If your kids are anything like mine, putting a blank piece of paper and a pencil in front of them and asking them to make up a creative story or to write a report on a book they’ve read is like handing them a worm and asking them to eat it. It’s torture for them. And it brings tears and temper tantrums. For that reason, I decided to come up with a new, fun way for my boys to both learn how to write a book report AND practice writing creative stories of their own. Thus, Book Burst was born. This exercise helped my boys enjoy writing, so I wanted to share it with you in hopes that your kids will benefit from it as well.
Below are images of the Book Burst book report form. The one on the left will take you to a jpeg image version (8.5x14 size), and the one on the right will take you to a Microsoft Word version, (8.5x14 size, but you can also choose 11x14) where you'll be able to edit the categories, if you'd like.
|MS Word version|
In this exercise, your child will choose and read a simple book. We started with Golden Books. As you and your child become more comfortable with this exercise, you can move on to more challenging books as you see fit. This can easily be adapted for older kids, even into middle school, but choosing chapter books with a higher reading level. But, for the purposes of this exercise, we’ll use Golden Books as our starting point.
Step 1: Choose and read a book.
Step 2: This is where the project got its name. We’re going to “burst” the book open into its parts. Go over the Book Burst page with your child. You’ll notice 10 categories listed on each book spine. - title, characters, main character, setting, plot, six words, three important things, first sentence, last sentence, and moral of the story.
After reading the chosen book, your child will fill out the Book Burst page with information from his/her chosen book. You’ll want to be sure your child understands what each category means. I still occasionally need to remind my 12-year-old what setting, plot, and moral mean. ‘Six words’ simply means for your child to write down six words from his/her chosen book that were new to him/her, or that he/she doesn’t remember the meaning of. ‘Three important things’ is where your child will write three things that happened in the story that stood out as important.
Using the characters, setting, six new words, and moral of the story that your child identified in the book he/she read, have them re-write the story into something completely different and new. Be sure to emphasize that they're not just copying the story they read, and they're not just re-telling the story in their own words. Instead, they're using the basic building blocks of that story to create a new story all their own (which is why they're not using the title, plot, three important things, or first/last sentences - these must all come from your child's imagination).
Turn the Pokey Little Puppy into a scary story. Make the Little Engine that Could become a circus clown. Introduce Brer Rabbit to Peter Cottontail. Anything can happen!
If you think your kids need even more help with story writing creativity, check out my other creative writing project, Story in a Bag, where the kids begin with a few objects, build a book report outline with those objects, then write their story using the outline. My boys loved Story in a Bag even more than Book Burst! But both could be used together for a great creative writing project.
Want to start even smaller and more simply? Get your kids writing more creative sentences with Stretch-a-Sentence. Start with "The dog", and end with "The chubby, mud-covered St. Bernard sat beside the white picket fence, staring at the lazy, hairless cat that lounged in the sunlight." Turn it into an art project, too, but having your kids illustrate their finished product. They'll love it!
Let me know what you think of these creative writing projects. My kids thought they were fun, and their writing improved with each one. I hope your kids have similar experiences. Good luck!