Disclaimer: I chose to receive these nine books from Candlewick Press, and I was compensated for the time I invested in this post. All opinons belong to me (and my children) and are truthful.
I don’t use formal writing curriculum or require my students to compose stories and essays in their elementary years.
But I do look for ways to motivate my students to write. I want my students to enjoy writing. I want to offer you homeschool writing help, too, by sharing my tools that turn kids into writers.
The best tools in my tool box are picture books.
These books possess a certain inspiring quality–influencing my kids to want to write.
These books also provide opportunities to teach children writing concepts through creative writing lessons.
Write Parts of a Story with Help! We Need a Title!
Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet is a silly book that will produce smiles and provide an easy way to teach your child the basic parts of a story.
After we read the book, I asked Simon what things are necessary for a story. I emphasized six parts: author, title, characters, setting, conflict, and resolution. I created a story brainstorming activity to use with Simon; he gobbled it up. When he was finished, he started asking me when he could write his story!
Note: I designed the page so that your student can type on it, if you want. I have one who loves to type, so I try to include this option when I can.
Foster Creative Thinking with Journey by Aaron Becker
Can you be inspired to write by a book that doesn’t have any words? You absolutely can. After his first time through the book, Simon inquired, “Why was the bird in the cage?” Since that moment Simon has been plotting the answer to his own question, and he intends to write about it. Inspired.
The activity I created for these books, though, doesn’t require any handwriting, but the activity does nurture creative thinking which is an important skill for writing.
Design a Circus Poster with Sidewalk Circus
Paul Fleishman and Kevin Hawkes teamed together to produce Sidewalk Circus, a fun story in which the people of the town, living their everyday lives, are viewed as circus performers.
Read through this book with your student and enjoy the fantastic festival presented to you. Look again and discuss the details in the art. Tons of text doesn’t exist in this story, but the circus posters sprinkled throughout give us clues to the parallels between the circus and the town.
Ask your student if she would like to design a circus poster. The download will provide you with more instructions and information about how to facilitate the process.
Write Dialogue with I Want My Hat Back
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen tells the story of a bear who has lost his hat but intends to find it. The tale includes heaps of simple dialogue between the animal characters. Simon and I used this story as a springboard for writing our own animal dialogue with a simple game I made, Dialogue Dice.
You can find the instructions, lesson plan, and printables for teaching dialogue to young writers here.
Make a List for Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett tells a story that meets and foils the reader’s expectations–at the same time! I knew Simon would love this book because digging holes is one of his special pasttimes.
The writing activity for this book is simple: make a list. The download provides eight prompts to choose from. The student chooses one as a title and writes a list of ten things.
This was Simon’s favorite activity. I am a wee bit concerned, though, at the reasons he digs holes.
Your student may be inspired to do something more than write with this book.
I’m sorry if you find random holes all over your yard!
Compose Fairy Tale Beginnings with Previously
How many times have you heard the tale of Goldilocks or Cinderella? Have you ever pondered what happened to these characters before their star roles in classic fairy tales? Well, Allan Ahlberg has. His book, Previously, connects the lives of these characters and invents pasts for each of them.
The writing activity for this book is to copy the author’s idea–to create a past for a fairy tale character.
Explore Conflict & Resolution with The Pencil
Stories need conflict, and The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg wonderfully illustrates the push-pull of conflict and resolution. As I read the story to Simon, we discussed the problems and solutions (using the handy chart in the download). Then we played The Problem-Solution Game to practice two skills required of all writers: problem solving and creative thinking.