Getting Crafty

A fun creative way to get students engaged in writing stories is to use popsicle sticks.

A friend and fellow educator once shared an idea for remembering students' names at the beginning of the school year. She wrote every students' (or had them write their own) name on popsicle sticks with markers. Then she'd keep them in a jar, and pull one out whenever she wanted to call on a student. This came in handy in the beginning of the year when she didn't quite know their names, and again later, to ensure the same students aren't always answering questions. I took this idea and used it for story prompts. I wrote random sentences and subjects on popsicle sticks, and allowed students to pick one to base their story on or start their story with. Students enjoy using these prompts on their own for "free write" journal entries as well.

Other activity options:

1. Reviewing vocabulary:

You can have students use these prompts to write stories that include both the prompt, and at least five vocabulary words.

2. Learning new or reviewing old vocabulary:

You could write vocabulary words on the popsicle sticks instead of story prompts. Students can use the vocabulary sticks to learn new words, review old words, or quiz each other.

3. Practicing public speaking, improvisation or just a fun icebreaker:

Instead of writing, students can pull sticks then say the sentence aloud. Then add another sentence to it. Another student will have to add yet another sentence, until all students have contributed to the story. You can add a new popsicle stick for every four or five students to make it even more challenging. You can also time them.

4. Story Builder Game:

Students get into groups of two to five (depending on class size), and choose one stick. They can't peek when pulling it from the jar, nor can they switch it with another one. The students then write a paragraph based on the popsicle sticks. They are given one to four minutes to write (depending on your students' ability) and once the buzzer rings (or you say "time's up"), the students must switch their paper with another group. I reccomend passing papers clockwise to avoid confusion. The next group has to add another paragraph to the paper they recieve but try to connect it to the prompt on their stick. Everyone keeps passing papers until every group has had a chance to write on each paper. Then we all read the stories aloud at the end.

5. Taboo or Pictionary:

students can get into groups, then try to act out the prompt or draw it while others guess what it is.

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