is given to spelling, punctuation and grammar, but these need a context to be properly understood. Teaching the technicalities of language without giving children meaningful opportunities to apply them is like telling people the names of a car engine’s parts without helping them learn to drive.
  • Model the behaviour In other words, when you want your class to write a story or poem, have a go yourself and be upfront about the difficulties you encounter in trying to translate your thoughts into words.
  • Go easy on the grammar Encourage children to write without them necessarily trying to remember and apply a raft of grammatical rules. An old saying has it that we should ‘learn the rules well and then forget them’. Learning how to use punctuation, for instance, is necessary and valuable, but when children try and apply the rules consciously and laboriously as they go along, the creative flow can be stifled. Consideration of rules should, however, be an important element of the editing process.
  • Keep assessment focused Where you do require children to focus on rules during composition, pick just one or two they can bear in mind as they write. Explain that you will mark for these without necessarily correcting other areas of GaPS. Not only will this save you time, but also children will be spared the demotivating sight of their writing covered in corrections (which many are unlikely to read).
  • Value effort If a child tries hard but produces work that is technically poor, celebrate his achievement in making an effort and apply the old ‘three stars and a wish’ technique to the work by finding three points you can praise followed by noting one area where improvements can be made.
  • Leave room for improvement Make clear that it’s fine for children to change their minds, and that there is no expectation for them to ‘get it all right’ first time. Show the class before and after drafts from the work of well-known poets and extracts from stories. Where these have been hand written, they are often untidy and peppered with crossings out and other annotations as the writers tried to clarify their thoughts. If you have the facilities, invite children to word process their stories using the ‘track changes’ facility. Encourage children to show their workings out, as you would do in maths.
  • Don’t strive for perfection Slay the ‘practice makes perfect’ dragon. It’s a glib phrase and also an inaccurate one. Telling children that practice makes better is a sound piece of advice. But how could we ever say that a story or poem is perfect? Even highly experienced authors strive to improve.
  • Come back later Leave some time – a couple of days will do – between children writing a piece and editing or redrafting it. This is often known as the ‘cooling off’ period. Many children will find that they come back to their work with fresh eyes that enable them to pick out more errors, and with new ideas for improving the piece structurally.
  • Try diamond 9 Use the diamond ranking tool to help children assess their own work. Give each child some scraps of paper or card and have them write on each an aspect of their writing, such as creating strong characters, controlling pace and tension, describing places and things, using ‘punchy’ verbs etc. Supply these elements as necessary, but allow children some leeway to think of examples of their own. Now ask each child to physically arrange these scraps according to how effectively they were used in the latest piece of work. So two writing elements that a child thinks are equally strong will be placed side by side, while an aspect of the work a child is pleased with will be placed above one that he / she is not so happy with.
  • Keep it varied Vary the writing tasks. By this I mean it’s not necessary to ask children always to write a complete story. Get them to create just an opening scene for example, or a vivid character description, or an exciting story climax. If more-reluctant writers think they haven’t got to write much they might be more motivated to have a go. Varying the tasks also helps to keep the process of writing fresh, while the results can form resource banks (of characters, scenes, etc) for future use.
  • Help each other Highlight the idea that everyone in the class, including yourself, forms a community of writers. Here, difficulties can be aired, advice can be shared and successes can be celebrated as we all strive to ‘dare to do it and do our best’.

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