This is a new block for me and I am really excited about teaching it in the 2017-2018 school year! Below are my notes as I prep for this topic.
There are lots of other resources for teaching creative writing. I have the following:
Misc. Assorted Resources:
I blended this with the use of some Montessori resources for teaching geography, thereby allowing the children to create an entire imaginary world.
This was inspired by the fact that we had our first literature circle of the year on Bridge
to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. As that story was concluding, we were transitioning into the WWS block. Doing a review of landforms
and water features early in the school year also seemed like a good foundation for the Age of Exploration and World Geography blocks.
Week One: Wonder
Dorit Winter writes on pp. 21-22,
"In our kindergartens and the early grades, we can still directly address the child's sense of wonder. For some
children, it is a sense already badly wounded. Through the imagination it can be healed. The tales we tell
our little children are wonderful. In fourth, fifth and sixth grades, we have to begin to evoke that sense of wonder less directly. By
seventh grade, if we address the sense of wonder directly, we will be laughed out of the classroom. For the seventh grader
is donning the heavy armor of adolescence, and the more complete it is, the more
s/he fears exposure of the tender soul which still enjoys the golden sky. The golden sky is in the past for
seventh graders; they are turned outward, toward the uncharted future. Any hint of inwardness makes them explosively uneasy, and
rightly so, because now for the seventh grader is the dawning epoch of the consciousness soul. (As perhaps we might say that now
for the eighth grader is the twentieth century, and now for the ninth grader is today, whereas for the tenth, eleventh and twelfth
grader, more and more of tomorrow creeps in.)"
I am using the Imaginary Island Project
as a way to get my seventh graders to access their sense of Wonder. As she writes on page 22,
"In that dawning, where the blue and the gold are both present, there are unexpected new joys. One such
new joy is the discovery of the power of keen observation, whether in a chemistry experiment, a geometric proof or in a preliminary
exercise for a writing assignment. For "WISH, WONDER and SURPRISE" ought to be inwardly experienced activities,
evoked by an active imagination through the means of written compositions, and the compositions that
most scientifically evoke the inner mood of wonder through an outwardly oriented scientific method are
based on exercises in observation."
Because we are using an outwardly oriented scientific method to help students get to the inwardly experienced activities of the soul moods,
the Montessori material comes in handy here. My notes reflect my use of the Montessori materials which I already own.
I am going ahead with calling it the Imaginary Island Project, although she argues on page 23 that "Creative Writing" is a possibility for this
block. She is firm that it should not be called "Wish, Wonder and Surprise" to the children.
Activity #1 - Our new poem (the Wordsworth one), listening to John Masefield's poem "Cargoes," and then
I really like starting this block with Dorit Winter's lesson on describing natural objects (pp.24-25)
Activity #2 - As she writes in the remainder of Chapter Two, "You cannot spend the entire main lesson writing" and "This raises the
frequently-asked question of what to do during the rest of the main lesson, when the children are not writing." She even says on page 26, "Some teachers
have found it practical to work on a play, or even on something more remote, like arithmetic,
during the time when the children are not writing or working on their main lesson books."
My plan is
to use the remainder of this time by allowing students to create their own individual imaginary worlds, starting with reviewing the nomenclature for landforms
and water features, then combining
landforms and water features of their choice in a unique way to create the geography of their island.
Mandala Classroom Resources:
Land and Water Forms: Set of 38 - $49.00
Activity #3 -
Dorit Winter, p.27, suggestion on a field trip to the park
we did this at Dayempur Farm, where we spend every Wednesday
Reviewing the biomes and having students decide on the biomes on their island. They should create a 2D map (introducing the gelatos as a new art material will make
this even more special), and then come up with the plants and
animals which would live there. These can be real or imaginary.
Love these cut paper imagination habitats!
An Introduction to the
Biomes with Curriculum - Elementary - $50.00
Biomes of the World Mat - $75.00
Complete Set of Control Charts for the Biome Puzzles - $25.00
Biomes of the Continent Labels - $25.00
Complete Set of Biome Cards for the Continents - $270.00
Map Legend Stamp - $30.00
Activity #4 -
Reviewing the Fundamental Needs of Man (Key Lesson after the Third Great Lesson) and asking students
to decide on the people(s) who live on their island. Describe how they meet each of their fundamental needs. Let the children begin to know their future short story characters.
Fundamental Needs of Humans Chart - $48.00
Activity #5 - Continue with creative writing activities daily.
Dorit Winter, p.27, suggestion on describing a still life in the center of a circle of desks
My younger group was doing the Jataka Tales block at this time, so my older
students participated in their Still Life with Figs activity (for "The Monkey and the Crocodile").
Dorit Winter writes on page 28,
"The point, to reiterate, is to get the seventh graders to look carefully. Once you have managed
to improve their observation skills and their ability to articulate their observations, you might want to read some
gems of descriptive writing to them. (If you do this first, the clever students will try to be "copy cats," while
the rest get discouraged.) John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Lewis Thomas, John McPhee, for instance,
are all fine nature writers.
"Later, perhaps even after this main lesson block is over, you might read aloud to your class some accurately imagined landscapes,
accurately imagined characters (Dickens!). For imagination is the result of careful observation. You can inspire your seventh
graders to new heights of clear prose once you have fired them with the challenge of careful observations. In this way, you will
be training the imagination, which is the basis of true thinking."
Read to the class her two examples of student creative writing in Chapter Two:
"At the Mouth of a Tidal Creek" on page 29
"A Moment on a Mountain Stream" on page 30
Week Two: Wish
Activity #1 - Dorit Winter suggests beginning this week with a biography "in which a child's wish (or dream, as this
sort of wish is sometimes called) determines the destiny of an individual." She suggests Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy.
High as a Hawk by T.A. Barron. This is the story of the youngest girl to ever summit Longs Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado, in 1905. She was eight years old.
Then give the children their first WISH composition
1. State the wish.
2. Describe in detail what you would do if the wish were granted.
3. Conclusion: Why do you think this is an important wish?
Activity #2 - Have students complete the Short Story Planning Guide
for a story of their own, a story where a wish plays a crucial role.
Dorit Winter writes in Chapter 3,
"The more integrated the entire week is, the more thorough the mood you can establish. Just remember, all of this has to be
happening on a seventh grade leve. There has to be plenty of blue in the mix, otherwise the children will rebel. So you must work hard on the
science of writing itself. That is the marvelous secret of this main lesson block. The content is
truly compelling; if properly harnessed, it will not lead to never-never land. Instead, it will carry you and your class
into hitherto unapproachable realms of soul experience.
"I say 'hither-to unapproachable' because hitherto the children were still entirely in this soul realm, and thus could not approach it,
and now that they can begin to approach such depths, they will not approach it unless coaxed. But in the seventh graders, 'the wishes
of the soul are sprinting' already, and already 'life grows more radiant... more arduous... more abundant...." Seventh grade souls are longing
(wishing) for an excuse to be serious. That is part of the explanation for their frenetic behavior; it is a masquerade. Under the masks of silly,
rowdy, gnawing behavior, is a soul, in need of something filling, something grand. Your weakest writers may
reveal astonishing depths of soul under the influence of a scientifically conceived incentive."
Activity #3 - Another wonderful biography for this week is
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman.
Activity #4 - Let students use stencils of human heads or faces, such as this faces in the crowd stencil
to do artwork about their main characters' thoughts, feelings, and wishes.
Activity #5 - Throughout the week continue to have students work on their creative short story. If they need a break, they can
continue to do 2D artwork related to their island with their gelatos, or begin to work
on creating their 3D model of their Imaginary Island to scale.
Week Three : Surprise
Activity #1 - Surprise the class!
I planned two surprise field trips for this week. One trip was to the public library to see some exotic animals and hear
a presentation from a naturalist. The other trip was to a pumpkin patch with a hay ride, corn maze, and so on.
Dorit Winter writes on page 44 a few important reminders:
"Should you decide to surprise them by, say, disguising yourself, simply do it. Do not talk about it, analyze it, explain it.
Or there may be an unexpected visitor or happening in the classroom that day. Just let it be. Just give them the experience,
and let the suspense around the event build. Even the next day, you need not return to the subject
of yesterday's 'event.' Let the surprise be.
"For the rest of the week, the challenge is: how to keep the surprises from being predictable. Again, it
is important to focus on the writing. It will be easier to immerse the children in the mood of SURPRISE if you have managed
to avoid calling the main lesson block 'Wish, Wonder and Surprise.' You may want to plan
one or more surprises for the seventh grade. How wonderful it would be if a clown could visit the class."
Activity #2 - Snowball Writing!
Have the children write the beginning to a story of something that happens on their island and then, instead
of providing the ending, have them trade stories so another child can devise an ending. Dorit Winter suggests, "Give them
some guidelines. The ending must come out of the story itself; it must be a surprise; one new character may be introduced..."
Activity #3 - A new composition assignment (where the author has full control over the story) such as
a character finding something unexpected, doing something unexpected, or doing something that one of the other characters doesn't
Activity #4 - Share with the group a short story with a surprise ending. I put several
in my eighth grade Short Story block. Perhaps
Of course, any story you pick now you won't be able to do next year, because the ending will no longer be a surprise! (For this block, I chose "The Necklace.")
Activity #5 - Students should wrap up this main lesson block by finishing their 3D scale models of their Imaginary Islands. Have a
Parent Expo where the models, the 2D artwork, and the collection of creative writing pieces can be displayed.
Writers' Workshops (Grammar and Word Study Exercises)
Again, for this we have always had the Montessori material in our classroom for Grammar and Word Study, and so
I will simply continue to use this material with students one-on-one as needed.
Montessori Research & Development:
Word Study Complete Set - $445.00
Grammar Symbol Nomenclature - $38.00
Plastic Grammar Symbols in Box - $90.90
Grammar Pencil Black - Noun - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Light Blue - Article - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Dark Blue - Adjective - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Red - Verb - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Green - Preposition - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Orange - Adverb - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Violet - Pronoun - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Pink - Conjunction - $4.49
Grammar Pencil Gold - Interjection - $4.49
Grammar Stencil - $5.00
Mandala Classroom Resources:
The Grammar Game - $99.00
Booster Set: Regular to Advanced Grammar Game - $18.00
Grammar Wall Chart Level 2 - $20.00
Creative Writing Activities - my "wishlist"
of activities I'd like to do from the wonderful book
Sing Me the Creation: A Creative Writing Sourcebook
by Paul Matthews.
NOTE: This is enough work for 7th and 8th grade, if not beyond.
A Personal Introduction
How this book came to be written; Renewing the ancient hearth; Inhibitions; Permissions; Playing;
How to use this book; Suggestions for group practice; The structure of this book; The four temperaments;
Earth, Water, Air and Fire; Image, sound movement; The Logos
The structure of this book: Exercise 1
Earth, Water, Air and Fire: Exercise 4
Image, sound, movement: Exercise 9a-e
Statement, Epiphanies, Memory, Paintings and photographs, Phantasy, Wondrous sight, Lying, Paradox,
Dreaming, Naming (1), Definition and characterization (1), Characterization through comparison, Simile,
Synesthesia, Blazonning, Metaphor, Personification, Language as picture or sculpture, Uttering the inner,
An ancient battle, Imagination, Our own names
Memory: Exercises 18, 19, 20, 23, 27
Lying: Exercises 39, 40, 41, 42
Definition and Characterization (1): Exercises 49, 50, 54, 55, 56, 58
Simile: Exercise 59
Metaphor: Exercises 67, 68, 69, 70, 71
Personification: Exercises 72, 73, 74
Uttering the Inner: Exercises 79, 81, 82
Question, Wondering, Response ability, Conversation, Jeopardy, Letters, The divided game, Bragging, Contraries, Riddles,
Jokes, Sacred dialogue, Oracles, Festivals
Question: Exercises 87, 88, 89, 90, 92, 93, 94
Response Ability: Exercises 97, 98, 99, 100, 101
Conversation: Exercises 102, 103
Jeopardy: Exercises 108, 109, 110
Letters: Exercises 111, 113
The Divided Game: Exercises 114, 115, 117, 118, 119
Contraries: Exercises 123 (Fortunately by Remy Charlip), 124, 125, 126
Riddles: Exercises 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133
Exclamation, Noises, New languages, Non sense, Alliteration, Rhyme, Tongue twisters, Tongue assisters, Naming (2), Sound sense,
Vowels, Consonants, Fictionary, Translation, Chracterization (2)
Exclamation: Exercises 135, 137, 138, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146
Noises: Exercises 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155
New Languages: Exercises 156 (Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis), 157, 158, 160
Non Sense: Exercises 165 (Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll), 166, 168, 169, 170, 171
Alliteration: Exercises 172, 173
Rhyme: Exercises 175, 176, 177
Tongue Twisters: Exercise 179
Tongue Assisters: Exercises 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186
Vowels: Exercise 190
Fictionary: Exercises 192, 193, 194
Translation: Exercises 199, 200 and 201 (with the Structured Word Inquiry teacher)
Characterization (2): Exercise 204
Command, Magic, Fire, Movement, Grammar and gymnastics, What is a sentence?, Verse, Alliterative verse, Motion
and emotion, Rhythm, Meter, Verse and the universe, Prose, Personal style, Sentenced by sentences?, Chance, The stream of consciousness,
Command: Exercises 207, 208, 209, 211, 212, 214
Magic: Exercises 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 222
Grammar and gymnastics: Exercises 229, 230, 231
What is a Sentence?: Exercises 232, 233, 236, 237, 240, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247
Motion and Emotion: Exercise 252
Rhythm: Exercises 253, 254, 256
Meter: Exercises 258, 260
Prose: Exercise 263
Personal Style: Exercises 265, 274
Sentenced by Sentences?: Exercises 275, 276
Chance: Exercises 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282
The Stream of Consciousness: Exercises 283, 284
Free Verse: Exercise 285
Story, Fable, Tall stories, Dream, Fairy tale, The creation story, Before the beginning, In the beginning, The act
of creation, The four elements, Ending where we began
Fable: Exercise 288
Fairy Tale: Exercises 292, 293, 294
Before the Beginning: Exercise 295
In the Beginning: Exercises 298, 299, 300
The overarching structure of Sing Me
the Creation: A Creative Writing Sourcebook is the four types of sentences: the statement, the question, the exclamation, and the command. In contrast, his second book,
Words in Place: Reconnecting with Nature through Creative Writing is "structured around a nine-week full-time course, Working with Imagination," that he
developed while teaching at Emerson College. He writes, "The shape of the book is basically a progress through the different
realms of nature -- from mineral to plant to animal to human." The book is designed with nine weeks of writing activities for a group:
Week 1: Opening Our Senses to Each Other and the World
Week 2: Earth, Water, Air and Fire
Week 3: Turning a New Leaf
Week 4: The Flowering Garden and Our Responses to it
Week 5: The Animals in Nature
Week 6: Giving Voice to the Animals
Week 7: Being Human
Week 8: The Story We Belong To
Week 9: Walking Back the Way We Came
Both of the books by Paul Matthews are strongly anthroposophical.