Kids are so smart and creative, it blows me away.
Last week I had the honor of teaching a word camp for kids 9-12 at Alvan N. Belding Memorial Library. It was the best experience I’ve had all summer.
We took some extra steps to make writing fun and made some discoveries along the way. Here they are, hopefully you can find a way to inspire a kid to write too.
- You’re never too old to dress up. We had a theme each day and it was fun to jump into character. The kids ask questions and realizing everything around them is a story waiting to be told.
- Active listening, DO IT! Kids are often looked down on or worse ignored. Foster a creative spirit in your group by saying yes to their ideas (not yours) and going with the flow.
- Handouts? Nope! I can’t tell you how many times the kids left our handouts on the table… So I recommend making them a folder with all the handouts and passing them out at the end of the week as a recap.
- SWAG! We got bags, custom notebooks, patches, and stickers to go along with our them. The kids were equipped to write by the end of the week.
- Pick one project for the week and stick with it. Some kids bounced around ideas and a few picked a bigger project and by the end of the week had chapters written, backstory filled in, and plots outlined. It seemed the kids with one project got more tangible results than the others.
- Incorporate art. Comics, doodles, drawings, maps, cover art–you get the idea. Kids like to draw and it spurs their creative process, embrace it. I stapled paper together to make dummy books for the kids to practice on.
- Get active. Kids sitting on their butts for three hours is no fun. Get up, wiggle, play creative games and link them back to your topic. Talking about characters led to charades, and exposition blossomed into nature walks.
- Let them pick their group. Assigned seating is not for the creative soul, especially if the kid next to you doesn’t mix with your personality. The only rule we had was four to a table, pick a seat.
- Play to the kids strengths. I gave a writing prompt with options, “Write a story about a space babysitter, musician, or mechanic…” Letting the kids choose was essential to tapping into their creativity.
Kids realizing writing is all about them and their decisions about the story is so empowering. It’s worth every bit of energy to foster it.
All in all it was a fun and productive week. Hopefully you too can use these ideas to keep kids engaged in the creative process.