How to Teach Narrative Writing Part 1

It is time to teach Narrative Writing to your students!

Where do you even begin? I get asked this question all the time!

You have a group of 1st or 2nd graders staring at you ready for you to give them direction. Many of them say they can’t write and they are somewhat correct, they can’t. They have never been given the steps and the confidence.

I have come up with some tips and tricks to get you started along the right pathway. 

Tip 1: Make Writing fun!

For some reasons writing is a dreaded time for students. Not in my classroom. My students love writing! Why? I make it fun for them. Check out this article on ways to make writing fun.

Tip 2 : Put all pencils away

I start teaching about writing without actually writing!

Our students may not be able to write stories, but they sure can tell you a story. Have you ever asked a child about their birthday party, what they played at recess, or why the kids are arguing at recess. Many of them will go on with lots of details about what happened. Most of these students would not be able to write that out into a story, yet but they will soon. So I don’t have students write yet, they need some confidence building. 

Tip 3: Build Confidence in Writing

Our students have these skills inside of them, but they need the confidence that they are a writer that they can write. When we use these skills below, it shows students how easy it is to write and that they can do it. They don’t even realize they are writing a story until they are done. They look at it and say, “I did that!” It is so much fun to see.

Tip 4: Give them the language for being a writer

You can’t just say to these young ones, make sure you add details to your setting. They don’t know those words or what that means. So we break it down step by step for them.

Cultivate ideas for Setting

When we ask kids to write a story, most will just respond, “I don’t know what to write.” It is our job as teachers to give them the confidence that it is easier to write than they think. 

Here are some ways: 

I start talking to my students about setting. What is a setting?

Build that educational language now so that they know what you are talking about. This will also be used in upper grades.

What are some settings in various stories that we are familiar with, such as Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. What is the setting? In the forest, at the Bears home. 

Get out some of your favorite classroom books and go over the settings of a few of them. You only need to look at the first page or two to figure most of them out. 

Then we go over different various settings that we could use for stories. We make a whole list on an anchor chart. Once they start going, then others will pick up on what we are looking for. 

Then I pass out our setting cards. I like students to be able to choose, so I put a whole bunch of them all out on the floor.

Teaching Narrative Writing with Story Starter Cards

Now that they have their card, I model making a sentence for my card. I model thinking of adjectives for my setting. 

I have a beach.

The beach is hot. The beach is crowded. The beach is sandy. These are all adjectives of beach and I can combine two so that I would have a stronger sentence.  

The beach is hot and sandy. 

Now I give students a chance to practice with their cards. Again, no pencils or writing yet. I also give them a chance to turn and talk to their neighbor about their card. Sometimes hearing from others is helpful to generate ideas. 

Cultivate Ideas for Characters

We set the setting cards aside and then move onto characters, I do the same procedure above for characters. 

We look at characters from past books we have read and characters that we know from Fairytales.

We make our anchor chart about characters. Students get a chance to pick up a character card from our Story Starter Card Set.

These anchor charts are great to put up in the classroom during your narrative writing unit because it will helps students to generate ideas for their writing. 

I then model how I will describe my character. I like to give my character a name, so that is one of the describing words I will use. 

Once they have come up with their sentences for characters, I model how it looks to combine the character and setting sentences together. 

Mine might look like this:

The beach is hot and sandy.

Kim likes to play on the beach. 

Stay tuned for how to teach adding the Problem and Solution to your student’s stories. 

Check out these Story Starter Cards, they are also included in both our Writing Curriculums and our Narrative Writing Units.

Teaching Narrative Writing with Story Starter Cards

If your interested in the Full Narrative Unit, check out our writing units:

1st Grade Narrative

2nd Grade Narrative

1st Grade Year Long Writing Curriculum

2nd Grade Year Long Writing Curriculum

1st Grade Narrative Writing


All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply