Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Story Starters: Not Just for Kids!

Do you remember when you were little and your teacher would pull out a note card with the first sentence of a story and you and all of your classmates would write the rest of the story?  Well, things have come a long way since then.  One of my favorite tools for generating story starters is a tool from Scholastic called: Story Starters.  Guess what?  They are not just for kids.  I have turned to this tool several times when I was 'stuck' and needed some guidance to get myself writing again. (Click on any image to enlarge it.)

Story Starters is an interactive tool that allows you to generate an infinite number of beginnings to four different types of stories.  For this example, I signed in as a 4-6 grader.  The varying levels increase or decrease the vocabulary and complexity of the plot.
I decided to try an adventure.  Once I clicked on it, I was presented with a slot machine interface.  I 'pulled' the handle and I received four elements for my story starter.  
 If I didn't like this, I could just 'spin' again.  Or, I could re-spin a specific part of the starter by spinning only the one wheel I hoped to remove.

I decided to go with:  "Describe the appearance of a stubborn gerbil who must locate a secret vault."  Kinda fun huh?

Next I was given four choices for how to format my story.  I chose the Postcard.

When you click on the postcard, it takes you to a writing page where you can begin crafting your story.  

  I like that it keeps your 'prompt' in front of you all the time.  See it there on the right above the 'Done Writing' bubble?  If at any time you want to change the format or change up your story, you can simply click the back button.  Here is my beginning:

When you are done, it gives you a variety of ways to output your story.  You can print directly or download it to your computer.  In this particular example, I could have drawn an image for the front of my postcard, or I could do it afterward, which was much more appealing to me than drawing with my mouse!

The three other 'modes' all provide equally quirky and fun beginnings.  

So, there you go.  The next time you are stuck, or want to help your students to do some creative writing, I suggest giving Scholastic's Story Starters a try!  I'd love to hear your thoughts about using this tool.  How do you think you might use it?  Please post your thoughts in the comments section.


  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I love story starters. They are fabulous. There are a few generators online that I use to get me started. Some nights when I can't sleep, I'll pop over and write down a few ideas. This is an awesome resource. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm thinking that I might be more successful at this than I have ever been on slot machines at a casino, so I'm going to give it a try. Do bells and whistles go off if I have a particularly winning combo?

  3. That's awesome. I'm going to have my kids do this in homeschool!

  4. This is a great tool that I have used with my English Language Learners [ELLs] during Writer's Workshop. ~Suzy

  5. Looking forward to sharing this tool with my grandchildren. Thank you, Todd.

  6. Leave it to Todd to share a greaaat gizmo. Thank you!

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