Here you can learn about my storybooks & download free activities. Visit my website,, to learn about my science educational writing.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


In this activity children draw a picture that tells a story. Each story is inspired by a small object the child chooses from a collection of objects. My colleague Johanna van der Sterre and I taught a StoryArt workshop to fifth graders for several years. It is a fun way to learn the components of a story (characters, plot, setting, title) that can inspire confidence in students who struggle with writing.

ages 7 and up; Download Printable PDF

In this piece of StoryArt, created by a former South Hill Elementary 
School student, a girl finds a necklace that transports her and her 
mother back in time. Their quest is to get back home. The story is
inspired by a golden trinket.

You Will Need:
• A variety of small objects (stamps, coins, small toys, etc. Use junk you find around the house.)
• drawing or Bristol paper, 11 x 14”
• Scrap paper
• Pencil
• Thin black marker
• Colored pencils
• Construction paper, 12 x 18”
• Scotch tape (double sided is best)
• Glue or glue gun

Instructions (in a classroom setting we did this in four, one-hour sessions)
Step 1: Formulate the Story Children select from a variety of ordinary objects (we pass these out on a tray). After the objects are chosen, tell children that they will use the objects as inspiration to create a story. To do this, they should imagine what the object might represent, where it might be found, who may be present, and what might be happening. For example, a marble might represent a planet in a distant galaxy being visited by two astronauts in a spaceship. Or, the marble might be just a marble that fell through a hole in someone’s pocket and got lost. A simple story is fine!

Before the children start, it helps to go over the components of a story: plot, characters, setting and title. A story must have all these components, and so should the StoryArt.
To give children an idea of what they are supposed to do, model the story-making process with an object that no child has chosen. Once they get the idea, they can be really creative; we’ve taught this workshop for four years, and every child has come up with a story.
Provide a brainstorming worksheet so children can put their ideas on paper.

Step 2: Create the Illustration From their imaginings, the children sketch their story onto drawing paper. After the sketch is done they then go over the final pencil lines with thin black marker, and color in the illustration with colored pencil.

Tip: As the children draw, ask them to think about details they can add to their story. This really gets the creative juices flowing.

Step 3: Mount the Artwork Students summarize their story on a small piece of paper (we provide a form with space for a title and a brief description of characters, plot and setting), and mount the StoryArt, form and object on construction paper.

Step 4: Share the Stories! When the students are done, we have them share their stories in a round table discussion. Another great idea: share the stories with pre-readers.

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