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Education Matters

Creative Writing for Beginners: Inspiring the Creative Writing Process

January 1st, 2015

"Reading" by ThomasLife ( under license CC BY-ND 2.0

By Sarah L. Watson

Children who are attending school often dread completing their homework, especially their highly structured writing lessons, which stem from a curriculum that usually focuses on the most basic literacy concepts.  However, the most entertaining pieces of writing that I have received from a child are unstructured, unusual, quirky, and hilarious. Children have no filter, and manners and rules are given to them by parents and other adults. As a child, I was so excited to tell a story because every day I had learned something new and surprising. I even performed dramatic plays in front of my teacher and peers, and with my honest nature and vulnerability, evoked the roaring laughter from all those who seen my little show.  I now truly consider myself to be a poetry and creative writing fanatic. There are many things that have inspired my passion for creative writing, and I can’t simply give credit to one activity or personality trait that is responsible for my love of writing. However, that one day in class when all the children responded to my dramatic performance with laughter, I felt that kids were inspired by my stories. Laughter is a sign that we are doing something right. With that said, here are some ways that educators and parents can help children gain an appreciation for creative writing:

  1. Read, Read, and Read- Despite the repetitive nature of curriculums, reading is in every curriculum yet is definitely the root to inspiring creative writing. Why? Clearly, children need to know how to read in order to create their first poem or short story; but more importantly, they need to appreciate surprising language and imagery. Even an infant will turn the pages of a book and point to images, wondering what they are. As you alter the tone of your voice and explain the images, he or she will laugh. Buy a reading chair for your child or create a customized reading corner: this makes reading special and memorable for your child.

  2. Appreciate Music and Lyrics- Music can be linked to creative writing in many ways, but let’s focus on rhythm. Children that learn a song from start to finish, focusing on the rhythm and beat of the music, will gain an appreciation for symmetry. A big part of writing poetry; for example, is being able to understand rhythm and meter and its connection with the reader.  By studying a song, children learn when to expect a verse and when to expect a chorus, and this prepares them for learning poetry techniques like when to break or begin with a new line in poetry.

  3. Start a Travel Journal- Writing a poem or story is easy when one is inspired.  A poem or story needs a concept and main point, and that main point stems from a metaphor or imagery. Imagine all of the imagery that your child will take note of during a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains or a field-trip to the zoo. Encourage your child to record all the details of their trip. Include the destination, some interesting highlights of the trip, the textures, smells, sights, and sounds noticed while observing the area. Other items that may be gathered during the trip can be stored in the journal, such as, ticket stubs, brochures, souvenirs, and postcards. Tangible items make excellent reference points when describing an image in a poem or short story.

  4. Play the Expression Game- Have you ever looked at someone and wondered what they are thinking? The expression game allows your child or student to guess the internal thoughts of the character on the page based on that character's facial expression. It is important to teach our future writers the significance of connecting with the reader. Therefore, children should be engaging in activities that will make them more conscientious and aware of other’s emotions. Getting started with this game is simple. Search for pictures of people or animals in magazines that you have already read or no longer needs, then ask your child or student to prepare a sentence about how the person may be feeling or what the person is thinking. Finally, print the sentence on a piece of paper that can be cut and glued above the image as a thought bubble!

  5. Go on a Scavenger Hunt- Scavenger hunts are great because they are customizable. In this particular scavenger hunt, your child or student will be engaged by searching for pieces of paper that contain descriptive words. Of course, in order to find “clues” about the topic and content of their future story, the children will first need to listen to an adult read a hint that addresses the whereabouts of the hidden paper. A scavenger hunt may be done in groups or individually. Children are very social in their primary years and are full of energy: they are motivated by playful, team-building exercises, so a group scavenger hunt and writing project will channel this energy and result in the completion of a fun learning exercise.

Sarah L. Watson currently resides in Fort McMurray, Alberta. In 2010, she completed her Baccalaureate Degree in Psychology and English literature, with a focus in creative writing.  Upon graduation, she received the Bliss Carmen Memorial prize for her poetry. She has taken many education courses and is currently studying human resources management at Keyano College. Actively, Sarah promotes literacy in the community, participates in many volunteer projects, and writes poetry. She keeps busy at work by composing and editing résumés and cover letters for those seeking employment in the Fort McMurray area. At home, she cares for her curious daughter who is fourteen months old.




Tags: education

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