I recently tried a new activity that worked so well, I want to share the full details with you. In fact, below you’ll even find scans of the actual stories produced by my kids and their grandmother. I hit upon this idea while reflecting on the serial stories I’ve written, as a form of captive reading, that feature my children in starring roles in order to strengthen their engagement in the minority language (for us, that’s English).
Let’s call this new activity “Story Exchange” and the basic idea involves having the child write a story in the target language that features a partner—like a grandparent—as the main character. The partner, in turn, writes a story that puts the child in a starring role.
The idea is quite simple, but it’s very effective, and in a variety of ways…
- It provides a creative change of pace from writing letters.
- The idea of writing a story about a family member or friend is inherently engaging.
- When creating their stories, children practice and stretch their writing ability in the minority language.
- After receiving the stories written for them, children feel genuinely motivated to read the text. (Who doesn’t want to read a story that stars you?)
- Children can also exercise their drawing ability by adding an illustration to accompany the story.
- The stories themselves become special keepsakes that could last a lifetime.