Last week I was honored to be invited to speak at a writer’s camp. This two-week camp for grades 2-5 was taught in conjunction with the California Writing Project and Cal State San Marcos.
The students were introduced to my book Grandma’s Pear Tree during the first week and I was able to read the book and talk about writing the second week. What an experience it was to see so many students excited about writing and their dedicated teachers helping them along the way.
One of the exercises I shared with the students dealt with unleashing your imagination. The idea was to get the students to think outside of the box and really let themselves create. The concept is simple, start with a simple object and keep adding and adding until you come up with something absurd.
Here was one example:
If I had a football> I would invite all of my friends to play> we would play in a giant stadium against a team of dinosaurs> we’d dodge their giant dino teeth as we scored the winning touch down> then we’d share milk and cookies once the game was done.
Silly? Yes. Absurd? Yes again, but let’s see how this concept plays out with my own Grandma’s Pear Tree story:
Jessie gets his ball stuck in a tree> tosses his shoe at it, shoe gets stuck> tosses a broom at it, broom gets stuck> tosses a chicken at it, chicken gets stuck> tosses a cat at it, cat gets stuck> Grandma helps him get his things down, Grandma gets stuck.
The point of the exercise was to help the children think outside the box with their writing and it was helpful to use my own book as an example. The exercise worked better as an interactive lesson with the children providing the silly elements for me to tie into a not always plausible story line. No element was too silly or far out.
Here was another example from our session:
I bought a piece of candy> It was stolen by a vampire> we had a sword fight in his castle> zombies tried to help> I offered them some of my cookies> they brought the milk
As you can see their imaginations were working overtime.
I also shared my copy of Spilling Ink as a great resource for students. The teachers were happy with the visit and I came away with a few new story ideas.
Writing on the Sidewalk