An Urgent Call to Duty for All Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Retirees!

Not sure now you can help? Write with the kids in your life that are trying to be home schooled. How? Read on…

In true kindergarten style, I’ve been connecting the dots from conversations with those wanting to help during the pandemic but don’t know what to do, parents on over load who are working at home AND homeschooling their children, parents running out of ideas that are somewhat educational, easy and at very least motivating their children to stay away from gaming, watching t.v.. This blog does a great job describing the frustrations and workloads of many while at home with their families. SO what is my answer?

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Retirees and kids unite in story!

Write virtually! It doesn’t matter if you are in the same room or on the phone with a child or young person you can work with them in creating their own stories.

Huh? Does it work? Children love to share and tell stories. When I was teaching one of my passions was to engage children in the writing process through conferencing. What it takes is time and patience to listen and provoke with questions or suggestions as you take on the role of secretary while the child shares and tells their story or experience.


  • Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Retirees offer your help to the young parents in your life via the use of the phone. (most of you are not able to see the young ones in your life right now) Arrange for a 20 minute to 30 minute call ( if you are lucky it will go longer).
  • Ensure that you have a computer or tablet available with a word/document application.
  • Explain to the child that you are their secretary and you will type their story as they tell it, then after they are finished you will send them a copy to read with their parents. They can edit it, print it and illustrate it, even send their illustrations and text to a photo book company and make their own published book.
  • Brainstorm: These are suggestions…Can I tell you a quick funny story of what happened to me? …kids love embarrassing and funny stories or ones that involve them and how they have touched your heart.
    • Ask the child have you ever thought of writing a story?
    • Do you like sharing and telling stories? Why or why not?
    • Do you like writing stories? Why or why not?…(Bingo! Most kids are going to say I hate writing because I can’t, it’s too hard, it’s too long, it’s too complex, I don’t know where to start).
    • Let’s think of great experiences we have had together or great times/adventures that you have had with your parents, brothers or sisters? A funny story?
    • What is your favorite fairy tale? How about we rewrite with you in it? How could we change it?
    • Slowly wade into and through the brainstorming and you will find that in no time ideas will pop!
  • Explain to the child that you are their secretary (emphasize they do not need to write or type just speak!) and you will type their story as they tell it, then after they are finished you will send them a copy to read with their parents. They can edit it, print it and illustrate it, even send their illustrations and text to a photo book company and make their own published book.
  • Start the story. If you are with wee ones an easy start is the classic Once upon a Time, One day ( you can provoke them with questions like what type of day describe it) or I remember when …. Or for the non fiction lovers Did you know?
  • While you are listening type everything they say! This is important that you DO NOT edit without the child’s knowledge, making sure that the words typed are theirs NOT YOURS even if it doesn’t read ‘right’. HOWEVER, the exception to this rule is that if you reread, question them or offer a suggestion and they accept it and they understand and agree to the change as you discuss it then make the change…this is the beauty as you are showing them how to edit their work. Don’t OVER CONTROL. The story is to reflect their skill. Explain to them that telling stories is like describing a movie in your head. You are the only one who sees the images. Consequently it is important for them to tell you as much as possible of what they see so you can fully understand and enjoy their story. To help them, you will ask them some questions as they tell their story if you need more details to understand the ‘movie playing in their head’.

Tips in Conferencing:

Questions/Suggestions :

  • What makes a great story? A beginning, middle and end.
  • Every story has a problem or BIG MOMENT ( highlight). What is your story’s problem that needs to be solved?
  • Who are your characters? Who are the good guys? Are their bad guys?
  • How old are they, what do they look like?
  • Where does this happen and when?
  • Question tenses… Kids often write in the present tense then flip to the past. (IE should it be went or go or going?) try to gently coach them to stay in the same verb tense. You can say is it happening right now or in the past?
  • What type of noun, object or action…In other words ask about description. ( Is it a clear blue sunny sky or dark rainy and stormy sky?
  • I usually offer two suggestions to the child to pick from or ask if they have their own.
  • Where did that happen? How did that action happen? Who is doing that …what is their name? Why did they do this ( this is a tougher one as it requires them to give that extra detail…this is where they might get tired and you might have to back away quickly or you will lose their interest)
  • Ask for their title.

AND so on ….the key let the child do the talking!

  • Once the story is complete then email a copy to their parents. At this point parents and their child can read the story and make more edits or leave it as is. Encourage the child to read or just the parent can read it aloud.
  • Parents can print off the story on one page or space it with a number of sentences on the bottom and or top of a single page to leave room from illustrations.
  • Child can illustrate the story and a title page with their name and the year.
  • Staple the pages together OR take it a step further by photographing the illustrations, go to editor in your photos add the text then save these edited pages/photos. Enlist the services of a photo book company and set the story as a photo book. The cost will be around 15-25 depending on the company and the size of book. Costco has their service.

Here’s a story from a young four year old that I worked with in my home.

Officer Woody

Once upon a time, there was a policeman. His name was Officer Woody. He liked to have a cup of tea.

One sunny day he was having a cup of tea when bam a bad guy banged on officer Woody’s door.

The bad guy poked a hole in the door.

Officer Woody said, “You’re going to jail! You’re really bad.”

The bad guy was sad. He banged on the door again.

Officer Woody put handcuffs on the bad guy.

The bad guy gave a sinister laugh.

Officer Woody decided to take him to the dump instead of jail. He got dumped with the garbage.

The End

Another collaboration written by a boy and a girl ages 6 and 7 who were visiting and they decided to write a story.

Once upon a time there was a magic tree with ninja kids inside. There were 40 ninja kids. They were family. The oldest was a boy who was 19. His name was Jackson. The second oldest was a girl named Lauren. Then the next oldest was Gabriel.

All the people in the family had a watch that rang when they needed to help people. There were keys outside on a hook. The door to get into the tree house was down low. There were stairs to go downstairs into the roots in the tree.

There were another set of stairs to go into space.

One day there was a bomb in space. The watch alarms rang! Four kids, Gabriel, Lauren, Jackson and Backo went to space to save Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

There were firefighters. When the bomb went off they put out the fire. They saved Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. They took them to a new home in the galaxy.

The kids became super heroes and became Guardians of the Galaxy.

The End

Sample of a story I wrote and illustrated and made into a photo book for my friend Sallie