Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Motivating Kids to Write Creatively

Here's an idea for motivating your kids to engage in creative writing:

Give your children each a piece of paper and a pencil and ask them to write down the first 20 words they can think of. They can be any words, but encourage them to reach beyond words with little character such as "the," "and," "be," etc. If they are having a hard time thinking of words, then point to a few objects in the room or suggest they think about today's weather, but encourage them to come up with the majority of the words on their own.

Once they have created their word list, the next part of the game is to write a short story using all 20 words in order. If you have more than one child participating in the activity, you can make things even more interesting by having them switch lists before asking them to write their stories. If you have only one child doing the exercise, you might consider making a list of your own while they make theirs and writing a story too.

Then, if your children enjoy showing off their accomplishments (like mine do), take turns reading the stories aloud.

If your children are motivated by time limits, then you can add more excitement to the activity by giving them just 2 or 3 minutes to write down their words and only ten or fifteen minutes to make up their story.

This little activity makes creative writing seem more like a game than a chore and helps kids see how fun it can be.

Here is an example:

1. red 11. snow
2. bowl 12. clouds
3. ice cream 13. sky
4. chocolate 14. airplane
5. shoes 15. bird
6. feet 16. wind
7. sidewalk 17. frisbee
8. cold 18. hair
9. hot 19. eyes
10. grass 20. brush

Margo loved red. She loved it more than having a bowl of ice cream with chocolate chunks and caramel drizzle, which was saying a lot because that was her favorite treat. She loved red more than she loved her shiny black tap shoes that made her feet sound so happy, which was also saying a lot because those were her favorite shoes. The only thing that could have made those two things, the ice cream and tap shoes, even better than the color red was if they were red themselves. One day as Margo was skipping down the sidewalk heading home from school, she got to thinking about how much she loved the color red and wondered what it would be like if everything around her was red. She got a cold tingling down her spine at such a wonderful, magical thought. She imagined red hot cocoa in a bright red mug, short red grass peeking out from underneath a clump of melting red snow, fluffy red clouds in a warm red sky. At this thought, she looked up at the sky and saw an airplane in the distance. It was a deep cherry red with white stripes. Margo thought the color of the plane stood out so beautifully against the cheerful blue sky that she wished she was a bird so she could fly up right up next to it and admire the colors up close. But as she was watching the plane, a gust of wind blew up suddenly and a bright red frisbee flew right past her face, partially blocking her view of the plane. A moment later, a tall boy with a head of fire-red hair came bounding up and stopped right in front of her, once again partially blocking her view of the plane as he bent to scoop up the plastic disk. He paused to apologize for nearly hitting her with the frisbee. As he stood there talking to her, holding his red frisbee up by his red hair, standing in front of the red airplane, Margo noticed that all the reds seemed to kind of blend in with each other and none of them seemed to stand out from anything else when they were all clumped together like that. Margo rubbed her eyes as the boy walked away. (She always rubbed her eyes when she was thinking hard and working out profound truths in her head.) The airplane she had been admiring had not looked so magnificent to her when it was clumped with the other two red objects. She was confused. Margo looked back up at the sky. The airplane was nearly out of eye shot now, but to her delight, it once again looked beautiful to her now that its cherry red was standing out against the blue sky. Margo suddenly realized that what made the plane so lovely to her was the way it contrasted with the other colors around it. Margo rubbed her eyes again as she began to brush an old idea from her head. Now she would view the world differently and enjoy all the colors around her because now she knew that red by itself was not nearly so sweet as red with so many other colors around to compliment it and make it stand out.Photobucket

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