Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing Workshop for Kids

"Oma, will you teach a writing class for grandkids?" asked Chloë.
(Can you imagine how thrilled I was?)

Listen in on Oma's Write Stuff Workshop:

"What's a workshop, Lucy?"
"A place where you work and keep your tools?"
"Right! So a Write Stuff Workshop is a place where you work on writing stuff
and learn about writing tools."

"Nowadays everybody writes on the computer. But back in the olden days I just used a pad of paper and a pencil. Really, the only other thing you need to be a writer is an idea."

"Do you ever daydream, Jessi? Daydreaming is an important skill when you're a writer. You need to notice details (using all five senses) and dream about the stories they tell. Let's go catch some daydreams!"

Notebooks and pencils in hand, we went on a walk. "What are your five senses?" I asked. With each answer we paid closer attention to our surroundings. Sounds like flip-flops flapping, tires turning, sprinklers spraying were written down. We smelled garbage and grass, felt a rough brick and a smooth window. "Jessi's eyes are as blue as . . . " We realized that they are a unique blue, unlike any of the blue flowers in the garden.

"I'll tell you a writer's secret," I said. "If you learn to make a Dreamcatcher you'll always have ideas. Write down a detail you've noticed and draw a box around it.

"Does that idea make you think of something else? Write that one down, too. Draw a line from the first idea to the next and on and on. Pretty soon you've made a web and caught a whole bunch of daydreams." It was time to choose a daydream and write about it.

(Chloë used an old-fashioned laptop.)

"Jess, you look like a reporter! Does anybody know what letter a reporter uses over and over to write a story?" Nobody knew. "Stories all need 5 W's: Who, what, where, when and why. For a reader to care about your story they want to know who it’s about, what happened, where it happened, when it happened, why it happened and why they should even care."

We discussed The Three Bears and Cinderella, searching for the 5 W's. They were there! The next part of the workshop involved some reporting, using oral interviews. The girls each called a faraway cousin and conducted an interview, and then wrote a short article for our Cousin's Club Newsletter.

"You've got a few writing tools for your workshop," I told them. "A reason to daydream, a Dreamcatcher, the 5 W's, and some interview skills. Now let's make your writing sparkle!

"Alliteration is fun to read. What if I wrote a poem about Several Nice Frogs? Would it sound more interesting if I called it Five Friendly Frogs? Why? What if I wrote a story and the title was Little Girls Eat Lunch? Would you be more intrigued if it was called Chicks Chow Down?

"Writing words with the same sound is called alliteration. Let’s practice. Describe yourself in three words that start with your initial. I'll start: Marty makes memories."

More newsletter entries: we compiled a list of all twenty cousins and made up some funny facts using alliteration. Chelsea chews chocolate, Lauren licks lollipops and Jill juggles jigsaws were just a few.

Our two hours were up—time to wrap it with a homework assignment and a little present. "It takes practice to become a good writer, just like any talent you want to develop. You don’t become a ballerina just by putting on a tutu; you can’t hit home-runs just by picking up a bat. It takes lots of practice. Writers write every single day. I write a blog to make sure I practice. What's another way to write every day?"

A diary! Of course!
Aunt Min had contributed her special little books
and my new journalists were delighted!

I found this note taped to my computer a little later:

My whole world looks more colorful now!

It was so much fun, I'm taking Oma's Write Stuff Workshop on the road.

Meet me in St. Louis!


Anonymous said...

Omg I loved this.I wish my daughter could do this with you and me 2 :)

Shelley said...

This is so wonderful and special. I would love for my kids to participate, too bad we live on the other side of the country!

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love this! Thanks so much for sharing! I'm going to follow along and try this with my girls.

Misty said...

Oma, I wish you were my Grandma.