This week I had the joy of teaching a creative writing camp for middle schoolers. I had seven students in grades five through eight who signed up to learn more about creative writing. Awesome!
We focused on writing fiction, but dabbled in poetry and exercises in creative thinking. We covered the elements of story and I shared lessons learned from my writing journey. The kids were eager to experiment and have fun.
- Why are you interested in creative writing?
- What kind of creative writing do you enjoy?
- What have you written already?
- What are you hoping to learn this week?
The answers were honest and remarkably insightful. Two students shared the following:
- "I am interested in creative writing first and foremost because I am an avid reader. One of my favorite quotes was from a writer who said, “You have to love to read to love to write.”
- "Sometimes I just like to write on paper about something random I’m thinking of, not in a certain way. I like writing poetry, and to draw out my thoughts too."
I asked for two volunteers and put them in the center of the room. We asked the group for topic suggestions and they came up with "favorite foods and places to eat" and I recorded the conversation on my phone. It was a little odd, but that actually made for a fun writing exercise. Here's a little "taste" of what was said:
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Student 1: Where do you like to eat?
Student 2: I like to go to Graeter’s for ice cream.
Student 1: I don’t like to go to Graeter’s for ice cream.
Student 2: I like to go to Pot Belly for their sandwiches. Do you?
Student 1: I don’t know where Pot Belly is.
Student 2: Uhm, I like Pizza.
Student 1: I like pizza too. Do you eat more junk food or healthy food?
Student 2: Junk food.
Student 1: I eat healthy food and junk food.
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Sarah sat staring her worst enemy in the eye.
“Where do you like to eat?” Allie asked, disdain dripping from every word.
Sarah wished she could leave. Mac wanted to be her partner, but Ms. Jones had stuck her with Allie first. Perfect. “I like to go to Graeter’s for ice cream,” she mumbled.
“I don’t like to go to Graeter’s for ice cream,” Allie said, stating the obvious.
Sarah soldiered on. “I like to go to Pot Belly for their sandwiches. Do you?”
Allie huffed and looked across the room at her best friend Kate and her assigned partner. It was clear where she'd rather be. “I don’t know where Pot Belly is.”
When can I get out of here, thought Sarah. “Uhm, I like pizza.”
“I like pizza too,” Allie said, agreeing at last. She bestowed a glance in Sarah's direction. “Do you eat more junk food or healthy food?” Sarah could tell this was a loaded question.
“Junk food,” she said hesitantly.
“I eat healthy food and junk food,” Allie said with her usual superiority.
I gave all of the students a copy of Spilling Ink by Ellen Potter and Anne Mazer to help them continue their writing journey. It's a wonderful book full of tips, ideas, and encouragement. Check out my Resources page for more links for kids who like to write.