Monday, January 12, 2015

Writing Club!

I've got a couple of kiddos who need more reading and writing help (Gasp!  NOT MY KIDS!) and one of them was gonna go into it kicking and screaming (again, GASP!) so I came up with a diabolical plan, and recruited some of the neighborhood to help.  Also, candy.

So we now have a WRITERS' CLUB every Monday at 3:00 at our house.  My Sweet P thought it was stoopiiid until she saw her friends laughing around our table, eating candy; and now she whines when I have to cancel the club.  Each child will be able to "publish" his or her own book in the spring, and we'll share them with each other.  Suddenly, my kids are writing their brains out, 'cause who knew?  Writing is FUN!

I've invited about 16 kids to participate (including my own), so we have about 9 kids each week that show up.  Most are around 1st-3rd grade age, but all are welcome.  Each child has their own folder, and I put different papers, pens, pencils, markers, etc.. on the table.

Each week has a theme, but at the end of each session, we just write, write, write in silence, and they can write whatever they want.  Some of them just draw stories without words.  It's fun to see their personalities come out in their writing.

We start with a 10-15 minute introduction of the topic of the day.  Last week it was, "You can't be a writer if you don't read!"  This intro actually took up most of the hour, as we all brought our favorite book to share with each other.

Then, we do a writing exercise.  Today we'll be learning about poetry, so after I show them several different kinds, I have a handout with a fill-in-the-blanks acrostic about MONSTERS.  I'll set the timer for 3 minutes and have them do that.  Then, anyone who wants to share, can.

  I'll briefly introduce haiku, acrostic, autobiographical, songs, ballads, rhyming, free-form, image  and alliterative poetry, sharing an example of each.  I'll also give them an autobiographical poem format, and time to do that, or any other kind of poetry form they wish.
Write a poem about yourself using  this form or another poetry form.
Line 1: __ Your name
Line 2: _, _, _ 3 personal characteristics or physical traits
Line 3: Brother or sister of__ or son/daughter of
Line 4: Who loves__, __, and __ 3 people, things, ideas
Line 5: Who feels__ about__1 emotion about 1 thing
Line 6: Who needs__, __, and __ 3 things you need
Line 7: Who gives __, __, and __3 objects you share
Line 8: Who fears__, __, and __3 items
Line 9: Who'd like to see, __1 place, or person
Line 10: Who dreams of __ 1 item or idea 

Line 11: A student of__ your school or teacher's name
Line 12: __ Nickname or repeat your first name

We're going to talk about the different purposes of poetry, what emotions can be expressed, and how we bring our own interpretations to what others write.

I've stolen material from Jack Prelutsky, William Carlos Williams, Sharon Creech, Shel Silverstein and others (some web sites sited below), but it's not illegal/immoral if I'm not charging anyone for the class, and I've not monetized my blog, right?
    What Bugs Me
    When my teacher tells me to write a poem.
    When my mother tells me to clean up my room.
    When my sister practices her violin while I’m watching TV.
    When my father tells me to turn off the TV and do my homework.
    When my brother picks a fight with me and I have to go to bed early.
    When my teacher asks me to get up in front of the class and read the poem I wrote on the school bus.
A limerick has five lines.
The last words of lines one, two, and five rhyme.
The last words of lines three and four rhyme.
A limerick has to have a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
    U S U U S U U S
    U S U U S U U S
    U S U U S
    U S U U S
    U S U U S U U S
An example is - 
"There was an old man from Peru
Who dreamed he was eating his shoe
He awoke in the night
With a terrible fright
To discover it was totally true."

Here's a Haiku to help you remember:
I am first with five
Then seven in the middle --
Five again to end.

Green and speckled legs,  
Hop on logs and lily pads
Splash in cool water.

After another sharing session, I'll give them them time for silent writing/illustrating where they can write or draw WHATEVER they want.  Then, refreshments.  Last week it was Oreos and hot cocoa.  This week, Popsicles.

I found after the first few weeks of candy on the table, that it would be more effective if the refreshments were served at the end.  It's sort of an incentive to stay and participate the entire time.  I don't threaten or coax or force.  If a child leaves to play, that's fine, but the refreshments are only for the writers' club participants.  I've also had to gently suggest to a couple of kiddos that maybe they would rather go home than stay and quietly write.  That's all it takes to keep control.

In the future, we'll study Fiction, Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Biography, Instruction, Alphabet, Comic, etc. books and how to write them.  We may even get into point of view...I don't know.  I'm a grown-up and it's my club--I can do what I want!

To sum up: Writing is fun, and ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE A WRITER CAN BE A WRITER!
Back when I was a closet writer, Penny Hussey, a really good friend and amazing, PUBLISHED WRITER, and publisher, invited me to a similar writing club.  She basically changed my life.
Thanks, Penny, for teaching me that anyone can write and for opening the entire world up to me!

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