Talk for Writing – Inventing

One of the mantra’s that schools are using nowadays is Pie Corbett’s imitate, innovate and invent.  As a literacy team we have spent a long time sharing with others what imitate and innovate mean in terms of writing but have not focused on the invention aspect in any detail.  However, without frequent inventing sessions we are in danger of missing out on a key aspect of talk for writing.

Inventing is where children start to make up stories for themselves, drawing on their bank of told stories as well as their lives and needs to start as soon as children enter school.  These inventing sessions should be oral, guided by the teacher, recycling story language and an opportunity to draw on a range of stories and life.  Pie talks about this is terms of story but in fact children can undertake exactly the same type of acitivity with non-fiction.  Many children will need some props to support their oral retelling and there are a vast range of ideas available.  Here are some of our favourites:

  • mind-mapping what children know about stories in terms of characters, settings, problem, resolution, ending, story language or language features and themes.  Children then use the mind-map as a bank and draw out something from each section and then put them together as a story.  This could also be done for the content for any type of non-fiction writing.
  • If you want to invent a myth or legend then the storycards in the Further Literacy Support (FLS) box are particularly good for this.  If you have lost yours get an A4 colour or black and white set here
  • Interesting props that you have collected which could be anything from a magic key to a unicorn to a special pot.
  • Flickr have a great group called Tell a Story in Five Frames for Kids which is sets of 5 pictures telling a story.  Some of these could be a really useful prop to story telling.  Some could even be used for non-fiction texts such as a newspaper report or a recount.  In fact why not take your own 5 frames to tell a story.
  • Start with one of the seven basic plots for storytelling.
  • For yrs 5 and 6 try one of these statements as a stimulus for storytelling from Adam MaxwellI also like the idea of this site.  Hover over a number and see if you can orally tell what it says.
  • tell the story of the graph.  This is a familiar science activity but can also be used for story.  There are several graph drawing programmes but a piece of paper is probably the best technology for this activity. 

As children become more familiar with the idea of inventing sessions they will start to draw more and more on what they already know and have experienced.  Our role as teachers is to support children to tell in detail using the language that is appropriate to that type of text.

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