Children Writing Their First Stories
The central concept to the Story Wizard phonics scheme is that children understand from the beginning that they are training to become story writers. This shouldn’t be a daunting thing or boring. The art of writing uses special symbols to represent words and thoughts. The writing we use today developed from people drawing pictures to represent sounds and concepts about three thousand years ago.
Since then we’ve developed alphabets, printing and all sorts of media. Writing has enabled us to learn from people from different parts of the world and from different times in history. Children today will be able to express their thoughts in more ways than at any point in human history. They will be the most advanced word wizards – ever!
So learning to write is exciting. It allows us to send our thoughts and to read the ideas and experiences of other people. We can send messages to our friends and family and we can read useful stuff like how to find the toilet or how to make a cake.
Training to become a word wizard takes time and practice just as it does to learn other skills like kicking a ball or playing an instrument. Fortunately children have one magic skill already – they learn new things really quickly!
In the first week of Story Wizard phonics, children are introduced to the phonemes ‘a’ and ‘m’. They’re also shown the letters in the context of the word ‘am’.
In week 2 they learn the short vowel ‘i’ and also the exception word ‘I’.
In week 3 children can begin to have a go at writing and drawing their first illustrated story book with the ‘My First Story’ activity.
The first sentence they write for their story book is ‘I am [their name].’
At this stage most children won’t have started to learn handwriting and they’re not yet expected to understand the blending of letters into words or sentence construction. However if we refer back to learning other skills we’d begin them by having a go at kicking a ball and we’d have a few toots on a musical instrument before looking at things like notes and rhythm.
The activity isn’t about teaching children to write. It’s about children giving writing (and drawing) a go. It captures the beginning of their journey to becoming word wizards.
The emphasis on My First Story is all about ‘having a go’. We want children to feel they’re having a go at writing their own book as quickly as possible. We also want them to understand that it’s normal for their efforts to improve over time and to enjoy being able to see how their skills develop.
These pictures show children’s first attempts. All of the children are in the Foundation Stage (age 4-5 years) and all of them did the activity in week 3 of their first term at school. Many of the children were able to recognise the words ‘I am’ and many of them were able to form recognisable letter shapes (or close to).
Over the next few weeks children will develop their stories further by writing more sentences using letters and words they have learned during previous weeks. The complete story has nine pages and from week 3 onwards there are additional (more challenging) versions of sentences for children who are advanced (or fancy a challenge).
For the tenth and final week of the activity children can create a front cover for their book which can then be bound. The completed book will show children’s writing (and drawing) progress over the previous weeks. Besides evidence for teachers, this provides children with a record of how their skills improve with time and practice. It also provides children with something brilliant to take home to their parents. A record of their very first efforts at writing.
After they have completed their first story book the children will move on to the initial consolidation stage of their phonics learning and begin their structured learning for handwriting.
My First Story is available from here.
If you’re not following the Story Wizard phonics scheme but fancy using the My First Story activity you can easily adapt the scheme you are using to work with My First Story. The resource includes guidance for teachers to show which phonemes and words need to be introduced to children prior to each part of the story.
A free Long Term Planning guide can be downloaded from here. A free preview and guide to Story Wizard Phonics resources is available here. This set includes: Vowel sounds: ou.…
A free Long Term Planning guide can be downloaded from here. A free preview and guide to Story Wizard Phonics resources is available here. This set includes: Vowel sounds: or.air.ir…
A free Long Term Planning guide can be downloaded from here. A free preview and guide to Story Wizard Phonics resources is available here. This set includes: Short vowel: oo…