Use Toys to Inspire Imaginative Short Stories: Language Arts Lesson Using Creativity and Favorite Childhood Item

Need a creative idea for a writing assignment? Ask students to find their favorite childhood toys to help them write interesting stories. They will need to create an imaginative setting, a task or conflict that the main character needs to complete or resolve and a happy ending or resolution before they write the first draft.

Fun Homework: Find Old Toys

Assign students to go through their old toys. They must bring a well-loved one to school. It should be an item that brings back positive childhood memories. It could be a stuffed animal, a doll, a truck, a ball, a blanket, etc.

Brainstorming Descriptive Ideas

Ask students to place their toys on their desks. Tell students to write down the following in a brainstorming list:

  1. descriptive words that describe the item
  2. memories of the item
  3. where the item currently is stored or placed

The brainstormed list can help students think of ideas for their story elements before they begin writing the story draft.

Choosing Story Elements

Now that students have a brainstormed list for the toy, they need to choose story elements that use the item in a creative way. The story elements can be written on the same paper as the brainstormed list.

Students need to choose a setting. It could be in the present day, fifty years ago or an imaginary place. The important thing is that the students describe the setting well.

Characters need to be developed. The toy could come alive magically and become a main character in a short story. It is best if students keep the number of characters to two-or-three. Generally, middle school students cannot develop more than three characters in a story.

Choose a Great Conflict

Ideas for a conflict are as follows:

  • journeying to a destination
  • fighting an evil foe
  • surviving a storm, hurricane, volcanic eruption, or blizzard
  • growing up or becoming an adult
  • relationship conflict — friend or family
  • fighting a supernatural foe

Once students choose a conflict, they need to write it down and tell how it will be used in their story.

Putting it All Together

When the students have made decisions about the setting, characters and conflict, they need to decide how the story will end. Choosing the resolution before writing a draft will help the students not to ramble on for pages.

Writing a Draft

After all of the story elements has been decided, students can write their short story based on their favorite childhood toy. They should share their draft with a peer. After the draft is peer edited, the student should write a final copy.

Assess the story with a rubric. Criteria for the rubric could be content, use of the favorite item, organization, creativity and writing conventions. The stories should be imaginative. The best part is that the students’ childhood toys inspired the stories. These stories will hopefully be loved as much as the toys the students brought to class.