Working with middle school writers at our library this summer, I’ve found a few storytelling tools that are too awesome not to share.

Now, I’m the first to admit that creative writing isn’t something I spend much time on during my regular English 9 and English 11 classes, so it’s been a fun challenge to try something new. Here are a few things that are working for my kids.

1. Eyebombing
A sheet of self-adhesive googly eyes and the cameras on their phones led to a fun afternoon of writing for my kids as they turned inanimate objects into the protagonists of their stories. If you didn’t know, eyebombing is a thing.

I didn’t know any of this until I saw a slide deck built by Lisa Highfill, one of my former Pleasanton Unified co-workers. She shares her presentation here and gives inspiration credit to Adam Randall, another colleague who turned the world’s cutest graffiti into a writing prompt for his elementary students. The middle schoolers were completely into it, too.

2. Storytelling Dice
Whenever a kid is stumped for inspiration, I break out the free story cubes from These are probably most effective with a younger audience, but my tweens have been surprisingly game. Maybe because it’s summer? (Tip: Print these on card stock to make them last longer and have the kids build them.)



3. Paintchip Storytelling
You might recall that I use paintchips from the home improvement store for our poetry stations, but I decided to use those same chips this summer for longer stories. Each student selects a paintchip and then must incorporate all four paint names somewhere in their story. I asked my kids to highlight/bold the paint names in their stories, which makes it easier when my old eyes read their work. 


What other creative writing resources do you use with your students? Leave an idea or link below to any free item that’ll help creative writing teachers – including me – keep their students inspired and productive.

Teach on, everyone!

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Yay! What great ideas!

    I knew about the story cubes. I actually have a few different versions, but the googly eyes and paint strips? Brilliant! Now, where to find paint strips written in English :p

    In the meantime, I’m definitely trying the googly eyes ones!

    Thanks for the tips!


  2. Glad to hear this, Carolyn! I always love spreading great ideas. 😀


  3. Thanks for these ideas! I especially love the google eyes one! I have used the paintchips in the past (Grade 6 ELA), but for vivid verbs. I put a ‘boring’ one on the top (ex. eat) and they have to write the vivid versions of it. (devour, gorge, nibble). This opens up a conversation about how to make their own writing more descriptive by being aware that you can paint a picture with just one simple word.


  4. Fun stuff, DeeDee! Hope you’re set for a great 19-20. 🙂


  5. First of all, I love your site and youtube channel. I teach English as a foreign language, teaching teens in my country (the Netherlands). I was about to look for a career change after 25 years of teaching English because I became …… bored. Unfortunately, we don’t have sites….. like yours in the Netherlands (and believe me I’ve searched). Your videos etc have helped me to find my passion back as an English teacher.

    These ideas above are wonderful as well. As a passionate hobby photographer, I came up with the idea (this holiday!) of using my pictures to start them off with storytelling. I’m still ‘writing out’ a concept plan and am going to give it a go after the holidays (to 16 year olds).


  6. Congratulations, Els, on finding a way to bridge your two passions! I think picture prompts for writing are a great idea. Have you seen the work of fellow teacher Luke Neff? He has some genius prompt ideas, too, that might fuel your fire: Happy creating! 🙂


  7. Love it! Thank you for the link. Thank you!


  8. Happy to help! 🙂


  9. These are some great ideas! Teaching creativity techniques is always difficult – thank you for posting this!


  10. Glad you found the blog, Jazmin. Welcome! 🙂


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fun stuff, middle school, Uncategorized, writing


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