A couple of nerve-twisting hours!
Yesterday morning, well before 7am, we let all the dogs out for their morning walks, smells and ablutions! They are let out on our property.
Ten minutes later all of them were back home save one: Brandy!
Then followed a good couple of hours while I, and then later Jeannie and I, walked the entire property, all 13 acres, looking for Brandy. To no avail. He appeared to have disappeared. It’s not helped by the fact that Brandy has poor hearing and can’t really hear calls more than thirty feet away.
At one point I went out with Cleo, our GSD, who has a supreme sense of smell and excellent hearing, to look for Brandy. No luck!
I was getting very stressed and while Brandy at times does go for a walk on his own he had never been gone for this long.
Well eventually, with the help of our new neighbours, we located Brandy and, in time, got him back in the house. The only way off the property is via Bummer Creek, which flows across our property, under a bridge built on our driveway, that is not fenced. Only Brandy sometimes takes a stroll down the creek. Brandy had done so this morning and ended up past our neighbours property, a good quarter mile or more downstream.
It was then time to go across and thank our neighbours for their help. I was invited in for a coffee and also spent time with the eight-year-old, soon to be nine, chatting about this and that, and, towards the end of the coffee, about writing!
This was lovely and I said that if aforesaid young man was to write a story about one of their two dogs I would love to feature it as a guest post in this place!
Then when I came home I was thinking more about encouraging the young man to write some more and came across the following. I trust it is OK to republish.
Creative writing techniques for kids: a step-by-step guide to writing a story
Encouraging children to write a story of their very own can give them an enormous confidence boost, as well as help them consolidate their literacy learning by putting their phonics, grammar and reading skills into practice. Primary teacher Phoebe Doyle offers parents tips on how to get their children’s creative thoughts flowing.
The way literacy is taught in primary schools has changed radically in the last couple of decades; when I was at school in the 80s we copied from blackboards, had whole hours of handwriting practice and sweated over spellings without any formal teaching of phonics whatsoever. While I think the more structured approach to literacy teaching we see in classrooms today makes learning more fun and accessible, my one worry is that there’s little time left for writing creatively.
When I was at school I adored writing stories – even stories with chapters and illustrations. I know my author brother did too – we found some of his old stories a few years back, and I felt so pleased he’d had the time to write these endless pages of action, adventure, characterisation and twisting plotlines.
As a primary teacher I ensured I would have a week each term when, during literacy sessions, we would focus solely on creating stories. I wasn’t deviating from the curriculum – far from it. During this week children would be consolidating their learning of phonics and be ‘writing for purpose’, considering carefully the aspects of story and who their audience might be.
It may very well be that your children write stories at home regardless of whether they’re required to for school, because most children have a seemingly natural urge to want to do so from time to time. This is just a little guidance on how you can support them and encourage a more structured approach to their story writing.
Firstly, ask your child where the story is going to take place. It could be somewhere fictional or real, it could be a planet, a country, a town or a house – anywhere!
Then, ask when the story is taking place – now? In the future? In the past?
Finally ask what they think is going to happen. Remember that this doesn’t have to be accurate and they don’t have to stick to what they say; many of the best writers say that their plots develop organically as they write. If they do have a firm idea of where they want to go with the plot, though, they can create an outline by completing a story planner, which could look something like this:
- And finally….
Ask your child who is going to be in the story. How do they want their readers to feel about each character? Again, they may want to jot some ideas down. You could make a table for them to help them organise their thoughts, with these headings:
- Name of character
- Relationship to other characters
- What he/she looks like
Ask your child to think of some fabulous words to use in their story writing. They might be long words or simple ones, or they might be great descriptive words or words that help create pace and tension. Encourage them to jot these down and refer to the list as they write their story.
All writers know that you’ve got to capture the attention of your readers right from the start; you want to make them desperate to read on. Ask your child to think of some good story openers that’ll entice people to find out more. Here are a few examples:
First sentences that are mysterious…
Molly had no sense of the day that lay ahead.
Story starters that use language tricks like alliteration…
It was damp, dark and dreadfully dusty when Molly entered the house.
Story openers that create tension…
Molly could hear her heart beating faster than ever before. Could this really be happening?
Stories that go straight into dialogue…
“But I don’t want to go to school, Mummy,” groaned Molly.
Encourage your child to look at some of the books they like to read and see how they begin in order to offer inspiration.
Once they’ve got all of these ideas in place, they can start writing. They could do a draft in the first instance and then a neat, polished version later. They may wish to write in short chapters, use illustrations, or make their own book to write in – let them use their imagination and creativity when it comes to presentation, and make sure you show how much you value the end product by keeping it to read again with the other books in your house.
If your child finds writing a story a little daunting, start with something small from our list of 9 fun writing projects to do with your children.
We also recommend the free art and creative writing challenges on the Night Zookeeper website; your child will be contributing to a co-created animated television show.
You could also try a great story-making app and get your child writing fiction on their tablet!
It’s a great video by the way. Plus, it is a good article and I hope that I can bring it to the attention of my neighbour and thence onto his son.
And I really hope that in a while I can feature him and his guest post in this place!