Example of the kind of feedback to provide on a story your child has written

The story: The tree house

Once upon a time in a dark gloomy wood live a family of four. There were two children. One was called Ben the other named Kate. One day they went in to the woods. Ben and Kate went to a tree We can build a tree house whispered Kate. Lets get started said Ben. Kate and Ben found some wood.

Kate ran home to get some tools. Mum can I have some tools? begged Kate. Why? said mum. Because me and Ben are building a tree house cried Kate. Okay and take a backpack for you and Ben, it got some things you mite want, when Dad comes home I will tell him to come over said mum.

Kate ran back. Here you go. panted Kate. Why do I need this joked Ben! it might have some thing you need muttered Kate. Like what? said Ben rudely. It got food in and toys those sort of things ok shouted Kate. Yes said Ben. let get finished laughed Kate. Can you hear that? whispered Ben and Kate saw a big shadow. Ahhhhhhh screamed the children. It's only me said dad! Dad helped them finished the tree house. Finished they all said. Time for bed now said dad Dad can we sleep in the tree house Begged the children. No but maybe tomorrow yawned dad. thank you for helping us Dad said Kate tiredly.

The next morning Kate and Ben took there breakfast to the tree house. They stayed in the tree house all day. LOOK shouted Ben. Zombies cried Kate. the zombie's starts to clime the tree house! The king zombie shouted tie them up in your backpack there a knife whispered Ben. Kate got the knife and cut the ropes! Get the food out. Ben got the food out and throws it at the zombies. The zombies ran away and never came back...

By a child aged 8.
Some feedback to talk about with your child

I really enjoyed reading your story! You used many of the ingredients needed for a good story. I've listed them below. There are a few more things that would make it even better though. Have a look at my suggestions and see if you can find ways of improving your story.

What you have done well:
  • Your story has paragraphs.
  • Several events take place, the children in the story:
    • decide to build a tree house in the wood
    • go home to collect some tools and tell their mum what they are planning to do
    • build their tree house
  • There is a hint of suspense, the children see a shadow and scream, but it turns out to be just dad come to visit and tell them to come home!
  • There is an unexpected event/a problem which needs sorting (a complication), some zombies arrive!
  • The problem is sorted, the children get rid of the zombies by cutting their ropes and throwing food to them!
  • There's a good mix of speech and description of events. Sometimes, you develop your story through what your characters/the children say e.g. LOOK shouted Ben. Zombies cried Kate.
  • You've made good use of full stops (including a question mark and an exclamation mark) and speech marks. You've also used some commas.
  • You've used a good variety of different words for 'said' (such as shouted, whispered, muttered and laughed).
Suggestions for how to make your story even better!
(again to be discussed by the parent/guardian and the child)

  • See if you can find a more interesting way of starting your story than 'Once upon a time'. You could start straight in with some speech or in the middle of some action or with a description of the wood. For example: One, two, three, four, five, ready or not, here I come! Kate shouted. She was playing hide and seek with her brother Ben in the woods next to their house. She couldn't see him anywhere! Then you could explain how when they'd finished their game, they decided to build a tree house. Which way of starting a story will you choose: speech, action or description? Perhaps have a go at all three and choose the way you like the best!
  • You could describe the wood more, the different kinds and shapes of trees, the colour of the leaves, what's on the ground (e.g. fallen branches, velvety moss, jagged stones) etc. Try to use some adjectives (e.g. the tall, dark trees), adverbs (e.g. the bright green leaves fluttered gently in the breeze) and similes (e.g. the trees were as tall as giants). What adjectives, adverbs and similes can you think of? Think about the sounds and smells too e.g. Kate tried to listen out for Ben, but all she could hear was birds singing in the treetops.
  • You could create a more exciting ending to your story by slowing it down even more e.g. you could describe how the children were eating their breakfast when one of them heard a noise. What was that? said Ben. I didn't hear anything! replied Kate. There it goes again! said Ben Listen! They looked behind them and saw...
  • You could also describe the zombies the children saw so that I can picture what they looked like and how they moved. Try to use some adjectives, adverbs and similes, just like when you are describing the wood.
  • See if you can find a more interesting last line for your story than 'The zombies ran away and never came back...' e.g. you could finish with some speech and an aside to the reader like this: Look, they're running away! Ben smiled. But what will we do if they come back again? Kate muttered to herself. Perhaps have a look at the last line of 2-3 of your favourite stories to see different ways of ending a story.
This feedback was provided by a fully qualified primary school teacher with many years experience in schools situated in both village and inner city settings, who has conducted extensive research into the effective teaching of creative writing to children up to the age of 14. A number of publications and reviews of this work are available - see site history and reason. The feedback concentrates on the story and does not include basic spelling and grammar aspects, which will be highlighted by red, or green, underlining within any modern word processing application.

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