Using ‘model texts’ is an effective strategy for introducing children to the process of narrative writing as it provides them with a framework that they can follow.
- Choose a suitable story. Stories, such as fairy tales, with which children are very familiar work best.
- Read the model story together. Keep the reading of the story fluent so the meaning of the story is not lost.
- Help your child analyze the story using ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ questions. For example: Who were the main characters? Where did the story take place? What were the key events that occurred in the story? How were the characters described?
- Help your child develop a similar story based on the model story.
- The basic story will remain the same with changes only made to the characters and key object(s). For example, if you used The Enormous Turnip as your model text, your child could change the turnip to a different plant and change the characters who will help pull out the plant.
- Help your child develop a story plan for the story showing the key characters, the setting, the key events, and the resolution.
- Help your child create a title for the story. The title should reflect the main idea of the story.
- Read each sentence in the first paragraph of the model story one at a time. Using this sentence as a model, help your child create his/her own sentence based on the developed story plan.
- As your child creates the sentence it can be written in ‘shorthand’ on a whiteboard before writing the sentence in full in the appropriate section of this book. It may also be useful to record your child’s response using the voice memo function on your phone.
- Ensure all words are spelled correctly by saying the sounds in the word and making connections to grapheme cue pictures and relevant rules (e.g., dream = /d/-/r/-/ea/ as in leaf /m/ or dropping = /d/-/r/-/o/-/p/ double the ‘p’ to keep the vowel short /i/-/ng/ as in ring).
- Complete one paragraph each day using the same process. Begin each session by reviewing the story plan and reading the paragraphs already written.
MODIFICATIONS & EXTENSIONS
- If you have a reluctant writer, you might begin by having your child dictate the story to you while you type. Once you are in the habit of writing regularly, the child can start writing some of the story, beginning with just one sentence.
- Once your child can successfully follow the basic story format, you can help him/her develop variations of the story.
- First, help your child identify the underlying theme of the model story.
- Then brainstorm variations to the story that still reflect the theme. For example, The Enormous Turnip is related to pulling an object and asking for help. Consequently, you would discuss other objects that can be pulled (a bucket in a wishing well, a lifesaver thrown to a drowning person, a car that is stuck in mud, etc.).
- The child can follow a similar format to the model text, but with the chosen variation.
It’s always useful to have a reason for writing. What will happen to the finished story? Perhaps your child could illustrate with his/her own drawings or with pictures from the internet. The story could then be ‘published’ as a book and given to a younger sibling, cousin or friend.
Useful resource: Introduction to Writing Creatively