1. Sally starts a new school. She is worried because she doesn't have any friends. She goes to school. She makes a friend. The End.
2. Sally starts a new school. She is worried because she doesn't have any friends. She goes to school. There is a magical pony. She and the magical pony ride to an ice world. There is an evil queen in the ice world. The ice world starts to melt, so they go to a rain forest. They play ring around the rosy with some toucans. This story is never going to end, is it?
I finally figured out how to stop all that nonsense in its track. It involves studying how author's build a story, using a super trick from my favorite author Helen Lester, strong character development, lots of planning, more planning, and then finally writing the story.
I'm not going to try to cram all of this into one post because this unit is going to take us weeks. We started out by reading some Helen Lester's books. Love her!
As I read each book, we stop and decide what the purpose of each page was-character development, problem, attempts to solve the problem, solution, everybody's happy now.
For Tacky the Penguin, the breakdown looked like this:
Character Development: 11 pages
Problem: 3 pages
Attempts to solve the problem: 11 pages
Solution: 2 pages (or something like that)
Everybody's happy now: 1 page
This was a real eye opener for my kids. They rush through character development and attempts to solve the problem to get to the solution. Doing this allowed us to pick apart a book and study how an author builds a story.
Up next: Character Development. I've got a fun activity to share with you on that one.