Writing a story or a paper on a topic for class can be frustrating. In the picture book A Squiggly Story (2016, Kids Can Press), authors Andrew Larsen and Mike Lowery offer a delightfully playful approach to creative writing. Although the story features a young child, the book’s message of getting story ideas down first by using squiggles and a few letters applies to any age.

A different graphic approach may be used for nonfiction writing. The “Fishbowl” is an easy way to come up with words and sentences for an organized presentation. 

1. Let’s say your child has chosen to write about service animals. After researching the subject, draw and label three or four fish with topics suggesting what a reader might want to know about service dogs.


2. For each “fish”, draw a fishbowl and in it write as many words that come to mind about that topic.


3. Draw rays out from the bowl. On each ray use words from the bowl in sentences that fit the topic.


4. Put a lid on the fishbowl (to keep the cat out). On it write a topic sentence.

Many kinds of animals work as service animals.


5. Write your first paragraph using what has been written already, making corrections and editing as necessary. The article almost seems to write itself!

Many kinds of animals work as service animals. Dogs have been used as service animals for many years. Some people prefer cats. Monkeys and horses can have jobs, too. Even parrots can be service animals.

6. Wasn’t that easy! Now you are ready for the next topic and a new fishbowl for “USES”. . . . 

7. After finishing your final paragraph, don’t forget to include a summary statement!

Image ©Susan Young Hoffman 2016