Emotions through Inner Thoughts for Creative Writing in Primary School

In my previous blog post, I touched on creating dialogue as a way to help characters express emotions. For this post, I am going touch on using inner thoughts to display emotions. This is the third part of the IDEA method and ‘E’ stands for emotional expressions.  The key to this is the simple rule of “show, not tell”. Do not write phrases like “he was angry” or “she was sad”. Use his thoughts to show his emotions.

Bad example:

James was upset that the bully had ruined his project.

Good example:

The memory of Shawn stepping on his project kept replaying in his mind. Disappointment, and a sense of being useless, overcame him. How could someone be so nasty?

Just like the previous methods, your child needs to know how to develop these inner thoughts through practice. You can ask your child to develop inner thoughts for important emotions like anger, happiness, sadness, fear and excitement so that he can use can use them in his essay.

Ultimately, for a story to be well developed, it is important for the main characters to display emotions. At the same time, it is also important for your child to include these emotions as they can help with showcasing your child’s strong language skills. The IDEA method is a great way to include emotions into your child’s writing.

In the next blog, I will move on to the next technique. To go back to the index to access the earlier materials, please click here

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Creating Dialogue for Creative Writing in Primary School


In my previous blog, I had talked about the IDEA technique. To recap, the IDEA technique a way for students to write about their character’s emotions. This will help to develop their story and make their characters more engaging. Most importantly, it will add emotional depth to you child’s story so that he can score well in story development. I have gone through Inner Sensations, the “I” part of the IDEA technique in the previous blog. Now, let us move into the “D” part – which stands for Dialogue. 

Many people also express their emotions via dialogue and using it is one way of ensuring sentence variation within a story as well. Of course, you need to ensure your child knows his punctuation well before he starts building a conversation into his writing. If you are unsure about the appropriate punctuation for dialogue, do check a grammar resource.

Bad example

James was upset that the bully had ruined his project.

Good example

“Why me?” James sniffed. “Goodbye,” he whispered softly, as if his project could hear him

Can you see the difference by adding dialogue? However, it is also important to ensure grammar accuracy. So do ensure he knows his punctuation rules. At the same time, do remind him not to overdo dialogue. It should not dominate the story.

In the next blog, I will move on to the next technique. To go back to the index to access the earlier materials, please click here.

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Describing Inner Sensations for Creative Writing in Primary School

inner sensations

How can your child show the character’s emotions appropriately in an essay after he has decided what emotion to express? I would recommend this simple method – the IDEA technique. While I am going to focus on the “I” part, I thought I better give a simple introduction to the IDEA technique. “I” stands for Inner Sensations, which is all about the body’s physical reaction to an emotion. “D” means Dialogue which is what the character(s) say in response to an emotion. “E” represents Emotional Expressions, which the thoughts of a character when he feels emotions. Finally, “A” is for Actions, which is what the character does to show his emotions. You can use just one technique or combine the technique to show the character’s emotions.

Let’s move on to the first technique, “I”, which stands for Inner Sensations. This technique includes visceral sensations (e.g. lungs, heart, stomach, throat) and the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste). By showing appropriate bodily response of a character, your child can effectively convey the character’s emotions and response to the conflict, thus developing the story. At the same time, it also helps your child demonstrate apt and effective vocabulary.

inner sensations

Bad example

James was upset that the bully had ruined his project.

Good example

The sight of its broken wheels made James’ heart ache. Tears burned at the back of his eyes. Soon, his vision blurred. He felt so tired.

Practise this technique with your child by getting him to think of possible bodily response based on common emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, excitement and anger. You can list these expressions down and your child can use these expressions the next time he writes an essay.

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This is Part 5 of a 12 Part series. To go back to the index, please click here.

PSLE Listening Comprehension Examination

Listening Comprehension

Listening Comprehension Skills

With the PSLE Listening Comprehension Examination just around the corner, here are some tips to take note of:

#1 Glance through the questions before each passage is being read.

This allows you to get a rough idea of what the passage is going to be about and frames your mind to look out for whatever information is required.


#2 Look at the questions while the passage is being read to you.

A common mistake people make is to stare blankly into space while listening to what is being read. If you do this, there is a tendency for your mind to drift off and your thoughts to wander causing you to miss out on vital information. A good strategy is to look at the questions as the passage is being read. This helps your mind to focus better. You may circle the answer on the answer booklet during the first reading, as soon as the information is being read to you (otherwise you might forget what was being read all too soon.)

You may then choose to shade the OAS later during the second reading when you are sure that the answer you have selected is correct.

#3 Avoid dreaming when the passage is being read the second time.

Even if you are certain that you have chosen the correct answer after the first reading, always pay close attention to what is being read the second time. Think critically about what is being read and ask yourself, “Does what I have just heard answer this particular question?”


Listen with a CALM state of mind. If you feel nervous, always take deep breaths. Listen calmly to what is being read. When you panic, nothing you listen to will make sense so it is important to keep your nerves in check. Tell yourself, this is just another listening comprehension exam and if you do not get a perfect score, it’s okay. We all make mistakes. Just do your best and be happy with whatever your best is.

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

12 Tips to improve your child’s Creative Writing!

creative writing

A couple of months ago, we posted a set of creative writing tips together with our marketing partner, LearnSuperMart.  However, they were edited for a Facebook audience and some details had to be left out. Some parents have asked us for the version that has the full details. Hence, we are pleased to present the full set for your reading pleasure.

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.

Introduction to this Creative Writing series

The first three tips of this series will focus on helping your child prepare for writing. Before your child starts writing, it is important that he reads and understands the question before proceeding. He needs to brainstorm for ideas, ensuring that his story answers the question and engages the reader. As such, we will be discussing how your child can stick to the theme of the essay question and suggest different ways to generate ideas. Most important, we will be teaching how to give your child’s essay an overarching emotional tone that will help his essay stand out.

After that, we will focus on some techniques of writing – from writing about emotions to improving the climax and coming out with fantastic conclusions.  We are confident that these techniques will help your child develop his writing and help him score better in the next essay he writes.

Finally, we will a little technical and focus on how to improve your child’s language by focusing on varying sentences. As a bonus, we are also going to touch on the marking rubrics as well as common marking comments that may help you understand how your child’s teacher marks.

There is just one more thing we would like you to read before you forge ahead with this series. Please download the PSLE English syllabus. It will be most helpful to you to understand these tips. The English syllabus can be found here.

  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. Stretching the Tension
  9. A Perfect ending?
  10. Varying Sentences I
  11. Varying Sentences II
  12. Understanding your teacher’s marking

Without further ado, let us proceed to the series!