Teachers, this can be a mentor text resource for a flash fiction writing unit in secondary grades. *Note: This book has basic swearing in it so teachers should preview any stories selected. The free printable has picture only prompts, and may be used in elementary and secondary classrooms. Many of the stories are suitable for all ages. Teachers could read them aloud or project with a document camera for students to read invidiual pieces. The pictures are very engaging and will help students think of additional stories. Just take a look!
The pictures in the book could be used as writing prompts themselves.
Click on the next blue link for your free instant PDF download picture writing prompts.
One piece in the eBook is about how dogs and humans look more and more alike over time. In another, a boy reads a Babar book to a real elephant! In “Complaints,” a bird has a to-do list including finding mud, string, and twigs. Blending animal habits and “people talk,” Cohen always has a surprise ending for the reader.
Dr. Theodore Jerome Cohen begins with a photo to inspire his flash fiction writing, as previously mentioned on this blog in an interview with him. Then, he thinks. And often the pictures are inspired by actual events in history or current news. Cohen uses both footnotes and endnotes, and this last section in his books are as entertaining and interesting as the stories. For instance, in Flash Fiction for Animal Lovers, the writing piece “Valor” (about a bomb-sniffing dog) has the following footnote.
[iii] Valor U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, carry Drak, an injured bomb-tracking dog, to an awaiting helicopter at Forward Operating Base Jackson, Afghanistan, on September 8, 2011. Both Drak and his handler, Sergeant Kenneth A. Fischer, were flown out of the country for surgery and recovery. Eventually, in line with military custom, Fischer will adopt
Secondary students might apprentice themselves to Cohen’s writing and find pictures that relate to historical or current events. Endnotes might be, as Cohen uses, a YouTube video, website, or nonfiction article. Of course, the stories with talking animals are mostly fiction.
Picture prompts selected by the writer provide an opportunity for creative writing practice. The free printable may be used as quick writes, writing prompts for longer pieces, morning warm-ups, or as part of a flash fiction writing lesson. There are more flash fiction freebies for teachers on this site (see information below).
The flash fiction letter-sized teaching posters could be used under a document camera for a whole class or writing group discussion. They alternately could be used on a bulletin board display for the classroom.
In general, when writing a short or flash fiction story, the focus is on character and mood. Importantly, however, the overriding question facing the writer is: does something significant change in the story?