Emotions in Storytelling for Creative Writing in Primary School


So far, we have discussed themes in essays. We have also talked about the nature of conflicts and how to use them to generate plots. Once your child has understood both aspects, he needs to decide on the dominant emotion or emotions of the essay. What is this?


Remember the cartoon “Inside Out”, where the main character is controlled by five emotions? Just like the main character, we experience many emotions, far more then the five listed in the movie. However, there are a few that we commonly experience more often – including happiness, sadness, fear, excitement and anger.


Including emotions into an essay is very important. We are all emotional creatures; we watch movies, read books and listen to stories because we want to feel fear, joy or excitement. We watch horror movies to get frightened, comedies to feel joy, Korean drama series to cry and action movies to feel thrills. Hence, for your child to write better stories, he needs to convey these feelings very well.

How can we incorporate them into a child’s essay? We start by looking at the theme, we can easily figure out what emotion or emotions would be predominant in the essay. Some essays will only have one while others will feature a changes of emotion. For instance, an essay that has the theme of “surprise” will probably have emotions of fear and excitement. On the other hand, an essay that has the theme of “disappointment” will have emotions of happy, leading to sad.

Thus, you need to get your child to first figure out what emotion are present. From here, your child will remember to include words and phrases that describe them, thus making their essay richer while demonstrating the use of appropriate vocabulary. How do we include them? A useful strategy is the IDEA technique, which we shall introduce in the next few tips.

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This is Part 4 of a 12 Part series. To go back to the index, please click here.

Creating Conflicts for Creative Writing in Primary School

For our third tip, we are going to concentrate on writing a good story. This is important because good stories score well for content. How can we create great stories? The key to writing great stories is to create a strong “problem” or “conflict” so that the intense reaction of the main character may be explored before it is resolved as part of the story. In other words, creating conflicts is key to writing an excellent story.

Creating Conflicts

In classical Literature, experts have divided conflicts into different types. One common conflict type is “Man vs. Man”. It basically means that the conflict arises because two (or more) people want different things. In the case of of an essay with the theme of “the secret”, the conflict could be based on how one person has discovered another person’s secret and wants to reveal it to other people. Thus, this creates an interesting conflict in which the main character(s) in the story have to try to stop this person.

Yet another type of conflict is “Man vs. Self”. In this case, the main character has to overcome a personal, usually inner, struggle. For example, if the main character keeps the secret, somebody might be harmed. However, revealing the secret will cause him pain in some form. Thus, the main character struggles with himself whether to keep the secret or not.

There are other types of conflicts. However, we will not go into details as they tend to be more difficult to construct a story around these conflicts due to the lack of time in an exam situation. If you are interested, you can go here for a simple and concise explanation of creating conflicts.

Creating Conflicts

Four Types of Conflict

In the meantime, remember to read keeping checking our blog for more advice on writing. Also, remember to ‘like’ our FB page for more news and other important information.

This is Part 3 of a 12 Part series. To go back to the index, please click here.

Creative Writing for Primary School: Focus on the Theme

Focus on Theme

In any piece of writing, we need to have a theme and ensure that we focus on the theme closely. Therefore, for this post, we are going to delve into the topic of the themes of the PSLE continuous writing section, and how we can focus on the theme to write better.

A bit of background first. In the old syllabus, the continuous writing question focuses on topics. However, in the new continuous writing format for PSLE, the question is based on a theme rather than a narrower topic. Hence, it is important to have an undivided focus on the theme throughout the essay.

Focus on the Theme

How can we achieve this? Let us look at the 2016 PSLE as an example. The theme for continuous writing is “the secret”. Firstly, your child needs to understand that a secret means something which is kept hidden from one or more persons. The essay therefore needs to focus on this – which character or characters are kept in the dark.

As the story progresses, the focus on the theme must always be kept in mind. Think about how the theme affects the main characters. Also, think about whether the premise changes at the end of the story. For example, in the case of “the secret”, the end result could be that the secret is still kept or that it is finally revealed. We will explore more about creating conflicts and developing plots latter in our series.

To ensure that your child does not go out of theme, ask your child to check at the end of each paragraph if it still focuses around the theme. By doing so, you can be assured that there is focus on the theme.

Remember, keeping your child’s writing with the theme in mind is key to scoring good marks. No matter how good your child’s language is, going out of theme is going to have a big impact on his marks.

Remember to read keeping checking our blog for more advice on writing. Also, remember to ‘like’ our FB page for more news and other important information.

In our next blog, we will be talking about how to create conflicts, develop plots as well as improve their writing. Look out for it!

Focus on the theme

Follow One Course Until Successful

Marking Rubrics for Creative Writing in Primary School

Marking Rubrics

A couple of months ago, we posted a set of 12 Creative Writing Tips. However, they were edited for a Facebook audience and some information was left out. We are pleased to present the full set for your reading pleasure as requested by some parents.

We hope that with this full set, you’ll be able to understand the requirements of the continuous writing component of Paper 1, and help your child understand how to tweak his writing to ensure the requirements are met. With these tips, we are confident that your child will be able to improve on his creative writing. At the same time, please check our webpage every now and then for more information and tips. If you prefer frequent and bite-size tips, do like our Facebook Page. Without further ado, let’s talk about the marking rubrics.

Teachers generally divided the marking rubrics into two sections – content and language. We know that children can write other genres for the continuous writing component, we will only be concentrating on Narrative genre as Expository writing requires a rather different style.

Marking Rubrics

For a child to score well in content, their essay must be:

  1. clearly focused on the theme
  2. based on at least one of the given pictures
  3. succinct, impactful and relevant
  4. well organised
  5. well developed

For a child to score well in language, their essay must:

  1. use correctly a variety of sentence structures
  2. demonstrate the correct use of grammar, including tenses
  3. use correct spelling
  4. use appropriate punctuation
  5. employ an apt and effective choice of vocabulary

In the tips found below, I will go through how to improve the content, as well as how to improve the language.

  1. Focus on the theme
  2. Creating conflicts
  3. Controlling your emotions
  4. (I)nner Sensations
  5. (D)ialogue
  6. (E)motional Expressions
  7. (A)ctions
  8. Stetching the Tension
  9. A Perfect ending?
  10. Sentence variety
  11. Types of sentences
  12. Understanding your teacher’s marking

How to improve your child’s vocabulary: Part Two

In the second part of the article, we are going to explain some other knowledge your child needs to be familiar with.

In our previous article on vocabulary, we discussed how many different pieces of knowledge your child needs to know to master a word. We talked about the essentials like how the child needs to know the definition, spelling, pronunciation and part of speech. Then we extend this by explaining how understanding word families and synonyms can also help in building up his vocabulary. Let us now continue on.

Read More…

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s contribution to English

This post is a little special. Instead of talking about the English language or technology in education, I am going to talk about Lee Kuan Yew.

It is not a tribute because I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of the hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, that speak glowingly of his achievements. That is something that most Singaporeans recognise. His immense drive and vision have brought Singapore to where it is now. Let us not trivialise his achievement.

Instead, what I am going to talk about is his contribution to how English has thrived in Singapore. Read More…

What is STELLAR?

This programme is designed specifically for Singapore children by Singapore teachers.

STELLAR stands for Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading. It was rolled out in 2006 and after nine years, all the primary schools use for all levels. STELLAR is an instructional programme and not a syllabus, and therefore it offers materials and strategies rather than an outline of teaching outcomes. As a result, some parents complain that it seems unstructured. Read More…

How to improve your child’s vocabulary: Part One

Have you ever instructed your child to learn a new word and when you test him a few days later, it has mysteriously vanished from his memory?

The reason for this is that many children do not use strategies for vocabulary development. In fact, the meaning of the word is just one of the many pieces of knowledge that an English language learner needs to store in his vocabulary bank. On top of this, there are other components to learn to use English fluently in reading and writing, in different contexts.

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The classical way to ace your writing

There are many schools of thought on how to write a great story. Indeed, it is hard to pinpoint what makes some books become classics or best sellers while some books end up out of print and forgotten.

Despite what I just wrote, there are certainly some elements that are critical to what is considered good writing. In this post, I am going to focus on classical Greek theatre and discuss how Greek classics can help modern writers, like our children, improve on their plots and storytelling.

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Are handhelds good for your child?

Nowadays, when you go outside, you will see a lot of children glued to a tablet or smartphone (usually an iPad or iPhone). They are watching it while eating their meals or even while walking. This generation is very different from when we were children. While these handheld devices can hold the focus of our children, let us consider if they can help our children’s learning.

Many people use tablets as educational tools, from national schools such as Crescent Girls Schools to private enrichment centres such as RG Channel Future School (yes, that is us). Many parents also use handhelds devices to entertain and educate their children. They download educational apps or allow their children to watch educational videos. If children ask parents questions they cannot answer, they also use the internet for research or encourage their children to look it up.

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