The other day I needed a home school project for my kids, and being a writer I wanted to do something story related. But my children, and probably most younger children, have difficulty grasping the concept of organizing a story. They do, however, enjoy doodling. So I stumbled upon a very simple way to teach them how to organize and tell a story, which uses kid doodling in a sort of comic book way
I call it Story Art. Here’s how.
Get a piece of paper. You can use any kind of paper, but the bigger the better. My kids like the giant 18″x12″ sheets, but they’re just as happy using a standard piece of copy paper. Divide it into six even sections. You can fold it long ways and then tri-fold it width wise to crease the paper in six equal blocks.
Then take a pen, pencil, or marker and line these sections properly, numbering each block in the top left corner from one to six.
Label the first block WHERE? Instruct them to draw where the story happens. This teaches them about creating the setting of a story. Encourage them to be creative and detailed.
Label the second block WHO? Instruct them to draw who the story is about. This teaches them about creating characters. It can be about as many people as they want. My kids instinctively drew just the characters without placing them in the setting. But as they get used to this process, I’m going to encourage them to draw their characters within the setting. (You can put Who? in the first block if you like. The first two blocks are interchangeable. When telling you the story, your kids are going to combine Where? and Who? into one statement, anyway.)
The third block is WHAT? This is where they draw what happened to the characters or what they did to get the story started. This teaches them about plotting, and specifically about establishing an “inciting event.”
The fourth block is TRY. Here they will draw the character’s first attempt to fix them problem. This teaches them about story progression, rising action, and about how to engage characters with plot.
The fifth block is MESS UP. Here they will draw how the first attempt to fix the problem failed. This teaches them about story conflict and how to build toward a climax. It also gives them a chance to do some character development, because the failure to fix the problem might be the fault of one of the characters.
This sixth block is FIX. Finally, this is where they’ll draw the solution to the problem. It teaches them about writing story resolution and conclusion.
Once the Story Art has been drawn, have your child orally tell you the story. The drawing is not actually supposed to BE the story, but it is merely a visual prompt for them to tell you the larger story in their heads. Have them go block by block, telling you everything their story is about in as much detail as their little creative brains can throw out. They just might surprise you with what they can come up with once they have this very simple way of helping them organize and record the story they want to tell.
Here is my children’s FIRST attempt to do this, with the story they told me underneath. They’ve never before been able to organize any sort of story and recite it to me.
We went to the city and were playing soccer. We kicked it so hard that it went up and broke a window. We tried to climb up and fix it ourselves with tape, but it just fell out again. So we got a grown-up to come fix it.
Enjoy teaching your children how to tell stories!