By Stephanie Yamkovenko, group manager of Khan Academy’s Digital Marketing Team.

Storytelling is an essential part of a child’s development. It allows them to explore their imagination, develop language skills, and improve their understanding of the world around them. However, not every parent has the confidence to write a story with their child. That’s where Khanmigo, an AI tutor from Khan Academy, comes in. In this blog post, we will look at the importance of story writing for children and how parents can use AI to write short stories with their children. We will also provide step-by-step instructions on how to use Khanmigo to piece together a short story using Khanmigo’s AI prompts as well as offer examples of stories created using Khanmigo. 

Why Story Writing is Important for Children

Storytelling is an ancient form of communication, and it has always been an essential part of human culture. It is not just a leisure activity but has a significant impact on children’s growth and development (Bietti, 2019). Writing stories can be an exciting and fun way for kids to explore their creativity, develop their language abilities, expand their vocabulary, practice critical thinking, and build their communication skills (National Research Council, 2015). Not only does writing stories improve a child’s writing skills, but it can also boost their reading comprehension, critical thinking, and self-expression.

Check out some of the benefits children gain from learning how to write short stories, backed by research:

  • Enhanced cognitive development: According to a study from Sook-Yi Kim (2014), storytelling can enhance children’s cognitive development, particularly in areas such as memory and sequencing events.
  • Improved language skills: Reports from the National Literacy Trust suggest that storytelling helps children develop a wider vocabulary and a better understanding of language structure.
  • Boosted creativity: Per research in the Journal of Creative Behavior, storytelling allows children to explore different narratives and perspectives, thereby fostering creativity.
  • Developed emotional intelligence: A study published in Reading & Writing Quarterly indicates that through storytelling, children can explore diverse emotions and situations, helping them better understand and express their feelings.

Prompts to Use for a Short Story with ChatGPT

To write a story using ChatGPT, follow these prompts:

  1. Start with a question: Think of an intriguing question that can capture the reader’s attention and lead them to the story’s plot. For example, “What would happen if gravity suddenly stopped working?”
  1. Choose a topic: Choose a topic that appeals to the child’s interests, such as robots, superheroes, or animals.
    1. (optional) Choose a setting (e.g., Mars, an elementary school, or a grocery store).  
    2. (optional) Choose a conflict (e.g., a misunderstanding, a lost object, or a personal fear that holds back the protagonist).
  1. Create your characters: Develop a protagonist, an antagonist, and secondary characters. Give the characters personalities, traits, and quirks that will make them stand out.
  1. Make a plot: Craft an exciting and engaging storyline that includes a beginning, a middle, and an end. Use the question and topic as a starting point. Decide how your protagonist will overcome their conflict, and develop the story from there. 
  1. Review and edit: After finishing the story, review and edit it to make sure it flows smoothly and makes sense.

Using Khanmigo for Story Writing

Khanmigo can do all of this for you via a question-and-answer format that will walk your child through the entire process of writing a story. Khan Academy released a new feature in 2023 called Khanmigo—an AI-powered tutor that assists children in their learning journey. Khanmigo offers a wide range of interactive student-focused activities that can encourage creativity and support writing development, such as creative writing prompts.

Khanmigo’s AI tutor can provide invaluable assistance to parents who want to encourage their child’s writing development. When children use Khanmigo for story writing, they receive personalized guidance and suggestions that help them improve their writing skills. 

Khanmigo will ask your child questions about the story they are writing together to draw out ideas for plot, characters, conflict, and more. Even if these concepts are unfamiliar to your child, Khanmigo will help explain each step along the way. For example, “Now, let’s start with the setting. Where does our mystery take place? A spooky old mansion? A bustling city? A quiet little town? Or somewhere else entirely? And what’s the weather like? Remember, the setting can add so much to the mood of our story!”

Khanmigo can serve as a writing partner, providing feedback and support throughout the writing journey. Children using Khanmigo will be able to practice their writing skills while developing their creativity, imagination, and critical thinking abilities.

Parents can use Khanmigo to monitor their children’s progress, provide feedback, and make sure that children are effectively developing their writing skills and creativity. Through Khanmigo, parents can keep track of their child’s writing progress, view their work, and set weekly writing goals.

How to Start Creating a Story with Khanmigo

Here is an example of how you may start an interaction to create a story with Khanmigo.

Khanmigo: “Would you like to write an awesome story together? Let’s do it.

  • You can choose a topic from the list, or suggest another idea.
  • If I use new words like ‘theme’ or ‘plot,’ just ask me to explain.
  • At any point, you can ask me to show you what we have so far.
  • Once we’re done, you can chat with some of the characters and admire the world we’ve built!”

…we don’t want to ruin the end of the story, but we hope this gives you a sense of the journey your child will go on while co-creating with Khanmigo. 

Raising Confident Story Tellers 

Encouraging your child to write stories is an excellent way to foster their creativity and imagination. By providing them with engaging prompts, you can help them develop their critical thinking and language skills while also having fun. 

With Khanmigo, parents can take their child’s creativity and writing to a whole new level. By leveraging Khan Academy’s AI tutor, parents can help their children practice their writing skills, expand their vocabulary, and develop their communication skills. Give your child a tool that will help shape their writing and help them grow into confident story writers.

Sources:

Bietti LM, Lucas M., Tilston O, 1 and Bangerter A, “Storytelling as Adaptive Collective Sensemaking” Top Cogn Sci. 2019 Oct; 11(4): 710–732.

National Research Council; Institute of Medicine; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success; LaRue Allen and Bridget B. Kelly, Editors, “Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation”, 2015

Kim, Sook-Yi, “The effects of storytelling and pretend play on cognitive processes, short-term and longterm narrative recall.” (1996). Doctoral Dissertations 1896 – February 2014. 5243. https://scholarworks.umass.edu/dissertations_1/5243 

Best. E, “Playful storytelling: The role of interactive audio in building children’s literacy skills and engagement”, National Literacy Trust, June 2021

Angus Fletcher, Patricia Enciso, Mike Benveniste, Narrative creativity training: A new method for increasing resilience in elementary students, Journal of Creativity, Volume 33, Issue 3, December 2023, 100061

Catherine Z. Wright & Sandra Dunsmuir (2019) The Effect of Storytelling at School on Children’s Oral and Written Language Abilities and Self-Perception, Reading & Writing Quarterly, 35:2, 137-153, DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2018.1521757

Stephanie Yamkovenko

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