Tag Archives: creative writing

Advertise It!

Here’s a creative writing assignment that works well for both individuals and groups of students. I assigned this one to the students in my writing class at co-op, and it was a lot of fun – for them and for me!

The lesson in the writing curriculum we’re using focused on exaggeration in advertising and how words can persuade and influence us. We started out the class by looking through newspaper ads, picking out key phrases such as “One-of-a-Kind”, “Today Only”, and “Essential”. We discussed our favorite infomercials and other television commercials, and how the words used in those ads convince a lot of people (hopefully not us!) to buy the product.

Then it was time to get to work creating their own advertisements. Instead of promoting a product, though, the students promoted a place – a real tourist attraction in the U.S. For classwork, they advertised the Forty-Acre Rock in South Carolina.

The 40-Acre Rock is actually only 14 acres, and the visit consists of a moderately-strenuous hike to a large rock. Sadly, some of the rock has been covered with graffiti. I handed each student a sheet of paper with the basic facts of the attraction: a small beaver pond, the hike, free parking, no restrooms, wildlife in the area, and the big rock. From those facts, they were to write a short paragraph convincing travelers to stop by.

It didn’t take long for them to come up with some great ads! They then took turns reading them out loud in class. And though they all had the same facts to start with, each ad was unique!

Their homework was just as much fun. I provided the students with a list of unusual places to write about, and each student chose one, looked up information about it, and wrote an ad to entice tourists. Here’s what was on our list:

Carhenge (Nebraska)

The Seattle Gum Wall (Washington)

The Corn Palace (South Dakota)

The Barbed Wire Museum (Kansas)

The National Museum of Funeral History (Texas)

The Tree that Owns Itself (Georgia)

The kids had no problems reading their ads out to the class the following week. And in the process, we all discovered some places we’d like to visit – or not! 🙂

 

Photo by Kevin Rosseel

Creating Story Characters

This year at our co-op, I’m teaching a creative writing course using WriteShop as our curriculum. Ten students in grades 6th – 9th are taking the class, and even though there is a difference in ages and abilities, for the most part, the classes run quite smoothly. The way the lessons are designed, we sometimes end up with extra class time for supplemental writing activities. One of our favorites so far has been “Creating Story Characters.”

What you’ll need:

  • Two large garbage bags
  • Various hats (i.e. chef’s hat, football helmet, pirate’s hat, etc.)
  • Other props (we used a Dr. Seuss book, a cape, a Hannah Montana wig, a pink feathery shawl, a fake beard)
  • 3 x 5 cards
  • envelope
  • pen
  • paper for each student
  • pencil for each student

To prepare, place all of the hats in one of the large garbage bags and all of the props in another.

On each 3 x 5 card, write an emotion. You might include happy, depressed, angry, excited, thrilled, lonely, etc. Place these cards in the envelope.

To play:

Ask for a volunteer to come to the front of the class. Have him choose one item from the “hat” bag and one item from the “prop” bag  by simply reaching in the bags without looking. Whatever props he pulls out, he must put on. Then, have him draw an emotion card from the envelope. He must then act out that emotion.

The other students are to quickly create a character based on what they see. They can include as much detail as they want about the character, such as the character’s name, where he’s from, what his hobbies are, why he’s feeling a certain way, etc.

Students have one minute to write about this character. When time is up, go around the room and have the students share their ideas.

I found that as the game progressed so did the creativity the students displayed! They came up with some great ideas for the wacky characters they saw — ideas I never would have thought of. And I have to admit: we had a lot of fun in the process!

Photo by cohdra

Writing Camp

A couple of weeks ago, a friend approached me about putting together a writing camp for the homeschoolers in our area. I was able to get in touch with another friend, author Pam Zollman, who has taught writing classes for years. This week we met to decide the details, and I think the camp is going to be really good.

Pam has written over 40 books for children, and she also worked as an editor at Highlights Magazine. As I listened to her talk during our planning meeting, I could tell she has a knack for getting the information to across to students.

During the camp, we’ll follow a similar schedule each day. To begin, we’ll read a favorite picture book, then together the class with discuss the story elements found in the picture book: characters, setting, and plot. This camp will focus on illustration, too, so we’ll look at the pictures to determine the medium used and the mood created.

Then Pam will start with the writing instruction, and the kids will work on their own original stories. Next, I’ll give the children some drawing tips so they can develop illustrations to go along with their books. Throughout the camp, Pam and I will be available to help them out as they work on their projects.

One of the best things about this camp is the educational experience it affords — and during the summer, too! Kids will spend five days learning, reading, writing, drawing, and putting their own book together. It can certainly be counted as school time, even if the children are having too much fun to realize it!

Do you have a friend who likes to write? Does she enjoy teaching as well? If so, encourage her to set up a class for the homeschoolers in your area. It doesn’t have to last all week — even one or two classes can inspire a young writer to start creating.

Write2Ignite! Conference

2writeThis weekend, I will be attending the second annual Write2Ignite! Writing Conference. This conference is for Christian authors who write for children, and I am really looking forward to it.  I know I’m going to come away from the conference encouraged and motivated, but besides all the good information I’m going to learn, one of the best parts about this conference is that I get to share it with my son.

The conference includes joint sessions and workshops for the adults, which focus on everything from writing short stories and magazine articles to developing young adult novels to submitting your work. Editors and authors will be featured speakers, and attendees can choose the workshops that interest them the most.

But the conference also offers a teen track for students in the seventh through the twelfth grades. The teens will attend their own workshops with Jonathan Friesen, author of the novel Jerk California. His goal for these classes is to increase the students’ passion for their writing, leaving them excited about their work and ready to tell their own stories. He’ll talk about characterization, tension, emotion, and dialog, providing the students with a lot of good instruction as they begin (or continue) to create their own stories.

My son John also attended the first conference, and he came back with journal pages full of ideas and a story he had just started writing. This time, he’s older, and I know he’ll glean even more from the classes. Not only is it a great schooling and learning opportunity, but what makes it so special, too, is that he’ll be taking the class with cousins, friends, and new acquaintances — a shared experience they can talk about later, and perhaps one that will help them encourage each other with their writing.