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Monday, February 2, 2009

WriteShop StoryBuilders...a World of Imagination!

If you think about it, story-telling is an important skill that can have a major impact on a child's overall writing skills. Story-telling (or narration) can teach important concepts like logical progression, and reinforce information learned, but it can also help to teach proper grammar and expand a child's vocabulary. You can start it at any age, once your child learns to talk. And best of all, it's fun! Or at least it should be. But maybe you have a reluctant child who just can't seem to latch hold of an idea to get started? Or maybe your child loves to tell stories, but they are always about car chases and jedi knights? Or maybe you sometimes get stuck when it comes time to tell a bedtime story? WriteShop StoryBuilders might be just the thing you need.

Each set of StoryBuilders comes with 4 types of cards that you can print out on cardstock: character cards, character trait cards, setting cards and plot cards. You have the option of either printing them in color (each card type has a different color font so you can easily keep them separated) or in b&w on colored paper. You get 48 different cards of each type and some blank templates for adding your own ideas.

Now what do you do with the cards once you print them and cut them apart? There are so many ways to use these. You can start by separating the cards by type into 4 piles, then have your child choose one card from each pile. If he's a reader, have him read them aloud and then organize them into a sentence or even a story. If he wants to write a story, that's great, or have him narrate the story to you and share it with your other children. If he's not a reader, that's okay, too. Read the cards to him and have him tell you the story. Make it a game...who can tell the most elaborate story from the same 4 cards. Or the funniest story. Or have him choose 2 character cards and 2 setting cards---can he come up with a story with a speed skater, a trampoline acrobat, a dangerous mountain mountain and a rowboat? Or a gorilla, a peacock, and an iceberg under the couch?

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was asked to try out and review "World of Animals" StoryBuilders and "World of Sports" StoryBuilders. These are a bunch of fun! David, our 8-year-old, loves to tell stories, but using the StoryBuilders has really expanded his horizons. I especially like the inclusion of character helps him think about and develop the character's personalities, rather than painting a flat picture where stuff just happens. It also gives us the opportunity to talk about things like a character's motivation, you know, that kind of stuff they try to teach you in high school?

These are a welcome addition to our homeschool "extras." Each story is utterly unique and the unusual settings and unexpected plot points really help to stretch the imagination beyond the realm of everyday things. But, best of all, the cards are totally portable...they'll definitely be going with us on our next car trip!

Each set of StoryBuilders is available as an e-book from WriteShop for $7.95. Also available are "World of People" for $7.95 and the "Christmas Mini-Builder" for $3.95.

For reviews of these and other StoryBuilders, click the link below:

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