How to Teach Narrative Writing Part 2

Teaching Narrative Writing with Story Starter Cards

Teaching Narrative Writing to our little ones can be daunting at first when they have not had any prior instructions.

I remember one of my kid’s teachers gave the assignment, “Write a story”. There had been very little instruction given and he had no idea where to begin. He just kept crying and saying “I don’t know how.” Some kids do not have the imaginative mindset that others do and need to be taught how to get into that place. 

This is Part 2 of a “How to Teach Narrative Writing” series. If you are just joining us for this series on Narrative Writing you may want to go back to our first post HERE before reading this article. 

Remember we still aren’t using pencils! Or a computer. 

Tip #5  Reviewing is practice

If you are splitting your intro to Narrative Writing into 2 days with your students or doing a few mini lessons, you will want to review what has been done so far, each time. I have my students paper clip their story starter cards that they were given to their writing folder, or if there is a group that just can’t handle that responsibility, then I will use a dry erase marker and write their names on it.

Laminating our story starter cards, helps so that they can be used over and over by various students. I understand that with the COVID restriction this may not be allowed. If you laminate the cards you can still wipe them off or let them quarantine for a few days in between. 

I have students review their setting story starter cards and their sentences. Will their sentence be a different one then they had last time, maybe, and that is ok. Then we review their character sentences. That one might be different as well. I explain that as writers we change our stories a lot. We practice again combining their sentences. 

Tip #6 Adding Story Elements

Many students don’t realize that a story needs to have a problem and a solution in it. They will write a story like this:

Rocky is a dog.

He likes cats.

He likes to lick.

He plays outside. 

Yes, this is a story, but it is not a narrative story. A narrative story has a problem or a situation and some type of solution (usually). 

Tip #7 Make it relate to them

Go over some problems that they have seen in movies and stories that they are familiar with. Some stories have a few problems, for example Goldilocks and the 3 Bears has a few problems. The main problem is that she gets caught sleeping in baby bear’s bed. Now there were lots of issues leading up to that problem, but that is something we will get to later.

The problem needs to be the “Uh-oh!” in the story. Those other incidents weren’t a problem until she got caught then it became a problem. This is a great character education lesson too!

We make our anchor chart of various problems in stories. This can be a lot more difficult for students to come up with than the settings and characters discussed previously, so have some ideas ready to go to help the students understand. This chart and your other story starter charts will be helpful later as you teach Narrative Writing.

Tip #8 Use Story Starter Cards

What are story starter cards?

Sets of cards that have setting words, character words, and problem words. Each card has a picture and a word to go with it. I created these cards to help my students get ideas on how to start a story. Each set includes various cards that have the different story elements.

We use story starter cards that have various problems on them. This is to help the students practice with having a problem for their story. I let students pick out a problem to use from our story starter cards. Then I model my problem sentence. 

For my example; my problem card is, “Stung by a bee”.

Who gets stung? Where? In my story Kim, my main character gets stung on her leg.

She gets stung by a bee on her leg. 

I give the students time to practice making their problem into a sentence or two. They like this part, especially the boys. If they want to add other sentences, let them. Remember we still aren’t writing our sentences, this is all verbal. 

Then we combine all our sentences together. It is helpful for students to lay out their story starter cards in order of their sentences. 

Here is mine. 

The beach is hot and sandy.

Kim likes to play on the beach. 

She gets stung by a bee on her leg. 

Narrative Writing Curriculum

Tip 9: Creating Solutions that Work

Now they are working on their solution to the story.

Let’s look at Goldilocks and the 3 Bears as our example, again.

The problem was that Goldilocks got caught sleeping in Baby Bear’s bed.

So what did she do or what did someone else do? That is the solution. She ran out of the house and ran home.

Look at your anchor chart full of problems and as a class come up with solutions for a lot of them. These can either be done as a T-chart (problem is on one side and the solution is on the other side) or written separately. 

Tip #10 Practice

Ways to Practice “Problem/Solution” Ideas

This is a great activity for students to do whole group, small group or individually. You can pass out various problem cards and have them brainstorm possible solutions. The fun part of this activity is the students get a chance to be creative.

It is important for you to model the way you came up with your solution. Modeling this thinking is valuable for your students to see how they connect.

My problem was, “She gets stung by a bee on her leg.” I know that ice helps bee stings, so I will use that in my story. I also know that there are lifeguards at the beach to help people who get hurt.

Kim goes to a lifeguard to get ice for her leg. 

There are not any cards to pass out for solutions so students get a chance to work on their own. Some students may need to work with a partner to help come up with ideas.

Now it is time to combine what we already have together and practice saying our story. Have the students have their cards lined up and touch the card as they say the sentence. 

The beach is hot and sandy.

Kim likes to play on the beach. 

She gets stung by a bee on her leg. 

Kim goes to a lifeguard to get ice for her leg. 

Our stories are almost done, we just need a conclusion sentence. We will go over that next time. But for now you have a good base to use. 

If you are interested in our Story Starter cards, they are sold separately and are included in our Narrative Unit and our Writing Curriculums.

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


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