My husband is a master at taking a picture book that he has read multiple times in a row and changing the words to make it very interesting and highly entertaining. There will be times when he is reading to the kids and I am in the room that I will ask him if that is what the book really said because he has a way of making it all sound so natural. Occasionally when I am in the right mood, I find that I can come in a close second. Last night the kids wanted me to read a few picture books and so I started by changing the words in the first book. Much to my surprise, one of the things I changed actually turned out to be what actually happened! The surprised look on all of our faces just added to the fun.
The next book they had was a picture book with no words. That was great fun as it gave me a free license to make up anything about the characters that I wanted to and they couldn't yell at me that that was not how the book went.
Finally we read an easy reader book about George Washington. By now everyone was in the mood and we were having great fun adding details to the story to make it quite interesting. It was about this time that I got to thinking that this is a great way to have a beginning creative writing lesson. For young writers it may be too much for them to come up with and write their own story from scratch, but with a little practice, they can take an already written story and add new and interesting details to change the story around.
As I was getting ready to type up this post, my eight year old son sat down on the couch and started "rereading" the George Washington book that we had read last night - changing, almost exactly, all the details that we had changed last night. I guess the "lesson" made quite an impression on him. On other occasions, when they have read to their younger siblings, they have tried to do this on their own. I think it's a great way to teach creative writing without requiring the mechanics of actual writing. If you've never tried this with your younger children, pick out any picture book and give it a try. With some creative effort on your part, your kids will be off and running and having fun making up their own versions of stories.