TOS Crew: WriteShop StoryBuilders

TOS Crew

Here’s a cute idea to spur the creative writing juices!

The authors of WriteShop have come out with StoryBuilders, cards which you use as story-starters. Each deck of cards contains cards with four elements:  a character, a character trait (think adjective), a setting, and a plot point. The cards are color-coded for ease of use. You can either print on colored paper or cardstock with black print, or you can print on white paper with colored ink.

A practical note

Just to let you know, we found printing on colored cardstock the best option for us. The colored cards are easier to sort than having to look at the print color on all-white cards – I suppose you could draw colored borders around the cards to make sorting easier, but who has time?

Playful approach

The best way to learn to write is… to write! Experience and anecdotal evidence from other homeschoolers shows that daily writing is the best road to being able to write. The only problem with daily writing is the dailiness of it all!

Have you ever noticed that a little random silliness can spice up a routine? (Mad-Libs is an example of this. Somehow adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adverbs take on a whole new life with this approach.)

StoryBuilders works because of its novelty and the fact that it employs random chance to generate surprise, followed by creativity. It’s designed to jar you and your students out of the rut of dailiness. The instructions for using StoryBuilders include several methods of using the cards, from straightforward selection to rolling dice, as well as ways to use the cards with groups as well as individuals.

I just drew four cards at random from the World of People StoryBuilders set, one from each category (character, trait, setting, plot), and here’s what I came up with:

Clumsy detective meets a Biblical character in ancient Egypt.

I think I can do something with this. Perhaps Pharaoh has set this private eye to spy on the Israelites, to find out what their secret is…

Each member of the TOS Crew received two StoryBuilder sets to play with. We received World of People and World of Sports.

A pleasant surprise

World of People has a broad scope of characters, settings, and plots, as I expected; but World of Sports surprised me. I was expecting a limited scope, with just sports-related topics, and I sort of expected the set to appeal more to boys. (Call me old-fashioned. It’s silly, too, because our girls love sports!) However, the set isn’t just for football, basketball, and soccer players, but rock climber, bicyclist, and dancer (among many more!). With 192 cards in the deck, there’s a lot to choose from!

Blank cards are included so that you can add in your own ideas. If you print out the whole set, you’ll have 48 blank cards, but of course this is an e-book, organized so that the blank cards are together on one page. This means you can add to your set by printing out as many blank cards as you want, without wasting ink! (I love products that are put together with obvious forethought.)

Versatile, suited to all ages

One of the beauties of StoryBuilders is that you can use it with any age, or a mix of ages. With a younger child, you might work together, brainstorming ideas, and let the child dictate the story to you while you write it down.

One child might write a paragraph, while another goes on for pages. Your student might draw additional prompts to add twists to an ongoing story. Students can trade stories and add on! There are lost of ways to use StoryBuilders to spark creative writing.

There are currently four sets available. Prices reflect current discounted pricing at the WriteShop website. Click on the title links below to go right to the order page for each e-book title.

World of Animals – $7.95
World of People – $7.95
World of Sports – $7.95
Christmas Mini-Builder – $3.95

Read more about StoryBuilders at the TOS Crew Blog.

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