Story Starters is a video resource aimed at engaging boys and inspiring them to write. It has been developed for boys in years 5 to 8, using boys of that age to help create the material. Its main purpose is to kick-start boys’ engagement with writing and be part of a range of tools teachers use to reduce the number of boys who are disengaged or not achieving to their potential in writing.
The opening sentences from the role models were taken to schools in Wellington, with groups of boys in years 5 to 8 developing them into stories. The boys provided a huge range of creative, descriptive, inventive and funny ideas, which a scriptwriter took and crafted into eight stories. These stories were developed into fast-paced, modern and entertaining animated videos.
Story Starters and inspiration videos
There are eight story starter animations. There are two versions for each animation: “What happens next?” animated videos, and Complete Story animated videos. Accompanying each animation is an "inspiration" video where the kiwi role-model who inspired the video talks about why they like writing and how they use it in their work. Accompanying each animation is an "inspiration" video where the kiwi role-model who inspired the video talks about why they like writing and how they use it in their work. They also read their story starter opening sentence.
"Sean was the biggest kid on the street. I'm talking huge, as big as a bus. He actually lifted a bus once with his bare hands. Sean ruled the neighbourhood. He was kind of a big deal. That was until Big Steve, an even bigger kid, moved in next door..."
“Everybody stood frozen in shock. Some gasped, others squealed; a teacher fainted. William flipped up the secret panel on the arm of his wheelchair and yelled, “Out of my way, I’m coming through!”
“Pua cast his line from the dinghy and it snagged straight away. Uncle tried to help him reel it in but it wouldn’t budge. Suddenly the skies turned grey, the sea got choppy and a giant pirate ship bubbled up from the depths of the ocean, dwarfing uncle’s dinghy.”
“Every weekend there was one job Hemi hated doing: mowing the lawns. He’d much rather be building his latest robot invention in the shed. That was it! What if Hemi could build a robot to mow the lawns?”
“With a squelching slimy splat, green blobs of interplanetary space-snot smothered the cockpit of Captain Taniwha’s rocket ship—he was blinded, and even worse, on a high speed collision course with Earth…”
“Sam’s sister wasn’t going to believe that a huge toilet monster with three blood sucking tentacles took her smartphone. So Sam bravely went under the house and into the stinky sewerage pipe jungle.”
“Nico wakes up in hospital, both legs and both arms in plaster, his skateboard broken in two, and he doesn’t know why… the only thing he can remember is walking up a massive hill with his skateboard and his dog.”
“A giant zombie pterodactyl has taken a liking to roost on the rugby goal posts on the eve of the biggest match of the season. It’s up to team captain Rangi and his prop forwards to get rid of the giant beast.”
Extra inspiration videos
Well-known male role models from around New Zealand talking about writing and sharing the opening of an exciting story.
James Rolleston - Actor
James shares how writing helps him in his life as an actor, and shares the first sentence to a story...
“A bright light blinded Nico and he struggled to open his eyes. Confused, he slowly looked down and saw his arms and legs covered in white plaster casts. He started to remember, a massive hill, his skateboard, a rolling ball with a dog in hot pursuit, and then being airborne.”
John Schwalger - Hurricanes’ rugby player
John shares how writing helps him in his life as a Hurricanes rugby player and shares the first sentence to a story…
"A tribe of smelly earthy wormy monsters, want to add the rugby field to their territory. But the field they want belongs to the number one team in the world; it's theirs. It's been theirs for over 125 years. The team need to train on it for good luck, before the biggest match of their careers—plus it's tradition! So the mighty captain challenges the smelly earthy monsters king to a one on one duel for supremacy, in a winners take all battle."
Nua Finau - TV presenter
Nua shares how writing helps him in his life as a TV and radio host and shares the first sentence to a story...
“Nobody saw the secret camera flying above Hemi and his dad in their backyard, they were too busy banging away, when all of a sudden, “brrr, bee, whrrr, ffizzzzz, boom, ka ba boom boom ka” Hemi and his dad couldn’t believe it “You can’t tell anyone about this, okay” Hemi nodded as the secret camera flew away….!”
Mike McRoberts, TV journalist
Mike shares how writing helps him in his life as a TV journalist and shares the first sentence to a story...
“This time there’d be no denying it. Sam was going to prove a monster was lurking in their toilet. But as he waited with his sister’s smartphone he felt so sleepy, he could feel himself drifting off… that was until the tentacle grabbed him.”
How to use these videos in class
The videos of the role models could be shown to the boys and used as a catalyst for planning and writing stories. Viewing the role model’s videos is also a great starting point for talking about, and writing for different purposes.
Teacher Support Materials
These Teacher Support Materials provides an introduction to Story Starters, how they work to help inspire boys writing, and practical examples of how to use the resource in the classroom. There is also background information on how to help boys learn, including links to relevant research in this area.