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Sentient candies who revolt against their Maker. The real reason the Titanic sank -- (did somebody say zombies)? What do these have in common? Why, the makings of a great story, of course. 

If you're studying literary elements and techniques with your kids, reading short stories can provide a clear view of the whole "narrative arc" in a more accessible, less lengthy format.

Supplement your study with the following classic short stories. Click on the Google doc below to read the stories, fill out plot diagrams, and answer comprehension and analysis questions for each. The document also contains links to tutorials on plot, conflict, flashbacks, and foreshadowing. 

Writing stories can also get kids thinking about what makes a good plot, an interesting conflict, and a satisfying resolution.

Writing prompts can be a good way to get the creative juices flowing. We've used some of the ones listed here. For more ideas, head over to StoryToolz. The site has ideas for conflicts, (such as rivalry, temptation, revenge, ambition, etc.), and a random title generator that suggests all kinds of tantalizing possibilities. For example: 

  • On the Far Side of the Intersection
  • Shadows of Symmetries
  • Distant Gateway
  • All Things Invisible

Nevermind if you or your kids don't know what any of the titles mean; they can work that out as they're coming up with intriguing storylines, tension-building conflicts, and awesome endings.

Here is another short story unit for studying additional literary elements. The unit includes comprehension questions and links to text and audio versions of the stories: 

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