Encourage creative writing at home

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

THIS week I was approached by a parent concerning techniques on improving their child's creative writing skills.

Due to my classes' nature and length, it isn't possible to facilitate a substantial writing piece. In the classroom, the creation of a meaningful story would take approximately a week. However, I do employ creative writing to reinforce new grammar and punctuation skills acquired in sessions.

A writing activity involves displaying a picture (a prompt) and asking the children to write the opening paragraph of a story which includes whatever skill we have focused on that week. Effective creative writing can be encouraged at home by applying the following techniques.

If children have no direction, they tend to waffle with little structure. Using a story mountain template is a fantastic method to avoid this. Story mountain templates can be found through an online search and are a tremendous tool to plan a story.

They help structure a piece of writing and visually highlight the flow of a story. Story mountains usually start with an area to create the main characters and setting. Following this, it prompts the writer to plan the opening of their story, the problem/dilemma, resolution, and finally, the story's ending/moral. The story mountain promotes a natural flow, going up and down the mountain to avoid jumping back and forth between stories' key components.

Another technique which is useful in improving creative writing is the use of a storyboard. Storyboards are similar to story mountains as they organise a story's structure with the main difference being the use of drawings. For children who struggle with writing, I usually ask them to think of a story they know well, such as The Three Little Pigs. Following this, the children draw a storyboard for this traditional tale while being encouraged to be as creative as possible.

Examples include changing the Three Little Pigs to Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Wolf to an alien monster. Storyboards provide the perfect opportunity to appeal to whatever specific interests they may have.

In the beginning, refrain from being over critical of grammar and punctuation as you do not want to damage confidence or love for writing. In the second or third piece, you can discuss areas of focus. A focus may be spelling, but you mustn't highlight every spelling mistake. Instead, pick up to ten spellings you feel they should know and ask them to correct these. You can allow them to use a dictionary or tablet to help them, depending on their age. You can include numerous areas in your checklist, and I recommend researching what the expectations are for your child's age group. If you require assistance on this, please feel free to contact me.

As mentioned in previous columns, reading has an abundance of benefits such as improving concentration, vocabulary and comprehension, spelling, imagination and escapism, to name a few. Reading also has a significant influence on creative writing skills, as it helps children become familiar with characters, settings, plots, twists and pace of writing.

Transfer Test Preparation

In preparation for the practice papers, we revised multiples, factors, prime and powers.

A prime number only has two factors as it is only divisible by 1 and itself. 7 is a prime number as it can only be divided by 71 = 7 and 77 = 1.

7 can't be divisible by any other number, which gives a whole number answer. For example, 72 = 3.5, which isn't a whole number as it includes a decimal.

A common mistake is that 15 is a prime number. This is incorrect as 15 has 4 factors as it divided by 151 = 15, 1515 = 1, 153 = 5 and 155 = 3.

We also looked at square numbers which are calculated by multiplying a number by itself. E.g. means 4 x 4 = 16.

Cubed numbers are similar; the only difference is you multiply a number by itself, then multiply the answer by the original number.

E.g. means 4 x 4 (16) x 4 = 64.

The multiples of a number are the values in that number's particular number's times table. E.g. The first four multiples of 3 are 3, 6, 9 and 12.

Factors are whole numbers that will divide into another number. E.g. The factors of 8 are 1,2,4 and 8.

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Education Support Hub provides assistance to help primary school children reach their full academic potential. Following a free assessment, your child's learning gaps and needs are identified, which will be communicated to you. They are then placed in a small group of similar academic ability. The small group dynamic helps mirror a classroom environment whilst encouraging some healthy competition! Each child is continually assessed throughout the session, immediately alerting me to any areas of concern. We provide support for children from P3 - P7, including GL Transfer Test preparation.

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