February 5, 2009

WriteShop - StoryBuilders

WriteShop is a company that has been helping junior high and high-schoolers with writing skills for several years. The company has some new products for younger students that may appeal to you as you seek to teach your children to become creative writers. I got a copy of the World of Animals StoryBuilders and World of People StoryBuilders e-books to review and I absolutely love them!

These e-books mainly consist of StoryBuilder cards that feature 4 sections: character, character trait, setting, and plot. There are 192 printable cards in black print (for printing on colored card stock) and 192 of the same cards in colored print (for printing on white card stock). There are also instructions and ideas along with 48 blank cards - perfect for adding your own touch!

You will want to color code each section to easily identify each stack of cards when printed out. I printed mine on colored card stock. Ella was so excited to get the cards printed out. She had no idea what we were going to do with them, but she couldn't wait! After cutting out the World of People cards, I stacked the 4 decks in front of her and asked her to pick a card from each deck. Of course, I had to read the cards to her, but she was happy to find that she'd picked an amusing astronaut in an abandoned warehouse (she also picked "becomes an animal", but she chose not to use that in her story). She wanted one more character & character trait and she picked an angry soldier! These cards are meant to be a spring board for creative stories when your child has difficulty coming up with something new. With these elements of the story already chosen for her, Ella was able to be much more inventive in her writing (or in our case, dictating!). She usually just writes her own version of stories she's heard before or about her friends/stuffed animals, so this was a good exercise for her. Here's the story she wrote:

An astronaut met an angry soldier. The astronaut said, "Where are you going?" The soldier said, "An abandoned warehouse. What are you doing?" "I am going to my spaceship." So he went to his spaceship. His spaceship was broken. The spaceship had many buttons. Then the soldier came and said, "Why does your spaceship have many buttons?" "Because I bought them," said the astronaut. "You are amusing," said the soldier. The soldier got very angry. Then the astronaut got in his spaceship. The soldier went away. Then he came back. "1, 2, 3," said the soldier. "Is 1, 2, 3 real?" said the astronaut. "Yes," said the soldier. Then the astronaut said, "Climb aboard!" So the soldier climbed aboard. Then they went into the deep sky.

Though she's not old enough to make her story make a lot of sense just yet, I still consider this an improvement on the other stories she's written. I think what I love most about the WriteShop StoryBuilders is that they will broaden Ella's vocabulary. She didn't know what "amusing" meant before this exercise and she now knows the meaning of "abandoned warehouse". Knowing Ella, she will begin to use these words and phrases in everyday conversation after this one activity in which she had to use them in context.

We can use these cards on long trips in the car and we can all get involved in the story-telling. My husband and I can also use them when we have trouble coming up with bedtime stories!

The cards in the StoryBuilder sets can be used alone or interchanged with other StoryBuilder decks. In fact, your child's stories will become even more interesting when animals and sports are added into the elements from which to choose. There is even a Christmas set and more sets are going to be added in the near future. Each StoryBuilder e-book is only $7.95 and you can now get the Christmas set for just $3.95. Because of the e-book format, you will pay no sales tax or shipping.

Be sure to check out all of the TOS Crew reviews on this product by clicking HERE!

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