June 14, 2012

Story Ideas Hide in Your Head

I'm currently sharing the key learning points discussed in my young writers'  workshop entitled, "Gotcha! How to Find and Capture Great Writing Ideas."

This week's post is about Big Idea #2: Story Ideas Hide in Your Head. Use Your Nose and Wiggle Your Toes to Find Them.

I start this section by asking students to chant along with me:  "Story Ideas Hide in Your Head. Use Your Nose and Wiggle Your Toes to Find Them," then I ask students to share what they think I mean by these words.  Kids have great, on-target responses.

Story Time with Signs & Rhymes
Next I introduce my book, "There's a Story In My Head" and explain that this story will further clarify what I mean by the words in the chant. This book incorporates the ASL signs for parts of the body, but the story itself makes the point that our everyday activities and experiences can be the foundation for great story ideas.

I pause at select page spreads and invite students to think about the different story ideas that are hiding in their own heads.  For example, on the "wiggle your toes" page, I ask students to remember the last time they took off their shoes and relaxed near a lake or ocean.  I also mention that going on a relaxing or vigorous walk before sitting down to write is another way to "wiggle your toes."  I explain that the walk itself can help wake up the story ideas that are hiding in our head, and that when we "use our nose," we can get new story ideas when we pay attention to what's going around us while we're walking.

Here are some great pictures from students that show their appreciation for this learning point.  I love the nose and toes picture at the top, and I especially love the speech bubble that says "scrumple" your nose and wiggle your toes!

As we continue reading, we get to the page spread that says, "There's a story in my arms.  Rock the baby nice and easy. Imagine all the stories I can write . . ." I ask students to hold their arms in front of them and imagine holding something very special to them in their arms.  It could be a younger sibling, or a doll, or a bear.  It could be a ball, or a trophy, or tickets to a special event.  We talk about how all of these special things can be the subject of great story ideas just waiting to be written.

By now, students are typically bursting with story ideas.  They want to share all the story ideas they have discovered hiding in their head.  I insist that they not tell me but instead write them down for me, which brings us to our next point, Big Idea #3: Use a Notebook to Capture Your Ideas, which I'll expand on in my next post! 

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