In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about short stories. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Short Story topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching Short Stories
As a writing exercise, pick a sentence for students to include in a short story. You may want to choose a piece of dialogue such as “Of course I can do that!” or a silly sentence such as “The penguin told me it was too hot.” Write the sentence on the board and have them create a short story around the line. Remind students that the line does not have to be the punch line, it just has to be used in the story in some way. Have students outline their story, make story maps, and write, revise, and proofread their work. You may want to pair up students to help each other revise and proofread. After they are completed with their stories, have student volunteer share their stories or publish them in a class anthology.
A Big Problem
Remind students that many short stories have a conflict, or a problem that the characters face. Discuss different problems that students have faced and together as a class, create a story map. Brainstorm settings, characters, and different events that can happen in the story. Then have students write the short story. Even though the settings, characters, and events may be the same, the styles will differ. Have students share their work and compare and contrast how the stories are alike and different.
Short Story Study
Have students bring in their favorite short stories and share them with the class. You may want to have students read their stories to the class or have them summarize and create a short story report. Discuss the characters, setting, problem, and events in each story. How does the character change? How does the character face the problem? What is the main character like? Have students make observations about the short stories they read.
Have your students research different historical events and figures. Then have them write a short story “revising” history. What might have happened if we did not land a person on the moon? What might have happened if the Pilgrims did not land in Plymouth? Have students outline their ideas and write short pieces of historical fiction and share them with each other.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching Short Stories
A Story a Day
Expose your child to different short stories by reading a different one each day. Remind your child that short stories spread across many different genres, such as fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction. Read different short stories and discuss how they are alike and different. What is your child’s favorite short story? Why?
Together with your child, look through photo albums together. Discuss favorite family members or family trips and what makes them so special. Then have your child look through old diaries or journals, or even old writings. Can he or she find ideas for stories or characters? Make sure your child writes down ideas in a notebook.
Short Story Redux
Have your child choose a short story and change the characters, setting, or events to create another short story. For example, your child can rewrite “The Three Little Pigs” so that they feature different animals or houses. He or she may want to change the setting to a city instead of the country. Have your child outline the story, create a story map, and write, revise, and proofread the story.