Using Alan Peat’s Science-Fiction Story Machine and Book Creator

I have been a fan of Alan Peat’s ideas and resources for a long time. I have been to a number of his training conferences too. He is someone I admire greatly in the world of education. Along with this, the Book Creator app is one of the apps that I use most often in the classroom and is always one I would recommend to teachers starting out on their journey with iPads.

A little while ago, I downloaded the Science-Fiction Story Machine App from Alan Peat. Since then I have been waiting for an ideal chance to use it in the classroom. That chance came this half-term as the Year 4 teachers I work with asked me to do some iPad-based literacy work with their classes. I decided to work on writing longer narratives over a number of weeks.

One of the most common problems (in my experience) that children face when beginning to write a narrative is getting going usually due to a lack of ideas coming immediately to mind. This is where the Science-Fiction Story Machine comes in. It generates engaging ideas for settings, openings, characters etc so the children have something to work with from the start. Book Creator provides a fantastic medium for the children to present their stories. Today’s session (the first of a few over the coming weeks) went something like this.

1. All the children had a whiteboard in pairs. We then generated ideas for the opening, main characters, setting and other characters using the Science-Fiction story machine. The app gives you three choices for each one from a vast bank of ideas. If you don’t want to use any of the three, you can reset it to get a different set of three ideas.

2. The children discussed in their pairs which of the ideas they wanted to use in their own stories and noted these on the whiteboard. They did this for each of the first four sections from the story machine.

3. Before I set them off to work on the opening of their stories on Book Creator, we had a brief class discussion about which of Alan Peat’s sentence types we could use in these stories and noted them down on the class board as an aide memoire.

4. The children had used Book Creator several times before so they set off to work confidently, producing excellent story openings. The finished stories I am sure will be excellent and presented in a very polished way due to the versatility of the Book Creator app.

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