Sunday, September 4, 2011

Make a List - Creative Writing Exercise

This worked so well in the classroom, I had to try it at home.

We would "play" Make a List quite often. The children loved it. I say "play" because that is what the children would say. They considered it a game. I consider it a good exercise in making them THINK.

I give a topic and they write as many things as they can think of to fit the topic. I set the time for about 2 minutes. Then we share our lists. While they are sharing, I add all their good ideas to my list. I share my list as well.  While we are sharing, I allow them to write another good idea that comes to their minds.  After all, we are trying  to compile as big a list as we can. They would try to be the one to have the most (they were so competitive). 

I guess we made it a game, of sorts. If someone shares an idea you have, both have to cross it off their lists. You get points for how many you have that no one else has. I do not tell them if I had it on my list. I just keep track of the BIG list. Some days we do two or three of these. They kept getting better at this all year. Then we count how many things we had for the list. Sometimes children will come up to me later and add another idea to one of the I finally started keeping the lists. We then started trying to see if we could come up with a longer list than any before.

Some topics were:

  • red things
  • things that smell
  • animals with four legs
  • things that go up and down  ( You wouldn't believe the number of great things we thought of for this one!)
  • things with feathers
  • things that fly
  • things made of wood
  • things at a birthday party
  • ways to move
  • kinds of homes 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Treasure Chests - for Creative Writing

The children created "treasure chests" from shoe boxes. Then I gave them a stack of strips of gold paper. We call them treasure" because the are gold and they are very valuable.

I call out questions and the children write a one- or two-word response on one of the strips. Then they fold and put the strip in their chest. Questions are like:
  • A person I would like to meet
  • Something that starts with "g"
  • My least favorite color is
  • One thing I like to do
  • The most beautiful thing I ever saw
  • My mom is ...
  • I want to be a...
  • I wish I could...
We do this every once in awhile to get fresh ideas in their boxes.

Then when we have writing time, they have a boxful of ideas...but they can only draw out one. I set the time. Children seem to lose their "writer's block" with the time  running.  I usually set it for only 3-5 minutes. Some times get only a couple sentences written and other times they get more. But the rule is they must put their pencils down the sescond the timer goes finishing sentences or even words.

Then we read them. The children love to share their stories. I comment on things like a good descriptive word, their use of a recent vocabulary or spelling word, their clear speaking voice, etc. Sometimes a brother or classmate responds with things like "Then what happened?" This is exactly what I hope for. It makes them realize that others want to know about what they are saying.

I save these Some days we take them out and they are to re-read them. Then I have them choose one to write a good paragraph about. This they edit and re-copy in their best penmanship. I don't do this very often as I want them to mostly just enjoy the writing process at this point.

This was a great hit in the classroom, but it works at home too.