Sunday, August 16, 2009

How to Teach a Child to Write a Novel

This spring, I formed the Junior Secret Noveling Club, a small group of kids who wanted to learn to write novels. The kids were between ages 7 and 9, and all homeschooled, all brisk little chirpy creative spirits who were game for my games.

I developed a curriculum to teach them the nuts and bolts of writing a novel, from developing a subplot to placing significant objects in the setting, even giving their hero a tragic flaw. I introduced a lot of concepts and techniques which children wouldn't typically be exposed to, with the idea that learning the hows and whys of novel construction would make them better readers. Even if they weren't necessarily going to sit down and pen
The Grapes of Wrath, they would approach their reading material with a new level of awareness.

The "club" was set up kind of like a mini-scouts, with badges to earn (conflict, villain, chapter list, etc.), a secret handshake, and an oath to begin the meetings. The students kept a notebook and filled it with their activities in class, the worksheets they did to earn badges, and their homework assignments.

We did eight weeks of progressive lessons, including a little bit of grammar and a lot of silliness and games. At the end of the session, they walked away with a detailed plan and chapter list, well prepared to launch their novel-writing. They also walked away with a new attention to the "behind the scenes" aspect of books they were reading, newly conscious of the decisions authors make and the reasons they make them. At the end of the course, they "graduated" and I authorized them all (in the silliest way possible) to go and be novelists.


This course has been updated and the new link to download is here

NOTE: If you do not have random picture tiles, you may download and use these PDF
grids, thoughtfully provided by reader Deanna Butler, to print on cardstock: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Do you have questions about these lessons? Email me at lydianetzer at gmail dot com. 
Follow me on Twitter: @lostcheerio

62 comments:

  1. What an awesome course to do! Thanks so much for the free lessons.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Elizabeth12:00 AM

    This is great! I really appreciate the free lesson plan and built-in motivation (NaNo). Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm dropping by from the Carnival, and I will definitely be passing this post along to a friend of mine who has a young daughter who loves to write short stories.

    ReplyDelete
  5. very cool. LOVE the lesson plans.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm always looking for inexpensive - or, better yet, free - but quality resources! Thank you so much for sharing your gifts!

    ReplyDelete
  7. That is fantastic. That would be a great thing for me to teach sometime at our co-op.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This looks amazing! Thank you for sharing with homeschoolers in this way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank You!!!

    This sounds great I can't wait to get my kids started!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Looks like great ideas! Thank you so much! Pamela
    http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/joyfulschool/

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous6:54 AM

    Wow! This looks like a thought-provoking brain exercise that will have fun results! I want to write a novel NOW. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you so much for this wonderful resource! My boys and I are excited to start!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love it! Thank you fro sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I found you through Homeschool Freebie of the Day. This is fantastic. My daughter is an avid writer and this will be great for her. I will definitely start reading your blog. Thanks again for the wonderful resource.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for providing this course. I have a daughter that is an aspiring writer and these lessons will be be useful.

    I love ideas like this that go beyond the scope of traditional schooling. What freedom we have in homeschooling to learn in delightful ways!

    Thanks.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you very much! It is very well done. I appreciate you sharing with us!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you so much. This looks great. I will definitely be sending people your way

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Thank you so much -- these plans are wonderful! Christina

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you so much for the wonderful lessons!! I appreciate your hard work and your willingness to share that with us!! I twitted about it.

    Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I put the link up on my FB page! Thank you.

    Jenn Purdy (Atlanta)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Hi Lostcheerio,
    Thanks for the lessons! We are starting a reading club and book chats and this is a great supplement to it!

    Lori (BC, Canada)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I've been teaching writing and novel writing to homeschoolers for several years. I'm very impressed with how you put this together. Great job!

    Debbie (Colorado)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you! I had just blogged about your course last night, so it was funny that it's the freebie of the day today. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. thanks for your offering today~We are going to download and link you at our site:
    http://sistertipster.blogspot.com
    Tell'n It!
    blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for a great idea! It came at the perfect time... my daughter has been wanting to write a book; and we just moved to VA from ID and will be homeschooling on our own this year (we've been in a very structured co-op up 'til now) so this is gonna be wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is awesome. My daughter wants to start a novel writing club. I will be visiting your site again. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Alecia2:11 PM

    Thanks SO much for sharing this. It's DEFINITELY going into this year's homeschool curriculum for the kids AND me! We might even do it with our 4-H club. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is very generous! Thank you. My daughter enjoys writing and we'd like to try to get a group together like this.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I don't teach in a homeschool setting, but I do work with kids at a Boys & Girls Club, teaching them poetry and essay writing, among other skills. We are limited on our budget, so thank you for sharing your curriculum -- and for creating it! It looks like a LOT of fun.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have been wanting to do this very thing with my homeschooled children. Thank you so much for giving me the tools!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great resource! Thank you. I'm teaching a writing class at our homeschool co-op in Sept.

    Molly

    ReplyDelete
  32. WOW! Thanks for offereing thos on the Freebie! This will help out a lot as I am also using another freebie resource similar for school this year. My boys, and I, am writing a story.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've read all the way through the lessons and CAN'T WAIT to begin! I'm teaching a writing co-op this fall and will definitely use this for prose. This sounds good for all ages. Do you have any lessons for poetry?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for the blessing!
    Finances have been very tight and your generosity is filling one of the gaps in our curriculum.
    (((((((((Thank you))))))))))))
    Glenda

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thanks, this looks like a fun way to get kids writing. I also love your Treasure Island ebook and am eager to use it with my homeschool group.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have been looking for a way to boost my child's enthusiasm for writing and this is just wonderful! Thank you! I digg'd it too!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Ashley M.10:39 PM

    Thank you very much for being so generous.. & creative!! ;D I still have littles but this looks very exciting for one day soon! It is appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for this resource. I have participated in Nano for the last two years and hope to have my son, age 11, join me this year. I look forward to digging into this material.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'd love to download this one, but my computer says, "File Damaged" and that's as far as I get. Any advice?
    Vicki in South Africa

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks so much! We live overseas and have our kids in local schools and I supplement my kid's English education at home. This is so wonderfully helpful! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you for the free ebook on how to teach children to write a novel. i hope to put it to good use this year. blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Anonymous9:05 PM

    Oh, wow! Thanks so much - this looks like a really fun way to learn to write!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thank you for this, much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Thank you so much for sharing this :)

    ReplyDelete
  45. I was searching for ideas to help my daughter with nanowrimo this year and then... here you are! Thank you so much for the wonderful work you shared. I can hardly wait to get started! Nanowrimo is going to be better than ever this year!

    ReplyDelete
  46. I've been working through your course with a co-op group, and its going FANTASTICALLY! Thanks so much for putting this together.

    On lesson 6, I didn't have any random magnets (I know, right?) so I just spent some time creating some PDFs with 100 tiles of free clipart images that I found online - I wanted to let you know that if you want a copy of my PDFs to offer with lesson 6, I'd be happy to email them to you. If not, no biggie :-) I printed them out on cardstock, cut out the tiles, and let the kids draw five random images.

    Thanks again for this course. I told my daughter tonight that we were almost done with it, and she asked if we could teach it again as soon as we were done :-) The kids (I have 6 in the group, ranging in age from 7-11) all LOVE it. They are so engaged and best of all, having fun!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Wow, Deanna, that would be fantastic! If you email it to me, I can post it, or if you would like to keep it on your site I can direct traffic your way. As you wish! :) Thanks for doing that; that will be really helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I found your email address ;-) Files are on their way. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  50. this kind of blog always useful for blog readers, it helps people during research. your post is one of the same for blog readers.

    ReplyDelete
  51. What a fun idea. When I was a child, I tried to write a novel (I worked on it secretly during math class), and I know your course would have thrilled me. I love the way you set it up as a secret club.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I homeschool and would love to have the pdf file of this, but it isn't working. Maybe you could email it to me? I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thanks in advance,
    Melissa B.
    mbabecka@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  53. OSA online school admissions : A schools directory of India where you can find all the schools in India and select best school as per your requirements, Schools admission forms are available there on OSA .
    fOr all the latest updates on schools in India.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Lydia-

    I'm using your curriculum to teach a class of 12 girls, and I can't even begin to tell you how excited they are! (I am, too)

    For the notebooks, I bought mini-photo albums at the dollar store (the kind with holographic images of dolphins, etc), and I used a permanent marker to make the circles for their stickers inside.

    Your printable pages fit right into the album pages, and I also bought small lined pads of paper in different colors for the additional assignments.

    Thank you so much for such an excellent course!

    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  55. Anonymous6:28 PM

    have you ever thought about using Creations by You's Product Illustory - it takes stories your kids have created and publish them into hardback books! They also have FREE programs for teachers and schools called StudentPublishing.com - it provides each student with a FREE paperback copy of thier book!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Anonymous8:46 PM

    Hey!

    First of all, I want to say thank you so much for this. It's simplified the writing process so much, even for me, and I really enjoyed just reading through it.

    Second of all, I am a fifteen-year-old homeschooler who's graduating this year, and I'm also a writer. I hope to convince my mother to let me teach this class next year!

    Thanks so much :)

    ReplyDelete
  57. I'm excited that I found your lesson plans for teaching a child to write a novel and can't wait to try this with my daughter. Unfortunately, the links to the worksheets aren't working. Help! Are they still available??

    ReplyDelete
  58. Are these pages no longer available? I was planing to use them for writers co-op.

    ReplyDelete
  59. unable to contact Lydia to get a copy of the pdf and worksheets.
    I've pinned on Pinterest and posted on FB. My email to her comes back.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Hi Marni! My email is lydianetzer@gmail.com -- send me an email and I'll shoot you that file! :)

    ReplyDelete
  61. We just finished it last week - this was the second time I taught it. Once again, on the last day of class, I got asked if I plan to teach it again. A few of my students took it both times, and loved it both times - there was a couple of years in between - I told them I may teach it again in a couple of years..

    ReplyDelete