“That was awesome!” said one fifth grader.

What makes a class awesome on Day 1? Learning a lot and having fun. Here’s why students are enjoying our course on narrative writing:

  • They like journaling and freewriting.
  • They like listening to stories and student compositions.
  • They really like hearing what the teacher has written.
  • They think writing narratives is work—but they can see that it is good work.
  • They like the rewards program.

Curious about what we cover in our writing classes? Day 1 of Narrative Writing is described below. In the meantime, we have another writing course for 5th-6th graders—Expository Writing—in July. The early-bird discount has been extended to Saturday, June 25th. Sign up today.

Narrative Writing: Day 1

Today, we worked on two concepts: story structure and believability. In addition, we worked on different types of journaling.

Journal prompts. From four choices, they wrote on one for seven minutes. After a few minutes, they settled down and focused. Once done, a few of them volunteered to read. Several of the prompts had the seeds of stories in them but lacked key characteristics.

Narrative structure. From there we discussed the structure of stories: setting, characters, plot / action, and, most importantly, a problem that leads to a solution. We read “Little Red Riding Hood” and mapped the elements of the story onto the structure. One student made an important observation: if the problem (saving Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother) had no solution, it wouldn’t feel like a story. Great job!

Freewriting. The kids were quite interested to hear that they could write anything they wanted so long as they didn’t stop. “Is it OK to just write lists of words?” After a think, I decided, “Why not?” So two of them ended up with a page and a half of word lists. This was the activity that was the biggest hit, at least as measured by laughs.

First Narrative Exercise. We chose the topic “What will happen later today?” On the whiteboard, we mapped out possible options for a narrative about what the kids would do later in the day. The challenge was coming up with an acceptable problem. Eventually we settled on “Cupertino power outage.” However, when they wrote their narratives, some of the students wanted to add hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Volcanoes in Cupertino? Hmmmm. This led to the next topic!

Believability. We read the Grimm fairy tale “Briar Rose.” After mapping out the narrative, we took a few moments to discuss believability. We noted that, as a fairy tale, some of the elements were unrealistic. For example, the real world doesn’t have talking frogs, fairies, and massive, fast-growing thorn bushes. On the other hand, within the realm of the fairy tale, all these elements are believable. It would spoil the story to add unbelievable elements, like having the thorn bushes turn into singing clowns instead of flowers. So we learned an important principle: narratives should be imaginative, but still believable.

That was all we had time for on Day 1. It was “awesome” for me too—always such a pleasure to teach a new group of kids!


We have another writing course for 5th-6th graders in July. This one will be on expository writing. If your kids seem mystified about how to write an essay, they need to take this class. Only three spaces left—-Sign up today.

July 18-29, M-F, 9:30am-12:45pm
Limited to six students
Regular Price: $999
Early-bird discount: $899 (good through Saturday, June 25)

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