Steve Bowkett is an author and education consultant. He has written fiction for children of all ages and educational books on literacy, creativity, thinking skills and emotional resourcefulness. His sixtieth book – 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Thinking Skills – is being published in spring 2014.
If you find that your children are struggling to have ideas when planning a story, try this simple and very effective technique. Show them a picture or a sentence and play the coin flip game. Invite the children to ask yes-no questions about the picture or sentence stimulus. Emphasise that the questions have to be sensible and relevant. After each question, flip a coin – heads means yes and tails means no.
The technique is more elegant and sophisticated than it appears. A yes answer means that the children have a definite piece of information that can be incorporated into the story and which can form the basis for further questions. A no answer means that the children have to come up with another idea: there is a ‘positive pressure’ for children to keep thinking.