Stone Age story writing
I’m working on a new children’s book set in the Stone Age. I discovered some amazing Stone Age facts whilst researching. Although we think about ‘cave men’ as only being able to grunt a few words like ‘ugg’ – the latest thinking is that Homo Sapien stone age people had the Fox P2 gene – which is associated with language. So maybe they made up stories too? (this gene has not been found in the bones of the Neanderthals, so perhaps they weren’t as good with words?)
If you want to write a Stone Age story, the story maker on this page will speed you through the planning and help you to get writing. (Teachers: see the instructions below the story maker for tips on how to use flash writing materials in class). If you’d like to write a story about the Vikings, the Romans or a Greek myth – click on one of the historical periods in the right hand navigation.
WORKSHOPS AND ASSEMBLIES FOR SCHOOLS
When I’m not writing books I lead history workshops for primary and secondary schools In the past I have run workshops for Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and the Young Archaeologists society. I also visit international schools with Author’s Abroad. Getting kids into history through creative writing is great fun and I’m always amazed at what the pupils come up with when they write their own stories in my school workshops. In my assembly I offer hands on tips for Mammoth hunting, a Stone Age fashion show and tips on surviving climate change, should an Ice Age unexpectedly occur.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0844 884 1742 to discuss.
For my free .pdf ‘7 Tips for teaching story writing’ email email@example.com with ‘Tips’ in the subject line.
ABOUT MY BOOKS
I’m still hard at work on my stone age tales. In the meantime you might like to check out the Olympuss Games series – it’s set in ancient Rome and ancient Greece, in a world ruled by cats! It’s suitable for children aged 6-8 years old (and with various age ranges in International Schools).
There are three books in the series: Son of Spartapuss, Eye of the Cyclaw and Maze of the Minopaw. Book four – Stars of Olympuss is out in 2016 but I am also working on the third book in the graphic novel series London Deep. The first book in this series was a Recommended Read for World Book Day in 2011. Anyone over 9 years old (including grown ups) might prefer the original Spartapuss series. If you want to find out more about my books, Lovereading.co.uk have honoured me by creating an author profile page for Robin Price. My cat Buster and I are very proud!
The thinking behind this writing frame: ‘Planners’ and ‘Jumpers’
I’ve noticed that there are two types of young writer:
• ‘Planners’ who love to map out their whole story in detail.
• ‘Jumpers’ who hate extended planning and feel the need to get going ASAP.
• Techniques like the ‘story mountain’ are ideal for ‘planners’ but they leave other children struggling to focus.
Catering for different creative personalities
It’s not just children who have different ‘creative personalities’. Some actors (like Dustin Hoffman) love to build up a detailed character from scratch, step by step. Other actors take a flying leap at the character and ‘find’ it in a flash of creativity. Many writers love planning and mapping out complex worlds. J.K. Rowling famously planned out all 7 Harry Potter books before writing book 1. However, other writers like Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel describe ‘channeling’ their characters spontaneously. Mantel does not write her books in order, (often writing the middle Chapters before the beginning). There is no single ‘correct’ approach. Every writer needs to find a way that works for them.
In the classroom, I’ve noticed that too much planning can alienate the ‘jumpers’. They tend to drift away if they don’t get going. Schools cater a lot for the ‘planners’ and quite rightly stress the importance of having a road map to get ideas down (instead of rambling on randomly). However, when a child tells me “I don’t like writing” they often mean: “I don’t like planning.”
Many children are ‘jumpers’ who zone out during the planning.
The solution: ‘Flash’ stories
To get everyone off to a good start, I have developed ‘flash’ stories. Armed with a simple framework (like the one above), you can move swiftly through the planning and get their ideas flowing onto paper.
I often do one example first on the board as a ‘demo’ getting them to vote on options.
1. Put the class into pairs. Give them the writing frame to each pair. Get them to pick one option each.
2. Tell them to write from the most exciting part of the story.
3. Tell them to write the story one sentence each. (Make sure you give them one sheet of A4 between two writers.)
After 5-10 minutes of planning you’ll get everyone writing (in pairs). Within an hour the class should be ready to share out their stories.
P.S. Seven Tips for Story Writing
If you like this approach, there are a lot of ways you can develop it and use it in class. You can introduce or practice new vocab or structures, practice dialogue or even use two flash stories (a few weeks apart) to assess their progress. Flash stories are also ideal for assisted learning (where the adult takes the part of one pair). For my free .pdf ‘7 Tips for teaching story writing’ please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Tips’ in the subject line or call 0844 884 1742 to discuss a workshop.
Feedback on my assemblies and workshops
Robin’s “Spartapuss” assembly was a fantastic combination of Roman facts, story telling and knockabout comedy, that, whilst entertaining the whole school, also cunningly prepared the ground for their own Roman story writing. It’s great to see that children have really been motivated to write for themselves and to read his books. ” Richard Smith, Deputy Head Trafalgar Junior School (April, 2011)
‘Robin has worked very hard giving us a lot of value for money on creating the workshops and on the behind the scenes thinking to bring the project to a head. Robin has been both creative and reliable and has thought through every step of the project. He is professional in all he does and works very well with children and adults alike.’
Dr Elizabeth Dollimore, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Stratford-Upon-Avon.