Us primary school teachers know how important it is that your kids know how to write clearly and accurately. They need to be able to write lists, instructions, letters, emails and be persuasive, friendly or formal. All depending on the audience for their writing. That’s why we focus so much on story writing – all that creativity in writing stands them in good stead for any kind of writing. If you can create a narrative with story line, characters and setting, use paragraphs, adjectives and adverbs, you will not only better understand the stories you read but you can transfer those skills to writing a request letter, a good resume or a clear account of an event.
Supporting our kids to write
But how do we support our kids to write? Whether its fiction writing or not, all good writers begin with a plan. They map out what they want to say and then create a detailed structure for their writing.
We seem to see more boys than girls that tend to struggle to get started with their story. “I don’t know what to write” is a fave phrase in many a primary school classroom :0)
So, we can use Mind Mapping to make sense of their ideas and thoughts. Properly done, Mind Mapping is a thinking tool that uses the brain to its best ability, it’s based on neuroscience research and was developed by a guy called Tony Buzan. (He has a great website here). But for today’s post, we just need a quick beginner’s guide:
How to Mind Map
- Write your topic or idea in the centre of the page
- Make sure your paper is blank – no lines or grids allowed
- Take one colour and draw an ‘arm’ off of then central idea.
Write ON the arm -NOT at the end of it (that’s a concept map, a good place to start with young kids but not mind mapping)
- Now draw an arm off of that one – in the same colour – and add another thought.
- Keep going!
- Go back , with a different colour, and add another ‘arm’ – this one should be focused on another idea…
So Mind Mapping works by getting kids to think around a framework of ideas. They work because our brains really, really don’t like empty ‘arms’ on this kind of thing. So, we write ON the lines so the end is open – this makes our brains want to add more, and we tap into our imaginations and ideas. Clever, hey?
If your child is Grade 3 or older try Freemind – an online free mindmapping software tool. Really easy to use and just works.
Here’s an example…
But our kids in primary school, are often not quite ready for full on mindmapping – so we start small and focus on building their skills in brainstorming first.
To do that there’s a really great, free website called Popplet that you should go have a look at. Here’s an example from a Grade 1 student who was planning a story the other week:
Great isn’t it? There’s his story structure – introduction, problem, solution – and there are his characters and the story setting. This child went on to write a great story that he didn’t know he could produce :0) Win all round.
These ‘Popplets’ are great for non-fiction writing too. Next time your child has a project or story to write and they are complaining about having no ideas – try Popplet.
It’s an app on your iPad too and it really easy to use. Share them by printing them or saving a screenshot :0)
This one tool can make a huge difference to your child’s learning – and can give them a step up in what they can achieve :0) Always nice to be able to offer our kids a tool that is so useful in so many ways.
Does your child struggle with writing? What have you tried to get them going? I’d love to hear your thoughts :0)