I’ve been facilitating an after-school creative writing club for students in grades 3rd-5th grades. This is a fun age to work with because they have so many creative ideas! However, one of the challenges of working with this club is the wide span of ability levels. There are kids who are writing four page, typed stories and there are kids who are struggling to write a paragraph. In their school day, the kids work on computers, but in creative writing club, the kids do not have access to computers. I hoped to be able to do more sharing of their work with each other as I’ve done with middle school kids, but the club only meets for an hour a week and it’s right after school. This doesn’t seem to be an ideal time for the young writers to listen to each other too well.
So, what to do with this creative writing club?
The first week of the club, I handed out lined journals. The kids were excited to receive the journals and our first assignment was to make a list of the things, people, and places they loved.
Right away, I saw how well the lists worked. It didn’t matter if the kids could write paragraphs or entire stories, everyone could make a list. And lists could be adapted to meet a variety of needs.
Each week in the club, we’ve been making lists. Here are some of the lists:
1. Create a list of loves for your character. Include people, places, and things on the list.
2. Create a list of your main character’s physical appearance.
3. Create a list of your main character’s past history–include things such as fights they’ve had with siblings, friends, and enemies as well as times in their life which were happy and times which were sad.
4. Create a list of your bad guy’s physical appearance
5. Create a list of your bad guy’s past history–do the same as for the main character and include things such as fights they’ve had with siblings, friends, and enemies as well as times in their life which were happy or sad.
6. Create a list of your setting–name all the places your story takes place
7. Draw you setting and label places where key events take place. (I handed out large white paper for this activity)
8. Make a list of everything that happens in your story.
9. Make a list of all the doorway moments in your story. Where and when does it begin? What happens when your character goes through a doorway and/or portal in your story? Think about all the doorways your characters go through in the story. (We also drew a doorway for this activity).
10. Make a list of all the questions and things you don’t know about your story. What puzzles you? What haven’t you solved in your story? What things do you need to learn about your story?
The young writers have discovered the lists to be great help to them when they go home to write. I implemented a “green ticket” system and each week, four young writers receive a “green ticket” which instructs them to bring two pages of typed writing to show me the following week. I take home their writing and make comments, then I meet with the young writers individually. This way, I’m getting a chance to see their work on a larger scale and they get a chance to meet with me on on one.
Do you make lists when you write? How do they help you?