Here’s the guidance and resource materials for teachers, librarians, parents and others who work with children for Episode Three of The Story Thief Challenges.
Story Re-cap questions for children:
- What were the three words of the Story Thief’s message to Aoife and Liam?
- At first Liam didn’t want to meet the Story Thief. What happened that made him change his mind?
- What deal did their father make with the Story Thief and what went wrong?
- How come the Story Thief is stealing their father’s memories too?
- What deal did the kids make with the Story Thief and why does Aoife think it’ll be easy? Do you think it’ll be easy?
Writing advice Re-cap questions:
- Does ER Murray think memories are useful for writing stories? Why?
- What examples did ER Murray give from her own life that ended up in her books?
- How can you use the memories and experiences of other people in your writing?
- What are some of the best ways ER Murray suggested for capturing everyday life and memories in stories?
- If you’re writing a story inspired by a memory, what could you do to make your story different to the memory?
PS: Here’s a Story Challenge for you! What memory from your own life is really important to you? Why? Now try to imagine it as a story and write it down or tell it. Change as much or as little of it as you like.
How to do this challenge?
This challenge is fairly self explanatory. It’s best done individually and could be done by a child at home or a big group of kids in a library or classroom or wherever. And it’s as long or short an activity as you need it to be too.
Choosing the memory
The most important thing is to allow the children a few minutes to think of a memory from their own life. Encourage them to think in silence if possible as Nigel Quinlan suggested in Episode One. Maybe encourage them to think of a few ideas before choosing their favourite one.
Prompt them to come up with an idea that means something to them and that they think could make an exciting story i.e. a story with inherent conflict or drama. You could ask them, ‘Think about a time in your life when you were really scared or really excited or sad or happy’ or ‘Think about something that happened to you that changed your life forever or that you thought was going to be awful, but turned out great.’
If they can’t come up with a memory from their own life then, as ER Murray suggested, it’s fine for them to use a memory or events from their parents or relatives lives.
Converting the memory into a story
Once they’ve picked their memory then discuss with tthem how they can convert the memory into a story. Encourage them to identify the main emotions associated with the memory. Remind them that they don’t have to just retell it. They could:
- Change the setting i.e. a memory of moving into a new house could be set in Africa or on the moon or about a move to a boarding school
- Change the time period i.e. a memory of getting trapped in a snow storm could take place during medieval times.
- Change the characters i.e. a memory of winning a big football match could be with a premiership team or about a suffragette winning the vote.
- Change the genre i.e. a memory of a relative fighting in the 1916 rising could be a space battle against alien overlords.
Most of all encourage them to focus on the emotion of their memory and hold onto that no matter what setting, time period, etc they choose.
Writing or telling the story
Once you’ve done all the above, decide whether the kids write down their individual stories or simply tell them.
If you decide to have them tell the story then the kids could either tell it to the entire group or tell it to each other in smaller groups. Some individuals might be more comfortable telling their stories in a small group. If each child is intent on telling their story to the large group then remember it could take a while. Perhaps set a time limit for each story so they just give the highlights rather than every detail.
If the kids write down their individual stories then this will take time too. Once they’re done, all the stories could be put up on the walls for everyone to read or, if time permits, they could read out their stories to the group. Or they could be compiled into a simple, photocopied book. The options are endless.
Once the challenge is completed?