One of the ways I solve this especially at the beginning of the year is to have them start with something abstract like a squiggle line or dots. This allows them to free up their mind and begin to create a doodle. It is always amazing to see their light bulbs go off when the all of the sudden they see something in their doodle.
Another way to get them writing is to use stickers. I place a large tub of tons of stickers in my writing. I always ask for a variety of stickers throughout the year. It is great to add seasonal ones to spark interest. I have the students pick one sticker from a smaller container. They then add it to the center of their page. They create their Sticker-ation around it. The story really stems quickly from there.
Above is the sheet my students use to create their stories. I usually will lay out stickers for them to choose from. If I put the whole tub out it ends up in a crazy mess. I just make sure that I add stickers that are related to what we have been studying. It just helps them generate ideas faster.
Here is an example of one that my daughter did this summer!
The bunny was her sticker. She is quite a little artist:)
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