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Teacher Advice -- January, 2008

Last month I suggested that you give your students the first sentence of story that they were to complete. Another way to inspire a story is to give students headlines. Headlines have a shape; now your young writers must add the particulars. Here are a few headlines:

* Gerta is arrested for working too hard.
* Mafia Don's wife runs off with a nerd.
* Martians are asked to leave tourist haven.
* Willy figures out the key to happiness.
* Billy and Olga fall at Gino's Pizza Palace.
* Weight lifter takes up stamp collecting.
* Teacher confronts a cheater.
* Professor learns an important lesson from his cab driver.
* Francisco burns all of his money.
* Dentist cheats his customers.
* Customer cheats her dentist
* Wilma misunderstands her mother.
* Librarian gets even.
* Sword swallower gets the flu.
* Erna misses the point.
* Next time Sam will listen.
* Minister Jones has an evil idea.

Writing a children's story can sharpen your students' appreciation of detail and voice. Plus, they'll like sharing what they have created. Here are a few ways to get started.

You might ask your students to write a simple story featuring three unrelated objects such as:

a wig, a smile, and the Pacific Ocean
salad, a teddy bear, revenge
a grain of sand, an ankle, a broken watch

Try provocative titles such as:

"The Missing Tooth"
"Archie's Strange Adventure"
"Billy and the Nearsighted Donkey"

Don't forget first sentences:

"Once upon a time there was a lizard who hated her name."
"In the land of Grieg, smiles were outlawed."
"It was time for the king to clean up the moat."

To stir up more interest, bring some of your own favorite children's stories to class. Better yet, ask an author of children's books to pay a visit.

Email your advice to

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