Parent Corner: Supporting Your Young Writer


Family Activity: The Surprise Me Story Swap

Paying particular attention to how another writer puts together a series of words is an excellent way to develop a love for language. As readers, when we lose ourselves in the plot of a story, we definitely learn on one level. If, later, we return to beloved books and pay attention to the writer’s craft, we can learn how writers worked their magic. At Society of Young Inklings, we group the skills of identifying a writer’s craft and applying those strategies to our own work in a mental room we call the “Library.”


Here’s a playful activity that will help you (and your young writers) pay closer attention to the words a writer has chosen.

Activity: The Surprise Me Story Swap
Where to Play: Anywhere
Materials Needed: A book (ideally fiction)
How to Play:
  1. Flip to a random page in the book.
  2. Choose a medium-sized sentence and read it aloud.
  3. The next player uses the sentence as a starting point for a story, and adds a sentence of his or her own.
  4. Pass the story around your small group, each player adding a sentence to the story as you go. See if you can build the story to a climax and then come up with a resolution.
  5. As a fun extra challenge, try a new sentence and see if you can take the new story in an entirely fresh direction. Consider swapping genres, settings, your cast of characters or anything else that will push you into new territory.

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