Brainstorming: All of these are useful for many different grade levels and can be applied to different genres of writing (stories, poems, newspaper articles, essays, etc.)

Mindmap/ web / cloud- Starts with one word, topic, question, or even photograph or physical object in the center. New ideas or questions related to the center topic are written with lines connecting them to the middle. If these spark even more ideas, the branches can keep growing outward.

Lists- The criteria could be as arbitrary as listing things that start with 'A' and including a certain number of them in a story or poem. Here is one exercise that consistently produces creative stories: As a whole class, students call out the most interesting words from their Daily 5 books for the teacher to record on the board. Then they must choose two words to put together (like “invisible toilet”) and write a story or poem about the phrase.


Photographs or art- Unusual images found by the teacher or the students make great writing prompts. The book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg can be found in our library. There is no text, and each picture in it could spark an unusual story.


Story structures:

After learning how to recognize parts of a story when they are reading, students can use the terms to help jot down notes for those parts of their own story before they get started writing. The story will be more organized from the start. For example, Grade 1 students might practice reading and writing with a Beginning / Middle / End structure. Grades 2 and 3 might use something more like Beginning / 3 important events / End. Usually around Grade 4, students start learning basic literary terms like exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution. First they must identify these in the stories they read. Then, once they are comfortable, they can fill out a graphic organizer, adding basic notes to follow the shape of the line. Here is one example of just one story shape :


Here are some fun story diagrams for Grades 5 and up from this link (bigger images available there):

story lizard.jpg

story fish.jpg