One of our parenting groups shared a link that interested me. I learned that our local public access television station was offering a writing contest for kids in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. I clicked through the link and read the instructions.

PBS Kids is encouraging children in kindergarten through third grade to write short stories, spanning between 50 – 350 words, depending on grade level. PBS Kids also shared interesting worksheets and brainstorming guides and checklists to help budding writers figure out which elements belong in a fictional story.

Seeing these materials brought me back just about 40 years. I vaguely remember studying the elements of a story when I was a kid, but I definitely remember them from college. My recollection of academic studies in college is vivid. I distinctly remember what I learned and how it helped shape my thinking. I definitely think learning for adults is wholly different than learning for children.

I showed all the brainstorming activities and story checklists to Leoanna and she politely said “thanks,” but she prefers to write her stories directly in Microsoft Word, a pretty mature reaction for a 9 year-old, I believe.

For 30 minutes, she proceeded to compose a story in a Microsoft Word document. She wrote her first draft of “Butterflies,” a fictional short story with fictional characters, and handed it to me. In the photo below, you’ll see there are some obvious mistakes and room for edits, but so far, the first draft shows promise!

Composing the first draft of a fictional story.

Leoanna is the type of child who takes her assignments seriously, even if it’s for a local contest rather than an actual school assignment. I’m looking forward to seeing the final version and then figuring out which writing project will be next for Leoanna!

Writing contest for kids

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