Teaching Writing

Once Upon A…Storytime!: Prompts for writing outside


This resource is available to support place-based writing outside anytime of year and comes with related resources and age-level recommendations. Originally developed for Write Out (writeout.nwp.org).

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen

Gather around because it’s storytime! Don’t forget to pack your imaginations! You’ll need them to visualize the colors, the landscapes and the drool (yes, drool!) in the stories that you’ll hear in the following two videos and you’ll also need them to write your very own stories in response. So first get comfy, and then get creative!

Writing “Sparks”

A spark from – Children’s Book Author Catherine Stier reading from If I Were A Park Ranger

Content focus: Book reading: “If I Were A Park Ranger”
Age-level recommendations: beginning
Time: 5:51

As a kid, Children’s book author Catherine Stier loved going to America’s different National Parks; so much so that when she grew up she wrote about them. Instead of just describing the different types of parks–the woodsy ones, the mountainy ones, the beachy ones–she chose to write about what her life would be like if her job was actually to be a Park Ranger!

For this lesson, we recommend that after you listen to Catherine’s ideas about being a park ranger, you put on your own imaginary ranger hat and write a story about what you would do in that same role. Tip: Start your story at the moment you check in to the park for work and imagine there is a big emergency that you need to take care of. This emergency can be something realistic, like a park animal has gotten tangled up in the gardener’s hose, or something make-believe, like the park’s trees mysteriously started sneezing like crazy and you had to find out the cause of it! Why? Because you’re the Park Ranger!

A spark from Lisa Browne of Colorful Stories – Retell the story of Abiyoyo including yourself in the mix

Content focus: Storytelling
Age-level recommendations: beginner
Time: 12:54

Come listen to the story of Abiyoyo, animatedly told by Colorful Stories storyteller Lisa Browne. Join in when she sings her songs and claps her hands so you can help bring this giant of a story to life! Afterwards, we suggest that you write (or recite!) your very own monster tale while including yourself in the mix. Tip: You might want to create in pairs or in small groups, and you might choose to do as Lisa did and recite your stories off of notes instead of reading them from the written page (ask your teacher!). Either way, songs and clapping are always encouraged. Drawings, too!

This post is part of the Story-powered Prompts for Writing Outside collection.