Creative writing is an undeniably valuable skill for elementary students. Even though some students embrace it with open arms, others are resistant for a number of reasons. Finding ways to incorporate writing into daily schooling is mainly the responsibility of the educator in charge. This task requires a lot of thought and planning, but also creativity and risk taking too. This article is going to address some ways to get students excited about creative writing skills during their time in elementary.
Make a Collaborative Class Project
What better way to encourage your students to write than by writing a book for the purposes of being published? Seeing their own writing in print and being able to take a physical copy home is a unique feeling that they will carry for a long time forward. A credible company to support this style of project is Studentreasures Publishing which has a specific elementary student class book option to utilize when the writing is ready to go to print.
How do you go about making a class writing project come to life? There are some options worth exploring.
- Split the class into groups and give each group a section to write with corroborative writing prompts for consistency purposes.
- Collectively decide on character stylings, purposes, and story arcs.
- For something fun, try setting up a voice recorder for the purposes of the lesson. Go around the room, with a clear visual writing prompt for everyone to see, and ask everyone to say just one word until a story starts taking shape. Record this so everyone can listen back and use this as a sounding board for creating the rest of the story together.
- Provide the start and end of a story and let the children fill in the middle bits. Pull together the most common ideas and use that to complete the story.
Re-write Famous Stories
Fairy tales and fables are well-known and widely applied in children’s learning. They feature on TV shows, as common lessons and are a theme throughout many variations of literature on offer. The point is, chances are there are a few stories in circulation that all the children in the class are familiar with. The Three Little Pigs,or even something completely different such as Cinderella – these are good examples of a common knowledge storyline that can therefore be more easily re-written.
An engaging task is better approached when children feel like they are winning before they’ve even started. So, by providing the material that is already established in their minds and asking them to make it their own, you are probably giving them a project that they have had in the back of their minds anyway. Chances are they have played this story out a hundred times in their imagination, role-played it with friends, and even read it to themselves by now. So, it is not a big leap to suggest some personal modifications. Ask them to tweak characters, or maybe change how the story ends. Keep it short, keep it punchy and if they want to share their work at the end – let them!
Read a Variety of Genres
A large part of inspiring creative writing tendencies is through providing a basis for that to happen. If children are not encouraged to read, they probably won’t be inspired to write either. Writing stories is largely influenced by which stories go into the brain through exposure to literature. Plenty of fine children’s books exist that can be read, taught, encouraged, and presented as source materials to look at. Have a class book where every child gets a copy to take home and focus lessons around this story. Make it interesting and ensure that each time a book is finished, a completely different genre is the next choice along.
Have Free Writing Time
Ten minutes at the start of the day before all the long lessons begin is enough. Free writing time is a time when a student can write about whatever topic they want in whichever style they please. It can be a poem, a short story, a list of facts, or a character description. Wherever their mind takes them, that is what needs to be encouraged.
Give students a special writing book for this style of exercise and leave it on the desk first thing so they establish a routine and expectation. Give them anywhere up to half an hour to just sit and write. Even if they don’t engage every time, that is okay. Once a week is better than nothing and the chances of them sitting down and starting to write are heightened massively when A) all the other kids in the class are doing it, B) it becomes a part of their daily routine, and C)confidence grows over time.
Don’t Pressure Students to Share
Making students share their work against their will is an emotionally harmful and toxic teaching practice. There is a boundary to be struck, of course, but creative writing is personal. Unless the project is a group one, never mandate that learners have to read aloud their work to the group. This can stop a love for creative writing before it has had a chance to bloom into what it is supposed to be. There are different styles of lessons that can nurture public speaking and vocal interaction – creative writing is not always the right avenue to explore this.
Have Daily Writing Prompts
Finally, put a daily writing prompt where everyone can see it. This can be any topic, a character name, a setting, or even just an emotion. Children, during their free writing time, can then move with this theme as they wish. This writing prompt can also be incorporated into all the lessons for the day.
Creative writing is an excellent tool for young learners. It is something that will translate and be carried with them through their whole time in education and the skills that are learned through expressing their own writing styles are highly transferable to other subjects, for example, in essay writing.