Talk for Writing

What is Talk for Writing?

Talk for Writing was developed by the educational trainer, writer and author Pie Corbett. It is fun and creative, whilst also being a great approach to develop future writers. We use the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach at Pembury to support children’s early literacy skills, and help them develop:

  • A range of vocabulary
  • Knowledge of story structures
  • Use of their imaginations and experiences to create stories
  • Enjoyment in sharing stories together

Sharing Stories

Talk for Writing starts with enjoying and sharing stories. In the nursery, we place a strong emphasis on children and adults reading and sharing stories together.  We offer a wide range of literature including stories and information books. Through regular reading and sharing books together, we support children to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary, which they will be able to use throughout their education and their lives.

The 3 Stages

The Talk for Writing method enables children to imitate orally the language they need for a particular book, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version. Here are the 3 stages:

Imitation Stage

  • During the initial 'imitation' stage of Talk for Writing, children learn to tell a story off by heart using story maps and actions
  • They explore the same story for two weeks, giving them the opportunity to really learn the text.
  • We teach the children important story words and phrases to help them re-tell the story, including: ‘once upon a time’, ‘next’, ‘finally’, ‘the end’
  • The children retell the story with expression and actions
  • The children help create a story map to support their re-telling

A Story Map

Eric Carle’s The very Hungry Caterpillar

Innovation Stage

Children become so confident at retelling stories that they are encouraged to adapt them, this is the ‘innovation stage’. At the 'innovation' stage:

  • Children make the story their own.
  • They change the character or setting, for example.  

Story innovation of Jez Alborough’s Duck in the Truck

Invention Stage

Finally, at the 'invention’ stage, children are supported with story making – to tell their own stories using props, story maps, actions. The adults write down the children’s own stories and give the children opportunities to act them out.

Story invention using story stones

Scribed story invention