Why is it that putting the word “creative” in front of “writing” seems to engage a young person’s interest so much more than “writing?” Is it that kids are naturally creative and the word intuitively speaks to them? Is it that the capacity to imagine and create is a natural part of being human until we come to believe we “don’t have it?” Do we come to believe we don’t have it because we don’t exercise it? Is a civilization with so much modern entertainment at our fingertips, in our cars, in our houses, creating excessive “input” that overshadows “output?”
Check out WORDTOONS. Wayne Logue is a gifted illustrator who was punished for riding his bike in another neighborhood as a child and sentenced to two weeks in his bedroom after school with nothing but markers, blank paper, and a Mickey Mouse coloring book. At the end of the two weeks, he discovered he could draw a reasonable Mickey Mouse and he has made his living illustrating. Wayne combines language with drawing. WORDTOONS teaches you how to draw pictures from the printed word, i.e. how to draw a dog from the letters d-o-g. Kids love it. I met him through an email seeking permission to include his work in the Plumdiggity! book. He generously offered to illustrate the cover gratis, wanting to support a writing resource that engaged student imagination.
Do you know what just about every student begs to do in my creative writing clubs? Draw- and use markers, color pencils- anything to use color. They LOVE color and time to imagine and express through illustration and color. I just discovered illustration last year and wonder where I would be had I drawn more as a kid. The Koala Bear above was done 3 months after the first lesson I had. People say “I could never do that,” and I disagree WHOLEHEARTEDLY! I was just shown and followed orders to see and measure and erase and stay with it until I captured it. One way to encourage more story writing is to insist your children illustrate it along the way.
Here are some fun writing games to do to stir up the creative writing channels with the children in your lives, be it in the car, at the dinner table, or waiting in a doctor’s office…
Whatever you have or had for dinner (or breakfast-lunch), have your children write the letters of the food in reverse order. Rice would be ecir. Chicken is nekcihc. It’s fun, it’s goofy, and it’s good practice to try to pronounce a backward spelled word- it makes attempting to pronounce an unknown “normal” word almost easier because of familiar letter combinations. This is an excellent but playful daily activity that takes 30 seconds.
Another imaginative exercise is to suggest that the current meal is being served to the Queen and King in the land of _________________ and let them make up the Land’s name and even the Queen and King’s name. Serve up a batch of creativity at mealtime (when time is not rushed) and allow everyone a few moments of wonderful escape into the Land of Imagination. A little laughter at meal times = easier digestion!