Create a Comic Book and Show Your Students Where the Movies Come From

Comic books are fun for kids to read and create.
Create your own comic book

Comic books are fun for kids to read and create.

One way for teachers to build interest in reading and writing is to help students to create a comic book in which they write about the stories and characters that interest them most. Many students develop an interest in comic book characters and stories as they grow up seeing them portrayed in the movies. Savvy teachers can use these characters and stories to accomplish their academic goals as they build on information students already know.

Language Arts Skills From Comic Books

Doing a comic book project with your students can teach or reinforce many different language arts skills in a fun and creative way. Students need to write a story as part of their comic book, and combining pictures with words can make the storytelling process easier for even the most reluctant writers. When the story is their own, students are highly motivated to spell and punctuate correctly, so these skills are reinforced.

You can teach specific story writing skills through a comic book project. With younger students, you may teach chronology – that stories have a beginning, middle and end. With older students, you can teach plotting elements like conflict and the plot triangle that almost all stories use (rising action, climax, falling action). You can also teach character development with the added aspect of using images to show how characters look and act.

In telling a story, students will need to understand the concepts of genre ( the type of story), dialogue, and other elements which can be taught at different levels for students of different ages. One of the great things about comic books is that they can be adapted for use with every age group K-12.

Kids of all ages can be creative as they create their own comic books
Create your own comic books

Kids of all ages can be creative as they create their own comic books.

Ways to Incorporate Comic Books

One way to use a comic book project is to have students create a comic book to summarize a book they read in class or for a book report. Students will often choose books based on movies (or the other way around) when given a choice. Having to come up with an alternate ending is another good way to approach creating a comic book. There are tons of options to choose from, and you can pick several to offer your students a focused choice.

Creating a comic book can be complicated for some students, but you can make it easier by allowing them to choose between drawing on paper or using a computer graphics program. Bookemon can use a variety of formats to create books for students. Even photos can be used if students want to use this medium for their comic books. Offering students one method of creating their comic books while being open to other ideas is usually the best way to approach the project.

Younger students and students with learning challenges may be able to collaborate on a comic book, working together as a class or with a small group rather than individually. For group projects, teachers should be vigilant about making sure each group member contributes ideas and that all ideas are considered respectfully.

Educators interested in Bookemon can try it out for free and see how it can enhance their classroom projects.

How to Create a Book with Your Students

With some guidance, your students can create their own books.
With some guidance, your students can create their own books.

With some guidance, your students can create their own books.

Teaching young students how to create a book is a great interactive lesson plan that will get them thinking about the process of reading and writing as well as give them a chance to be creative. It can seem like a huge task for kids to create their own books, but you can help break it down into steps for them and make the task manageable and fun.

Choosing a Topic

The first step to creating a book is usually choosing a topic. Younger students can get overwhelmed by a lack of structure, so you might consider tying the book project to a particular unit and narrowing the topic so it fits into that unit, or just choosing a general topic for them. Older students may be able to choose a topic that fits into their existing interests.

Telling a Story

Not all students will have an easy time telling their story, so you can introduce one or more ways to do so. Telling the story chronologically makes the most sense for younger students, while older ones may be able to use flashbacks or incorporate multiple points of view if you show them how and give examples.

Whether students’ stories are simple or complex, encourage them to be descriptive by using words related to each of the five senses, and encourage their creativity and progress. If possible, write a book alongside your students to help model creativity, your excitement for writing stories, and the process of writing for your students.

Students can learn many valuable skills through the process of creating their own books.
Students can learn many valuable skills through the process of creating their own books.

Typing in Text

Younger students may find typing their stories time consuming and cumbersome if they haven’t yet developed keyboarding skills. You may want to have the more proficient students help the others, or maybe you can type in the stories for those who really struggle after they hand write them. Bookemon accommodates PDFs, Word documents and also provides custom templates kids can use.

Adding Artwork

Students who enjoy drawing will probably spend a lot of time making a cover and illustrations for their book. Most schools are equipped with a scanner for importing students’ own drawings or with software students can use to create their own digital illustrations. Bookemon makes it easy to upload photos and other files. For kids who don’t enjoy drawing, there are plenty of royalty-free images on sites like Pixabay that they can use instead.

Ebook or Printed Book?

Bookemon offers free saving of ebooks and the ability to purchase printed copies for publishing options that fit every school’s budget. Books can be used as part of a student’s portfolio and shown, even projected on a big screen, at school and district events to showcase students’ abilities. Printed books are bookstore quality and will become family keepsakes. Teachers can use the books at parent-teacher conferences to talk about student writing.

Get started today in helping your students become published authors with Bookemon.

Attention: How to Keep Students Focused in the Classroom

Keeping students engaged can be a challenge.
keep students engaged in the classroom

Keeping students engaged can be a challenge.

The quality of students’ learning depends a great deal on how well they stay focused in the classroom – and getting students to pay attention is no easy task. After a steady diet of television, video games and social media, your lesson may not seem so interesting, and some of your students may tune you out or even try to disrupt the lesson. It is possible to keep your students focused, however, even when learning disabilities or developmental difficulties present challenges to students’ capabilities.

Use Nonverbal Communication

Of course, teachers need to clearly tell students what they need to do (and not do) in the classroom, but don’t ignore the power of nonverbal communication to focus students’ attention. Hand signals, eye contact, and other nonverbal cues can bring students back to attention in a moment rather than needing to raise your voice over all of theirs.

Routines Engage Students

When your classroom is focused around well-taught routines and procedures, students know what to expect and are engaged in responsible classroom behavior that facilitates focused teaching and learning. These routines should be established at the beginning of the year, but can be adjusted and built on as the year continues. When students don’t know what to do in specific classroom situations, chaos inevitably results and focus is lost. But when procedures are clearly taught, the classroom almost runs itself.

Build in Accountability

Students often need motivation in order to focus on classroom tasks effectively. Teachers should explain how their focus and participation will be graded so that they are encouraged to give their best effort. Apps like Class Dojo offer positive reinforcement by awarding points for good classroom behaviors like staying on task or participating. When students know they will be held accountable for staying focused, they will be more likely to do so.

Enforce Discipline

Many students have difficulty focusing in noisy classrooms with frequent disruptions, so it’s a good idea to deal with disruptions early on by carrying out your discipline plan calmly and consistently. It’s up to you to give your students a calm, orderly place to learn and work; letting disruptions go in the hopes that they will go away on their own is not likely to be effective. Taking the time to talk privately to students that disrupt class or calling parents can help to deal with any disruptions before they become patterns of behavior that are hard to break.

keep students engaged in the classroom
keep students engaged in the classroom

Interactive technology is one way to keep students focused.

Use Active Learning Techniques

Do you enjoy sitting still and listening to someone speak for an extended period of time? Most people don’t, and kids are no exception. Interactive lessons allow kids to actively engage their bodies and minds in the lesson, which will help them focus better. Group investigation activities where kids work together to find out information, experiments, and lessons that use props or technology are all ways to get students actively engaged in their learning.

Here’s an active lesson plan idea: students can write and publish their own books with Bookemon. You can try it out here.

3 Tips for Teaching Children to Write Well

Teaching good writing skills is not as simple as it may sound. Though there are some basic structural components that educators typically focus on, everyone knows that good writing involves something more.

Tapping into student creativity is a vital part of unleashing that hidden potential. But how, as a teacher, do you do that? There are no lesson plans to tap creativity, right? Well, maybe there are.

According to research, the most effective methods to improve student writing are fairly simple to do, but many teachers are not using them.

Create your own storybook!
Create your own storybook!

There are three tips found to improve student writing. Allowing students to type their story is one of them.

The Study

Steve Graham, a professor of education at Arizona State University, monitors the numerous research studies conducted to evaluate the best methods to teaching writing. He recently studied the results of 250 separate writing studies to compile an overall synopsis of best practices for teachers.

“We have confirmation of things we know that work, but are not applied in the classroom,” said Graham.

3 Tips for Teaching Kids to Write Well:

1) Practice, practice, practice: Like playing a sport or anything else, the more one practices the greater their skills become. This applies to writing too. Research from five different studies, which examined exceptional literacy skills in students, discovered that great teachers ask their students to write frequently. In nine experiments conducted with students, adding 15 more minutes of writing time per day in grades two through eight produced better writing. Seventy-eight percent of studies testing the impact of extra writing found that students’ writing quality improved. Other bonuses were that more writing time improved reading skills and other academic performance as a whole. Studies show that kids who learn how to write their own stories well, also develop methods to better organize their thoughts, and even communicate better.

2) Type it out: Though many educators are adamant that writing by hand improves comprehension, 83% of the studies focused on word processing concluded that student writing quality improved when typing on a computer rather than writing by hand. The idea is that the easier it is for students to edit their sentences, the more likely they are to do so – improving sentence structure, word choice, and clarity. The study results were most clear when it came to middle school students.

3) Focus less on grammar, more on writing more: Teaching grammar often doesn’t translate to quality writing. Six studies of children grades three to seven concluded that students who had been taught traditional grammar scored lower than those who did not. Graham believes the reason for this may be that, for younger students, grammar lessons are often separate from writing. But largely, the lessons seemed to get in the way of writing quality. What did work, in three different studies is teaching kids how to combine two simple sentences into a single complex sentence.

Create your own storybook!
Create your own storybook!

The more students write, the better their skills. Add at least 15 more minutes to their writing time each day.

What Can You Do Right Now?

The takeaway here is that writing should be encouraged, made to be creative and fun, and done much more frequently in the classroom. Add at least 15 minutes to each day of classroom activity and you will see results down the road. Make it a fun project, like publishing their first book at easy to use, free sites like Bookemon.com. There you will find resources and you can create your own educator account to Try it out (for educator-related articles) for free!

4 Ways Writing for Children is Different

What kind of story will engage young readers the most? The answer may be simpler than you think. Writing for children can be different than writing for adult readers, but it does not require a crystal ball to know what will grab a child’s attention.

Writing for children requires a few simple changes in your storytelling style
Writing for children requires a few simple changes in your storytelling style

Writing for children requires a few simple changes in your storytelling style.

Successful children’s authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis, for example, didn’t always set out to write specifically for children. They tell their story and children just happen to be drawn to it. So, rather than carefully trying to lure a specific age group of readers into your book by adding ill-fitting props or characters that you think are popular, it is best to follow your writer’s heart and simply tell the story you were meant to tell.

Consider the Story You Wish to Write

According to an interview with famous children’s author, C.S. Lewis, the ideal story you craft will be engaging and fit naturally into a format that just organically appeals to children. Lewis stated that a great children’s book should actually have the same foundational elements one sees in a great adult novel– just easier to read and digest.

So, to write well for children, make no wild efforts to attract kids into reading your book. Simply write and publish an amazing story and note that there are a few subtle differences in the writing format for children’s books versus those for adults.

4 ways writing for children can be different:

  • Characters need to be quickly understood and relatable. Essentially, they must be well-developed and three dimensional, but easy to get to know and follow. Describe them in simple, everyday terms. What do you remember about one of your childhood friends? Was he unusually taller than others in your class? Was he always wearing his lucky baseball cap? Did he have an unusual passion for eating raw vegetables straight out of his father’s garden? How would you describe his friendship? Could you trust him with a secret? The reader should be able to visualize the characters, who they are, and what their struggles are (because every good story has a struggle or an obstacle to overcome, right?). But, remember to keep all details simple and clear.
  • Try writing to appeal to a specific child you know, rather than the masses of young readers out there. Make your story genuine, answering to that one child’s interest. This is actually the perfect recipe for authentic, great writing that attracts many readers. In other words, trying to appeal to all children means adding obvious, frivolous parts to your story in an attempt to be popular with everyone. Don’t do it!
  • Remember what it was like to be a child. What were your fears? What worried you? What brought you joy? Your story should not necessarily be geared just toward children, or just toward adults; to do so compromises the story. Rather, it should include real-life concerns that a child can easily relate to, but even adults would connect with.
  • Remain believable and authentic to your writing style. Rather than setting out to write to appeal to what you think children want (like forcing the use of certain words or adding magical characters to a story that does not call for them, for example), simply tell the story you were meant to tell. Be authentic to yourself and write in an authentic manner that just happens to be attractive to young readers.
Children are drawn to authentically good writing and characters they can understand and follow.
Children are drawn to authentically good writing and characters they can understand and follow.

Children are drawn to authentically good writing and characters they can understand and follow.

As C.S Lewis stated, “A children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.”

Once you have carefully crafted your children’s story, it is time to publish it. Relax! With Bookemon, this is the easy part. Just go online, sign up for a free account, and all the tools you need are right at your fingertips. Getting started is simple, fun and it costs you nothing to give it a try.

Parents, Put Down That Homework!

Parents today are often heavily involved. They spend time helping children with homework, working with them to improving test scores, volunteering with school events and more.

But, a recent study says that the results of all that parental support has little impact on the academic achievement of their children. In other words, relax. Stop pushing to be so involved in the studying, homework, and college aspirations of your children.

homework from a book
make your own book

A recent study says parental involvement with homework and school does not produce student success.

This latest study, one of the largest ever conducted about the subject, focused on pinpointing how much, or little, parental involvement affects academic achievement.

Conducted by Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Angel L. Harris, a sociology professor at Duke, the pair discovered that for the most part, parental involvement has very little long-lasting impact on how children do in school.

The Study

The researchers studied longitudinal surveys over the span of 3 decades, involving parents across the country. The surveys tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in their children’s’ academic lives, including helping with homework, discussing future college plans, and the parents’ level of volunteering at the schools.

The study homed in on whether the highly-involved parents had children who improved or excelled academically over time. Involvement level was compared to children’s academic performance, including test scores in reading and math.

The results not only showed little correlation with academic success and parental involvement, but in some case the involvement actually backfired and achievement diminished.

Should You Still Review Homework?

The basic answer? Yes, but in moderation. The results, published in The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education, indicates that reviewing you child’s homework will not actually boost standardized test scores.

Here are few other surprising findings:

  • After kids reach middle school, parental help with homework can actually bring test scores down. Robinson attributed this to parents not understanding or remembering the material and giving poor guidance.
  • Similarly, students whose parents frequently meet with teachers or principals don’t improve any more than academically comparable peers whose parents are less involved at school.
  • Volunteering in your child’s class to help with lessons, as well as advising your teen on how to choose their courses for high school, leaves children anxious.
  • The worst? Punishing kids for getting bad grades or instituting strict rules about homework actually creates academic anxiety and even a dislike for school.

Robinson speculates. “Ask them ‘Do you want to see me volunteering more? Going to school social functions? Is it helpful if I help you with homework? We think about informing parents and schools what they need to do, but too often we leave the child out of the conversation.”

homework of writing a book
Have fun to write your own book

What should a parent do to help academics? Encourage fun activities that inspire learning, not strict rules.

What to Do Instead

According to imaginationsoup.com, there are many activities and ideas you can try to have fun and encourage learning in a more relaxed manner. The trick is to find the ones that inspires your children the most and to keep the focus on fun. Create activities and games with words or numbers, write poetry or short stories to read at bedtime.

Create a collection of stories and publish them so your children have the pride of being an author and let them illustrate their stories too! According to an article on greatschools.org, your mission as a parent is to make it fun.

Documents, Photos & Text: How to Create a Book and Easily Combine All Three

You might think that self-publishing a book is beyond your skill level, but guess what? It’s not. At all.

You can make your own online
Building your book sounds like a daunting task, but today’s software makes it fun and simple.

Bookemon.com offers incredibly easy and affordable methods to produce a quality book that looks like it came straight from a bookstore. It makes book-building simple, fun and affordable, whether you’re adding text, photos, or documents. You can even try your hand at creating your book for free, with no obligation to buy. Truly, your book building possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

How Does Bookemon Do It?

Bookemon’s free digital software allows you to use a combination of documents, photos, and text all in one printable book. It is so easy and intuitive (if you can download and click, you can do this!) that anyone can create a book with professional looking results.

Book Building Basics

Bookemon’s All-Purpose Online Book Creator lets you create your own books using any combination of Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Photos, text, and graphics, so you can easily turn your writings, blogs, drawings, images, documents and variety of content into professional quality books in print.

How it works:

  • Your written content (whether it is a novel, comic book, cookbook, or children’s story) should be saved as a Word document, PDF, PowerPoint file, jpg photo, text, or graphic program.
  • Now it is time to get building. Log onto the Bookemon website and creating a free account.
  • Next, choose a “blank template” to create your book in. This will assist you in laying out the pages.
  • Once your template is ready, you simply upload your Word, PDF document, PowerPoint- whatever method you saved the content, and it will be added into the book exactly as you have created it. For example, your title header and the page numbers you have on those pages will appear exactly as they are in your document.
  • A great advantage of using the Bookemon software is that you can use multiple documents in creating your book. For example, you can design a cover and upload it as a pdf file for the cover page, you can use another document with the main content for the rest of the book pages, etc. So if you want to create special pages- spaced throughout the book, like maybe a cookbook with photo pages of mom or your grandma who created those recipes, you can do it. Here are the steps:

1. On the bottom of the builder, there are page thumbnails. The very first one on the left is the Front Cover and the last page is the Back Cover. Click on the Front or Back Cover page.
2. Under the document library on the left panel, click on the Open folder icon of the document with the page you want to use.
3. Click to select the page in the document to replace the current Front Cover page.

  • You can follow the procedure above to replace other pages in the book besides the front and back covers. This feature allows you to move content to the exact page you want it to appear.
  • To add photos to your book pages, you first click on the “Upload” function in the book making program to upload all the photos. Once uploaded, each photo will appear as an icon in a “Photo Library”. To use, simply drag the photos from your photo library onto the page or into an image box here you want them to appear.
  • Finally, you can really adjust and customize the pages by choosing a special font from the menu of options, or add some pizazz to your pages by adding from a collection of program clip art.

 

You can make your own book on iPad
Self-publish your own children’s book with ease, using Bookemon software. it is free to try and simple to use.

What kind of books can you make? Any kind! You can make a photobook that tells a story, a custom book for your child, your own cookbook, or publish a memoir. If you have always dreamed of being a writer and believe you have an amazing story to share, start writing! The publishing part will be fun!

This site provides everything you need (even if you are creatively challenged) to build and publish a beautiful book. With no obligation to buy, there is zero risk in getting started.

Thought Leader Series: That’s Good For a Laugh! 4 Tips to Writing a Funny Story

Writing a funny story

Being a kid is something everyone remembers. First bike ride, learning to tie your shoes, or taking a family vacation are all nostalgic moments. One memory that may stick in your mind is the first book that made you laugh. Have you ever wanted to write your own funny take that will become someone else’s memory? Here are some tips to writing a funny story that will go on in time:

Writing a funny story A good chuckle leaves a lasting impression.

1.) What do you remember?

Story time for children is a wonderful time for everyone. It helps to build a bond between parent and child and also enhances brain activity and mental development. There are millions of children’s books to read from at story time, but there is one that has never been heard or read yet. That’s because it hasn’t been written yet. Don’t hesitate and don’t be discouraged to put the pen to paper and start the next great story. With some imagination and a bit of direction, the next children’s book can be written. Here are 5 tips for writing a children’s book:

1.) Designate focus

Children’s books are all different and directed to particular age groups and sometimes genders. It’s important to designate the age group you want the book to focus towards. Is the book going to be directed toward girls or boys? Will it be a princess story or a tale of a basketball star? Some books include coloring pages and activities (C&A), so it needs to be considered if those will be added. Most children’s books are for audiences that don’t read well or read at all. The length of the book should stay under 1,000 words for fluidity and avoid unnecessary details.

2.) Research and read

There are many books at the library or book store that offer tips on writing and the publishing process. Bookemon.com offers a lot of help in the printing process and self-publishing. While you are spending time at the library, get to know the person in charge. They usually have knowledge of workshops and writing groups that improve writing skills and story development. Writing groups allow for open exchange of ideas and general knowledge. Always take advantage of resources and learn from fellow authors.

3.) Story, plot, and characters

Reverting back to your childhood is a great way to develop a plot for a story. What stories did you enjoy? Imagination is important, but always remember that a story needs to make sense. Create a hero or central character with a problem they must overcome either externally or internally. Every great story needs an opposing force such as a “baddie” or moral dilemma. Keep in mind that the good guy should always prevail. An awesome thing about children’s stories; magic is a legitimate solution to problems.

4.) Illustrations and artwork

Children’s books are mostly picture books or C&A. Depending on the age group, story line, and characters, the illustrations help set the tone of the book. Also, when writing shorter books with few words, illustrations help to fill in the story. Colorful, fun, animal pictures have more effect than black and white sketches or photography. Be sure to find an illustrator who conveys the story through their art as you want it to be seen. And, as with any project, there are going to be changes, so find an artist who is flexible.

5.) Read aloud

Story time is entertaining and reading aloud adds excitement, attitude and emotion. Children’s books often rhyme, but it isn’t mandatory. It’s important to have steady rhythm and cadence. Even syllables and sentence length make the book easier to read. The rhythm should also reflect what is happening in the story. For example, when there is an altercation between forces, the cadence should be quick and staccato. Whereas, a doggy napping with a kitty calls for a slow and calming rhythm. While writing and when finished, reading the story aloud helps to find the best rhythm and cadence.

These tips are to help you get your idea out of your brain and onto paper. Writing a great story for a child to explore is not as easy as it seems, but it’s worth the work. The next step of a great children’s book is getting it to the kids that want to read it. Bookemon is an online company for amateur authors that want their books to be read. Bookemon helps with the printing process and is a great company to get started with. So, when you finish writing that book, give ’em a try.

Expert Interview Series: Suzan St Maur of HowToWriteBetter.net With Advice on Self-Publishing

Suzan St Maur is the founder of HowToWriteBetter.net where she and some of the world’s top writing experts share articles and tutorials no writing professionally for any purpose.

Suzan enjoys consulting, writing, editing for and coaching clients as well as running her other business interests, writing her own books, blogs and articles, plus giving blogging workshops, radio interviews, etc., on how to make your writing more successful.

We recently checked in with her to get her advice on self-publishing. Here’s what she had to say:

You are quite a prolific author on a variety of topics. How do you decide what you’re going to write about?

I write about writing, across many genres. Needless to say I can’t write as an expert on everything so on my website I have guest contributors and columnists who share their expertise on topics like writing fiction, writing for job search, academic writing for students, etc., which complement my own writing which focuses on business, marketing, online content and general promotional activities.

On a more personal level I love writing humor and have had a few joke books published, one of which has been, on and off, an Amazon No. 1 category best seller for 14 years.

How has the self-publishing industry changed since you started your career?

It has emerged from the doldrums of “vanity publishing” to being a very viable business model for many authors worldwide, including me.

What are the advantages of self-publishing?

Freedom to make your own decisions on titles, formats, cover design, etc., which often are badly restricted by conventional trade publishers who are likely to have much less knowledge of marketing and promotion than authors like me.

If you play your cards right you can gain a much higher return on price per unit sold by self-publishing than you can with the conventional publishers.

What are the drawbacks?

Probably a less advantageous distribution element, especially if you write self-help and business books connected to your business. However that’s not so much of a problem if you get out there and promote your books yourself, and if you do speaking engagements on your topic you are likely to sell hard copies of your book in quite satisfactory numbers “back of room.”

To make a go of it, however, you do need to be good at promotion online and offline and need to invest some time and money into that.

What should writers look out for when seeking out reliable self-publishing tools like Bookemon?

They should look out for the scammers, of which there are thousands and thousands. I help other authors sometimes, as a coach, and am horrified at the stories I’m told about the cowboys out there taking advantage of wannabee authors … especially fiction authors. Not much has changed since the bad old days of vanity publishing.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve had to learn about the publishing process?

With traditional trade publishers:

They have very little ability in terms of marketing and publicity, unless you are likely to be a million seller in which case they draft in people who – at last – know what they’re doing.

I work in marketing and across all my books published by trade publishers (about 20) I have despaired at their naive lack of professionalism in marketing techniques.

That’s why I self-published my last book and intend to do the same with the next few.

With so-called self-publishing services:

Varied. There are some who are worthy of respect as they are honest but equally there are some who capitalize on wannabee authors’ – particularly fiction authors’ – desire to see their beloved works in print and are willing to be scalped stupid for the privilege.

What’s one writing tip you find yourself repeating over and over again?

Write as your audience speaks and in business, write only about what benefits there are here for you, the reader, i.e. what’s in it for you?

Start creating your book on Bookemon

How to Build Up the Students’ Brainstorming Power

Kids have amazing imaginations, but sometimes getting started with a writing assignment can be challenging. There is something about facing a blank page that seems to drain the creativity right of the classroom. Students often need a few inspirational or brainstorming ideas to get their writing efforts moving again in the right direction.

brainstorming power of kids
Kids can make their own books

With a little inspiration, your students can expand and improve their creative writing skills.

But where do you begin? As an educator, you can teach them the mechanics of good writing, but creativity and choosing a topic is actually harder to cultivate. Want more detailed and articulate writing assignments from your students? Want their creative writing to blossom? First you must plant some seeds.

Brainstorming as a Cultivating Tool

Brainstorming is defined as, “A technique used to solve problems and encourage creativity in which members of a group share their ideas about a subject.” In other words, a perfect way to generate ideas for writing assignments in the classroom.

When faced with an assignment, students often lack one clear idea to focus on. They either can think of nothing to write about, or they have too many, unrelated ideas on their list. The solution?

One answer is to hold a brainstorming session, essentially a student activity designed to gather ideas that spark a more focused, creative direction for their writing. Get it started by asking students a few key questions about the assignment and how they envision it. If their story were to be turned into their own published book, what would the inside jacket cover say about the story?

According to an article on Eduguide.org, an inspirational starting point is to simply ask about the setting of your students’ stories. What would be a good setting or location? Have your students describe their favorite place on earth. Keep prompting students for full detail, including how the place makes them feel when they are there, what it looks like, what sounds they hear, and even what it smells like. This encourages those fine details. Keep asking for more specifics like:

  • Who is the main character or focus of the story? What do they look like? What do they sound like?
  • What is the time period of the story? Ask students to pick a date somewhere far in the future or past, and then pretend that they are in that time and describe what their day is like. What is school like in this time period? What is on the front page of the newspaper?
  • Ask what is the message, challenge, or problem is that the story will share with its readers? How will it be solved?

Encourage students to share by setting up a group brainstorming session.

Here is how:

  • Try having students brainstorm alone, then with a partner or a group setting. This demonstrates the benefit of listening to other people’s ideas and how it can help spark their own creativity.
  • Set an expectation that students will come up with a set number of responses in a set amount of time to the basic questions.
  • Encourage all ideas, even crazy ones, to be included.
  • Collect all ideas for each group, then organize them into any obvious categories or by connections. One creative way to do this is to use a dry erase board and markers, write ideas on the board with colorful markers and then draw lines to connect the related ideas.

Students excel at writing when their imaginations and creativity are sparked, and getting started is often the biggest challenge. By posing questions that get them brainstorming, gathering ideas, and finding their focus, you provide the tools needed for them to begin writing with confidence.