Monday, February 2, 2009
Where do Ideas Come From? - An Exercise in Creativity for Young Writers
There’s nothing as pure and crystal clear as a child’s imagination. Children are great at daydreaming, imagining and creating. Unfortunately, all too often, as children grow and are taught the mechanics of writing, much of the clarity seems to diminish. Sadly, children tend to lose confidence in their ability to write, and many become “reluctant writers”. If you are a parent or a teacher, there are ways that you can get your children’s creative writing juices flowing. You can create excitement about the writing process. Through my experiences as a teacher and an author, I have developed some enjoyable exercises that accomplish this goal and spark the imagination. Choose one exercise for each lesson and take the time to discuss the children’s answers before setting them to the task of writing.
1. “What if?” - Have the children look around, carefully eyeing each object in the room. Ask them the questions, “What if that stuffed animal were to come to life at night?” Or, “What if the fish in that tank is really a creature from another planet?” Or, “What if those musical instruments started to play by themselves?” Or, “What if your school bus could fly?”
2. “Start with a title” – Tell the children the title for a book. This can be a real or a made up title. The children are asked to come up with a story to go with the title. Some of the titles that spark the most excitement and creative ideas are “A Lizard Ate My Broccoli”, “My Goldfish Can’t Swim”, and “A Mouse is Living in my Locker.”
3. “Create a Fantasy ” – Read a short story about fairies, elves, or any fantasy character. Talk about the mysteries in the world of make-believe. (I usually read one of my books, The Knot Fairy who tangles your hair while you sleep, or The Sock Fairy who is responsible for missing socks.) Ask the children to create their own fairy or other fantasy character – one that could be responsible for missing items or unexplained mysteries in their lives.
4. “Build a story” – This one works well with groups of children. One child is selected to start by creating the first line of a new story. Each child, in turn, adds a line to the story. This also builds good listening skills.
5. “Character sketches” – Show the students various pictures of possible story characters. These can be pictures from books, magazines or even old photographs. Have the children create a description of each character. Based on the character’s appearance (expression, clothing, etc.), have them describe the character’s personality, occupation, likes and dislikes.
I hope you will try these activities with your children. I know you will enjoy it as much as they do.