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How Does the Story Begin…or End?

Every day has starting and ending points. What time does school begin? What time is soccer practice over? The opening and closing of a story is just as important!

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Directions

    1. Why do stories need good beginnings and endings? Good beginnings get readers’ attentions. Strong introductions hook and lead readers into the story. Good conclusions leave readers feeling satisfied. Most writers figure out their beginnings and endings when they outline their stories.
    2. Students read a few story beginnings such as those from "Charlotte’s Web" by E.B. White or "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst. Consider fairy tales, traditional ethnic stories, and various types of literature to broaden the possibilities.
    3. Students write a beginning sentence to their own imaginative story on a white board with a Crayola Dry-Erase Marker. Read the openings aloud to each other. Which ones capture the most attention? Which ones could lead to an interesting story? With a bit of editing, how could they be improved? List the beginnings that have the most potential on a two-column chart on a large white board. (The second column is for endings.)
    4. Now, write some story endings (they don’t have to match the beginnings). A good ending ties all the threads of the story together, ends any conflict in the plot, and completes the telling of the tale. Students go back to their favorite book and read the ending. Why was it satisfying? Was it exciting, too?
    5. Add the most compelling story-ending lines to the chart. Include types of endings such as statements that summarize the story, predictions of what could still happen, and reflections about events that took place in the story.
    6. Use the beginnings and endings for round-robin oral story-telling in small groups.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    LA: With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Students read selections from "Stories Without Endings: Snapshots" by Lynn W. Kloss. Encourage students to compose their own endings and share them orally with classmates.

    Working in small groups, provide students with an opening statement for a story. This can be a teacher-created opening or a selected student original opening. Each group of students will be asked to write a short story for the same opening. One group may be asked to write a sad story, another a silly story, a third a serious story, etc. Have groups read their stories aloud to compare the various ways a storyline can travel.

    Ask individual students to come together in small groups with their Crayola Dry Erase Markers and an individual white board. As a group, students will be composing a story opening. Each student will provide one word at a time to continue the sentence. For example, the first student may write "Slowly..." The second student may add "...the monkey..." The third student can contribute ..."curled its tail..." and so on until the team has a complete opening sentence. Groups can switch openings and add additional detail to get the story going. Then an ending can wrap up the activity. Share short stories with classmates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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