Wednesday, July 24, 2024
The Story Machine

The Story Machine

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by Tom McLaughlin

Elliott is a boy who likes to find things and, one day, he stumbles across a machine. At first, he can’t work out what the machine is for – it doesn’t beep or buzz like all his other machines and it doesn’t have an ON/OFF button. Then, quite by accident, Elliott makes the machine work. The machine makes letters!

Elliott thinks it must be a story machine but, sadly, Elliott isn’t very good at letters and words. How can he make magical stories without them? But, wait, some of the letters look like pictures. Elliott is good at pictures and, as he discovers, pictures make stories.

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Write your own story with the title ‘The Story Machine’. How will the machine be similar / different in your story?
  • Take the first two sentences in the story (‘Meet Elliott. Elliott was a boy who loved to find things…’) and use this as the starting point for your own stories.
  • Retell the story from Elliott’s point of view.
  • Create some speech / thought bubbles for Elliott throughout the story.
  • Elliott ‘wasn’t very good at letters’. Think of some mnemonics that can help Elliott to remember how to spell different words.
  • Look at the pictures that Elliott creates and use them to tell a story.
  • Write a sequel to this story. What could Elliott discover next? Does he have any other wonderful talents?


  • Carry out a survey of the different types of technology that your friends and family own and use.


  • If you were going to type a sentence / story today, what would you use? How does this compare with a typewriter?
  • Find out about different types of keyboard layout. What is the QWERTY layout and who created it?
  • Create a timeline that shows the history of technology and the different ways that people have recorded text on paper and on screens.
  • Use word processing, publishing and art software to create a picture using letters and words. How do the different types of software compare? Which is easier to use? Why?
  • Watch this book trailer and then try to create your own:

Design Technology

  • Design a machine that can create stories… or bring them to life. What materials will it be made from? What different parts will it need? How will it be constructed? How will it be used?
  • Find out how a typewriter works. Why don’t they have on / off buttons? Why don’t they ‘bleep’ or ‘buzz’?


  • Look for examples of text art. Can you create your own?
  • Elliott hangs his story pictures on the wall. Can you create a gallery of your own art work?

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