Who says teaching writing skills to children has to be dull and rote? In truth, much learning happens when you infuse writing time with creativity, fun, and games!
You can help your child practice adding details to the middle of a story by playing a variation of hopscotch together. While a great activity for any child, it’s especially effective for active, kinesthetic learners.
- Draw a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk or patio, making each square big enough for your child’s foot (about 12″). Indoors, try marking off a grid on the floor using painters’ tape.
- Explain to your child that the first square represents the beginning of the story, the four middle squares represent the middle of the story, and the last square represents the end of the story. (The two sets of side-by-side squares separate the middle of the story from the beginning and the end.)
1. Beginning: Have your child stand on the first hopscotch square, holding three beanbags or other markers in his hands. For the beginning of the story, tell him a story prompt that includes a problem the character faces. You may create your own story prompt, use StoryBuilders writing prompt cards, or choose some of these:
- Chloe was playing tennis on her Wii when suddenly, the tennis ball flew out of the screen and into her room.
- Michael got a toy remote control spy plane for his birthday, but when he flew it, he discovered it was really spying on him.
- Ethan’s pillow told him exciting bedtime stories. Every night the stories got longer and longer until Ethan couldn’t get any sleep.
- Carrie invented a pencil that had a calculator inside so that it did the math when she wrote down the problem. One day, however, it started to answer everything wrong.
- Bella’s uncle invented a board game with pieces that could move by themselves. Bella would tell the pieces where to move and they would obey her voice. But one day, the pieces told Bella to be quiet!
- Hunter bought a robot that cleaned his room. But last week, the robot forgot how to do the chores.
- The dentist gave Abby a new Talk-a-Lot Toothbrush that told her how to brush her teeth better, but one day the toothbrush said it didn’t like toothpaste.
- Sam discovered a new snack called Hunger Munchers. One small bite satisfied his hunger for hours. But after a few days, Hunger Munchers stopped working. In fact, with each bite, Sam grew hungrier and hungrier until he couldn’t stop eating!
2. Middle: Ask your child to think of one detail to add to the middle of his story. This detail should include how the main character would respond to the problem stated in the story prompt.
- When your child thinks of the detail and states it aloud, invite him to toss a marker and try to make it land (and stay) on one of the middle four squares of the hopscotch boxes.
- If the marker doesn’t land on one of the middle four squares, retrieve it and hand it to him to toss it again until it does.
- Ask your child to think of two more details to add to the middle of his story. For each detail, have him toss another marker on one of the four middle squares of the hopscotch boxes. (More than one marker can be on one square.)
When all three markers are on the hopscotch boxes, direct your child to hop down to the other end, skipping over the squares that have a marker.
3. End: Have your child stop at the other end and stand in that square. Ask him to think of a possible ending to the story. After he has stated a possible ending, instruct him to hop back to the beginning, this time stopping to pick up all three markers.
If your child enjoys keeping score, he may score a point for each of the following:
- Hopping from start to finish without stepping on a line
- Hopping from start to finish without stepping outside the boxes
- Hopping with only one foot in each square (except the first and last squares)
- Hopping from start to finish without falling over
Repeat the activity as many times as your child is interested, using a story prompt each time and practicing adding three details to the middle of the story.
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Created by author Nancy I. Sanders, this hopscotch game is just one of the many fun and creative activities WriteShop Junior uses to teach and review writing skills at the elementary level. This game appears in Book D.