Go on a winter adventure

The child, wolf and cat with wings ride a sleigh in a wintery, snowy mountain scene

Created by Viviane Schwarz

Let's make up some wintery stories

There are many ways to make up a story. Some people like to work them out carefully, and others like to make them up as they tell them.

You can tell a story as a performance – speak it, sing it, dance it, make it a play or a movie. You can write it down, or tell it in pictures, or use both words and pictures together.

The main thing is to notice when you find a really good piece of a story – maybe the beginning, maybe the end, or a bit in the middle. You will recognise it, because when you ask yourself if you want to know what happened before, or what happens next, you will feel: Yes, I really want to know that!

Then you will discover and invent the rest.

You can make things up by yourself. You can do it with someone else – it’s like playing a game where everyone wins a story.

Here are some friends, ready to help you with ideas.

Illustration of a child and a wolf waving hello

For this activity, you will need some paper, scissors, and something to draw with.

The paper can be blank sheets, but it’s also fun to recycle. That way you might get to work with different colours! Try drawing on used envelopes or even card from a box.

You can start a story by doodling characters.

Instructions on how to draw the child and the wolf. Start with the outlines of the head and the body, add some legs and arms and then details like a tail, some eyes, or even some ears.

Do you want to make up your own characters? Try it!

Maybe you’re great at drawing, but don’t worry if you’re not. Just doodle and see what happens. Even professional artists often start with doodles!

The main thing is that when you look at your drawing, you have an idea of who the character is, and that you can imagine how they might feel, what they might enjoy doing, what might make them angry - you don’t have to know that before you start drawing, it’s fun to decide it as you go along.

If you draw your characters on paper, you can cut them out and send them on adventures.

Any way of drawing is good!

Here’s a way to help you if you aren’t sure how to start, or if you want to surprise yourself.

You can use any kind of paper and any kind of pen or pencil.

A hand draws a circle in thick crayon

First, draw some shapes on paper.

Don't make them much bigger than your hand

6 shapes over a page, including a circle, triangle, star and three other abstract shapes

They can be simple shapes, like a circle, a triangle, a star.

They can be angry scribbles, dreamy blobs, or something odd you drew with your eyes closed.
Make sure you only draw on one side of the paper so you can cut your creations out later!

6 shapes with eyes drawn on them

Do the shapes remind you of anything?

Try looking at them upside down and from all sides.
It's a bit like looking for animals and people in clouds...
If you aren't sure, draw dots for eyes in some shapes, and look again.

A dragon-like creature with a top hat, smart jacket. The creature is sticking its tongue out

Once you see what character a shape could turn into, add the face.

Do they look happy or angry or scared? Do they look sneaky, dreamy or proud?
Keep doodling.

Someone has drawn a silly reindeer with it's tongue hanging between it's lips

Maybe there are some amazing creatures to be discovered!

Do you see beaks, wings, tails, legs? Will you add fur, teeth, antlers?
Sometimes you hardly need to add anything. Or you might want to draw lots of scales, hair or many, many legs...

The star has become a wobbly business person with a briefcase, standing on one leg

Maybe there are some people hiding in your shapes.

Will you give them hair? What clothes could they wear? How about hats, and shoes? Are they carrying anything? Maybe you can see a bicycle or a suitcase, a sword or a crown that's almost there...

Scissors cut around the shapes

Soon, you will have many characters!

Cut them out.

Do you want to give them names?

Make up as many characters as you like, and make them as neat or scribbly as you want.

Any character that you can think of, and any character that you might draw by accident or on purpose could be in a story, because stories are for everyone, and everyone has a story.

'That flame shape is a cat with wings'

Now it’s time to find your stories.

Stories happen when something happens to a character, or when they decide to do something.

They happen when characters meet - you have lots of characters that could meet, so you have lots of stories that can happen! Let’s see what happens when some of your characters decide to go on an adventure.

Your characters can travel any way you want them to! Maybe they just want to run or fly off now.

Here is a sledge you can make for them to travel in, if you want.

Choose some of your paper characters to send them on an adventurous journey around your home.

Where will they go? What will happen?

Will they go to the dangerous sofa mountains, the beautiful bed islands or somewhere else entirely?

Who will they meet there?

Tell the story.

Do you want to make a place that your characters can discover?

How about a snowy forest? Learn how make a wintery place at home.

A child, wolf and cat with wings play with a wintery scene

Create your own wintery place

Do you want to make a place that your characters can discover? How about a snowy forest?

A cut-out figure placed beneath an orange

Create a miniature adventure

Create an illustrated adventure story, exploring what it would be like to be really small.

Various small illustrations, a person playing a saxophone, a scubadiver sitting at a desk, an alien, a UFO, a castle, a wicth on a broomstick

Create an imaginary school

Dream up ideas and write a story about an imaginary school. It could be a fantastical place: a school in a castle, one on another planet, one that bounces or disappears or that floats in a bubble.

The tiger who came to tea. Illustration. The tiger is standing in a kitchen, a young girl hugs his neck

Create a talking animal

Find ideas and inspiration to create animal characters for your very own stories.

Photograph portrait of Vivian Schwarz inside an illustrated picture frame. To the right of the picture frame are illustrations of pencils, painbrushes, a pencil sharpener with shavings, paint palettes and an eraser. These are on a purple backgroud.

Interview with Viviane Schwarz

Hear from Viviane Schwarz, author-illustrator of How to be on the Moon, about how she dreams up new ideas and develops characters.

Paper-cut out illustration of Mulan riding on a horse and a little girl looking up at her

Go deeper: Journeys in children's books

One of the most wonderful things about books is their ability to transport us to different worlds, times and places. But why are journeys so important to stories?

John Tenniel's illustration of the Cheshire Cat, disappearing into the tree he is sat in

Go deeper: Talking animals in children's books

Have you ever had tea with a tiger, or sat next to a talking toad on a train? Have you ever wondered why animals are so popular in children’s stories? Explore animal characters from Aesop’s fables to War Horse.

Quentin Blake's illustrtaion of Roald Dahl's BFG. The BFG is sitting on a rock and holding Sophie up in his hand.

Go deeper: Size and scale in children's books

From miniature people, to towering giants, playing with size and scale add a fun dimension to children’s books!