Castles, September-October 2017

It’s been a great start to the school year. We have been inventing our own castles this term,  inspired by Colin Thompson’s book ‘Castles’. I have been amazed by the quantity and quality of ideas produced across the different groups I teach. We are now moving onto writing our quest stories (where the castles will obviously feature!). The castles are here:

 

 

The start of the quest stories are here:

 

 

Beautiful Underground Worlds, 23-25 August 2017

It’s the end of my summer classes for another year! I’ve had a lovely summer with such creative children. This week we were Under the Ground! These were the stages to our work:

1. Read and discuss The Street Beneath My Feet by Yuval Zommer
2. Make collaborative murals of underground worlds and start on our individual worlds
3. 
Gather things from home that could fit into our worlds
4. Read and discuss The Something by Rebecca Cobb and pictures of huge pits, holes etc.
5. Write personification poetry imagining we ARE the worlds 
6 Write stories for our worlds

Lovely work from Fantastical Creatures! 9-11 August 2017

Just had an amazing 3 days doing art and creative writing with the theme of Fantastical Creatures. Here is a snapshot of the lovely work below. Our 3 stages were:

  1. Create our fantastical creatures and their home, the “Wonder Garden” (inspired by Jenny Broom)
  2. Write simile poems for our creatures 
  3. Create word maps for the garden and write stories

Sock Monsters!

I don’t usually do children’s birthday parties as I teach regular classes every weekend, but as an exception I had the pleasure of doing one yesterday. We made sock monsters!

I have got a bit carried away myself making quite a few of these lovely puppets. They are so easy to make and really versatile for games and creative activities.

Puppets and role-play is also so helpful for story-building – a lot of potential here! 

How I teach Creative Writing

A lot of my students initially tell me they are ‘bad at writing’ and ‘can’t do it’; ‘don’t know what to write’. They are also fed up with lists of things to include in creative writing: complex vocabulary; adverbials of time, place and manner; metaphors, similes, etc.

I use games, art, drama and music as a way in to writing. Kids’ eyes light up when they see paint or plasticine on the table in their writing lesson. Are these relevant to writing? Yes!

To start stories, you need creative magic. It can come from anywhere: from a place you visited; from a rock you like the feel of; from the smell of damp leaves; from your dream last night. Some students find it easily, but many, when confronted with a blank page, don’t.  

I help them find it and then channel it into their writing. We model plasticine characters and imagine what they are like – what do they want? What do they dream about? Do they like broccoli? We paint/collage settings and jump into them like in Mary Poppins. What can we see? What can we smell? Is it raining? Is the rain hot or cold? We laugh about things we imagine like rotten egg smells and dog poo, floating people and giant trees.

Once they have come up with a place and a character then their imaginations take them into the story. They get excited; ideas flow easily; they realise they are in control of the writing even though they don’t know how the story ends. This is the creative process!

And then they edit the story. We find any gaps in the plot; we discuss exciting similes and metaphors etc.; we question constantly in order to make the world of the story more real. But now they’re enthusiastic and involved; happy to do it. Because now they’re committed to their characters and to their ideas. It’s all from them; not from a list.