If we learn all we need to know about life in kindergarten, then first grade must be when we learn how to be professional writers. At least that’s what my daughter’s first grade class is learning. Her public elementary school in Seattle recently invited parents to come and watch an hour of a normal day in class to see how our kiddos spend the day. The scheduled hour was the time of day labeled “literacy” on the schedule in my daughter’s classroom. I went, I watched, and I learned how to write.
The class was working on Story Blocks. Over the course of a week, their teacher read them a picture book. They had a little worksheet that they filled out each day after reading the story. To fill out the worksheet, they had to break down the story into “blocks.” Then they turned around and filled out a new worksheet for a story of their own imagining. Using the worksheet as their outline, they wrote their own stories.
I was so impressed that I asked for my own copy of the worksheet, and I’ve started using it as preparation for outlining my own fiction projects. I think it strips storytelling down to its most fundamental – and useful – steps in a way that other exercises don’t.
What do you think?