The younger the student, the more using gimmicks propels learning.
I have found that cartoons, scenes from fairy tales and drawings of steps in a process (how to carve a pumpkin or how to draw a turkey) attract a child to write much better than if I say to a student, “Okay, today we’re going to write a story about a dog.”
So I am passing along a gimmick that might encourage your young students to write: story cubes.
Invented in Northern Ireland, Rory’s Story Cubes are cubes which can be tossed to write stories. On each cube’s surfaces are icons. The idea is to use the icons to create a story. Some of the icons include a tent, bumble bee, turtle, eye, cane, hand, magnet, castle and shooting star. Some story cubes are based on a theme, such as Batman, and include icons of Batman, the Joker, a rocket and Batman’s car.
Another way the story cubes can be used is on an app available on Apple and Android devices. By shaking the phone, the cubes are “tossed.”
The icons are deliberately simple so that they can be interpreted various ways by different story tellers. A castle tower, for example, could mean a castle, or entrapment, or royalty or a chess rook.
For more information, see http://www.storycubes.com. You might also enjoy reading how one home schooling mother uses the cubes at http://highlysensitivehomeschooler.com/20-ways-to-use-rorys-story-cubes/. And if you search for “story cubes” on Amazon, you will find other kinds of cubes and polyhedrons for sale.