How to Write a Short Story for Third Grade

Written by kasey hargan
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How to Write a Short Story for Third Grade
A third-grader prepares to write a short story (vacation study image by Paul Moore from

Third grade is a turning point in a child's comprehension-to-creativity development. Teachers will begin to assign short stories to assess a student's progress. While a child is basically ready to tackle this type of homework, first tries are bound to be daunting. A positive approach will help reassure your child and set the tone for future writing tasks. Short story assignments are typically given over a weekend or vacation break to give ample completion time.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Book of short stories
  • Recording device
  • Dictionary
  • Writing paper
  • Pencils or pens

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  1. 1

    When you first learn of the assignment, sit down with your child and explain what a short story is and how it comes to be told. Have a book of short stories handy so that you can show examples. Discuss how the author likely arrived at the idea of the story and point out any colourful character descriptions or interestingly written passages.

  2. 2

    Discuss topics that your third-grader might find interesting -- such as last year's night of trick-or-treating, attending or hosting a sleepover or creating a fantasy about what it would it be like if his dog could talk. Keep it upbeat and silly, letting your child's imagination run free. After several ideas seem likely, have your child select one idea for the assignment.

    How to Write a Short Story for Third Grade
    A trick-or-treat experience or Halloween party could provide inspiration for a short story. (three small bears in halloween costumes image by dav820 from
  3. 3

    If you and your child are out running errands, document any ideas or discussions that pop up about the short story topic on a digital recorder or cell phone. These thoughts can be played back throughout the day and again before sitting down to write the story to keep the concepts fresh in your third-grader's mind.

    How to Write a Short Story for Third Grade
    A pocket-sized digital recorder or cell phone can be used to record story ideas. (ppc image by Oleg Samoilov from
  4. 4

    Place a dictionary on the table as a handy reference to help your child with trouble words. Show your child how a dictionary is composed and explain its functions. When addressing parts of speech or origins of a word, tell your child those concepts will be covered in the school's lessons and to be aware of the teacher explaining them. This will give your child more things about writing and the English language to look forward to in third grade.

  5. 5

    Be aware of your child's body language. Fidgeting or sighing are indications that a breather of some kind is needed. Playtime outside will provide tension release and fresh oxygen for the thinking process. The olfactory stimulation provided by a snack will act as a welcome distraction if writing the story is causing any mental stress. It will give an energy boost if your child is running low. Do not talk about the short story while a break is in progress. This will give your third-grader the ability to return to the task with a fresh perspective.

Tips and warnings

  • Be on the lookout for signs of procrastination. This may be a sign of the child's anxiety about the act of writing a story. Patience and genial encouragement will help the process along.
  • Praise your child's persistence and completion of the assignment. Offer to make a favourite homemade treat, not as a "reward" but as a celebration of the creative process and of being prepared for the next class.
  • Avoid too much commentary on your child's efforts. Criticism, even if meant as constructive, has no place in this situation. Leave instruction on the principles of sentence structure to the educators, who are well trained in these matters.

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