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Screenwriter Terri Miller Talks With Us About Encouraging Imaginitive Storytelling For Kids

If you keep up with scripted dramas at all, chances are you’re familiar with ABC’s hit show Castle. Terri Miller is married to the show’s creator (Andrew Marlowe) and plays no small role as a producer and writer behind the scenes.

HELP! I can’t get my child to write . . .

We’ve all been there. Making our children sit down to WRITE seems like punishment for them and for us. Us, when they throw a fit, cry, or refuse to do it . . . sound familiar?

How about these real life writing experiences . . .

  • LISTS – make a grocery list of your favorite foods, make a list of all the toys you want, make a list of your friends, make a list of your favorite animals in order of preference, etc.
  • POSTCARDS – buy or make postcards – think of friends to write to, or family, and write a quick hello and how are you.
  • DEAR MOM – write a letter to argue for a pet or an allowance raise, make sure you list all the reasons you should get it.
  • TABLE PLACE CARDS – write down everyone’s name and make a seating arrangement for the table. (Even little ones can do this)
  • DIARY – get a new diary and write something every day — mom and dad can’t read it!
  • SUGGESTION BOX – Make a suggestion box for your family, and have family meetings to discuss.
  • MAP – Draw and label a map of your backyard, neighborhood, or park
  • ALL ABOUT BOOK – on your favorite subject (worms, ghosts, rocks, solar system, airplanes) – use the internet and books from the library
  • SURVEY – conduct a survey about favorite foods, favorite ice cream flavors, (can make into a graph later)
  • COMPUTER WORD PROCESSING -Write something on the computer and add pictures from clip art.

Does this help? Will you comment and let me know if you’ve found any that work for your child or other ideas that you’ve tried?

Read your own book

Hate to read? Learning to read?
Read a book you wrote. Yes, you’ll have to write a book – more on that in a moment.
Melissa Depper, a youth services librarian at Arapaho Library District, reminded me today how helpful it is for struggling readers to read their own story. She said, “Have the child dictate to you a story. The story will be their vocabulary and their ideas. It makes it easier for the child to read it.”
Even early, early readers . . . my four year old “wrote” a book this summer and it was a favorite pick for bedtime stories. She wrote words she knew like “pop,” “dad,” “mom” and illustrated every page. She felt so proud of her first book!
And now to write a book . . .
Do not panic.
You don’t have to buy a fancy book making kit but, if it helps, give it a try. Amazon carries one called IlluStory Make Your Own Story Kit However, no need to spend money, you can easily fold a stack of paper in half, staple and create a book of any length.
How do you choose a topic?
Write a small moment. Something from the day that just happened. Something that happened earlier.
Write about firsts – first day of school, first lost tooth, first trip to ______, first plane flight, first bike, etc.
Write about a pet – how you got the pet, how to take care of the pet, why you chose the pet, etc.
Stuck? Email me (melissa at or post a comment so everyone can help.  For more learning ideas go to Imagination Soup.

Happy writing!

Mama Drama: Morning Routines and Evening Hysteria

Dear Mama Drama:
Every morning we struggle with my five-year-old son to get him ready for school and out of the house on time. He needs lots of one on one support to complete even the most basic tasks such as getting dressed. He can’t remember what to do next and often stops to play with toys or sing the song on the radio.
~Tired of running late

Dear Tired:
Many children need extra support getting through their morning routine. When we stop to think about all the small steps involved, it can be quite daunting. As adults we have practiced these routines thousands of times throughout our lives. Our children are often still figuring out what each step is and how to keep track of it all.

Creating a visual schedule for your child is a great place to start. You can use pictures of your son doing each activity, clip art, pictures from the web or cut out of magazines. Add captions or directions with the picture even if your child does not read well yet. Start with the basics such as getting dressed, bathroom routine, and heading out the door. Then break these down into the steps they require. Having separate charts for each of these tasks helps to keep it simple.

An example is