Writing Historical Fiction: Zero in on Kids' Favorite Times and Places

Writing historical fiction enhances kids' unique interests. Assign historical fiction writing prompts instead of writing non fiction reports.

An Historical Fiction Writing Tip: Time Machine Tours! 

Step 1:The best historical fiction writing exercises are gleaned from age-appropriate historical novels themselves. Through an informal survey, create a list of places and eras of history that capture your students' interests. These might include the Americas before the age of European exploration; Japan during the time of the samurai; Polynesian exploration of the South Pacific; ancient Egypt, Greece, or Rome; medieval England or Europe.

Step 2:Allow literature groups to read two or three historical fiction titles set in these specific eras.

Step 3:Present a time machine tour, similar to this one:"Close your eyes. Step into the time machine and listen to the machine's whirring hum as you are transported through space and time, back, back, to the most fascinating place you've just read about! This place and time has intrigued you...and there you are! You climb carefully out of the time machine. You look around. Whom and what do you see? What do you hear? What are people doing? What confuses you about your new surroundings? Remember as many details as you can, so that you can share your observations when you return to the present...which is NOW !

Step 4:Have students quickly jot down notes and sketches about the places and times they envisioned. From these notes and sketches, lead the kids in writing short fiction pieces incorporating these historical fiction elements:

  • Characters:All characters must behave in realistic ways.
  • Problem:The characters are involved in a dilemma that is realistic for that period.
  • Description:Places and events are vividly described.
  • Setting:The setting is a definite time in history and a very real place.
  • Plot:Real events are mixed with fictional happenings. The plot makes sense and ends with a logical solution.
  • Dialogue:The characters' words reflect what people knew and thought about in those times.

Polish and share aloud, and don't forget to paint postcards of these time-traveling adventures! Writing historical fiction is a creative alternative to non fiction writing. You might also be interested in these creative informational report activities. 

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