I use a pack of index cards with the name of an object or a photograph on them to stimulate pupils' ideas for writing stories. It's an alternative to giving them a title or opening sentence and is especially useful for able writers who need something different.
I try to vary the the objects and photographs between the mundane and the exotic. I have about 150 cards and items include a wristwatch with a cracked glass, a pair of cheap sunglasses, a silk tie with a floral pattern, a penknife, a mutilated class photograph, a tin of brown shoe polish, a library card and a notebook filled with code. Each student chooses two or three cards at random. Each chosen item must then play a significant part in the story they write.
Another way of using this pack is to give pupils random cards while they are writing their story: the idea being to introduce that item into the story as soon as possible.
This has roused the jaded interest of many a class and has led to stories from the horribly contrived to the subtle and clever.
Gareth Evans, teacher, diocese of Victoria Nyanza in Isamilo School, Mwanza, Tanzania