This article has helpful ideas and breakage of strategies required for the development of Creative Writing skills and elementary and Junior School level.
A long-winded Introduction:
(Segments Taken from Journal of Educational Research 2009 From the Dept. Of Education IUB, Pakistan)
In many Pakistani schools young children rarely get opportunities or the choices to express their ideas and creative thoughts in writing. They are exposed to either tracing the letter formation, copying from the blackboard, text writing, and filling workbooks/sheets. Some schools claim that children do creative writing; they write on selected topics given by teachers; for example, a rainy day, my family, my school and others. Teachers provide the main ideas and some key words to the children to write and produce their work in a single attempt. Such teaching practice is the requirement in the school syllabus whereby, teachers are required to introduce essay writing to the children and prepare them to reproduce the same in examinations on given topics in the syllabus. Edwards and Springate (1995) contend that children learn by ‘doing’. ‘Doing’ is about undertaking meaningful activities which are relevant to children’s lives. Classroom observations show that children’s writing is seldom related to their real or personal life experiences or contextual situations. Children who are imaginative expressionists and good story tellers have little or nothing to say through their writing, hence perform a routine task with little or no enjoyment and interest. How Literature Views this Area of Study Creative writing implies imaginative tasks such as writing poetries, stories and plays (Harmer, 2001). In the early years, young children are not expected to write stories, plays, and poetries in a systematic manner as adult writers do. The teacher often is the scribe for young learners. Godwin and Perkins (1998 & 2002) claim that young children entering early year’s settings bring with them a vast array of experiences and knowledge of print which they observe around them. All these experiences require an environment. Riley and Reedy (2003) contend that in any early year’s environment there should be allocated spaces for literacy work. A specific writing area must be identified and furnished with all the relevant materials such as ready made blank booklets, draft papers, markers and pens. This works as a stimulus for children to write as well as it helps in satisfying an inner urge of theirs to be able to place their thoughts in print. The interpretation of the term ‘writing’ is sometimes confusing. Kane and Ogdon (1993) explained writing as a process which is true and yet misleading; true in a manner that it is a rational activity that involves thinking; by cognizant efforts or simply through intuition. It is misleading also because the term ‘process’ indicates neat and well defined steps to be attempted in a sequence. From both views, the ‘process of writing’ is emphasized, although there is not one set way to follow while learning to write. Hence, the idea of expressing creativity or communicating one’s own thoughts through writing is to produce something different, unique and new from others because writing involves one’s own thinking, feelings, emotions and viewing the world from one’s own perspective. Furthermore, creative writing is not only what students write as per their choices; rather, when they write, they are involved in a continuous thinking process and become thinkers. De Bono (cited in Curtis, 1998) affirms this view; Children can be brilliant thinkers…. A child enjoys thinking. He enjoys the use of his mind just as he enjoys the use of his body as he slides down helter- skelter or bounces on a trampoline… If children can always think so well at this stage, then surely the long years of education must develop this ability to a high level. Not so. At the end of education, there has been no improvement in the thinking ability of children; in fact there has actually been deterioration. Conversely, the situation in Pakistan is more like what Harmer (2001) shares, that is teachers act as ‘controllers’ in the classroom setting, where they transmit their knowledge to their students. This may also imply expressing creativity in writing guided by adults. Vazir (2007) sheds light on contextual realities in Pakistan and elsewhere, where students’ voices, which are rooted in their emotions, feelings and creative thoughts, are seldom heard because young children are considered immature. The fact she emphasizes is that young children are often referred to as blank slates, on which adults write according to their wishes and thoughts. These contextual realities have implications on children’s writing in early years and throughout their education where the element of creativity is basically ignored. Therefore, what is required here is the shift in teachers’ role that is, from controller to facilitator, who provides a scaffold for children, when they experience difficulty in writing. Gradually the teacher removes that scaffold and provides children the space to build their potentials and practice creative writing comfortably.
Creative writing is a genre of writing that emphasizes imagination, original ideas, and artistic expression. It covers various forms such as poetry, fiction, and drama, and often has a purpose of entertaining, inspiring, and conveying emotions.
Creative writing skills refer to the techniques and abilities used to express ideas and emotions through writing. This can include elements such as:
- Imagination and originality
- Character development
- Word choice and imagery
- Figurative language
- Point of view
- Tone and mood.
Developing creative writing skills requires practice and study, as well as a willingness to experiment and take risks in one’s writing.
Creative Writing At Elementary Level:
Encouraging creative writing at this very early stage is a master stroke to prepare them early to have an imagination to create.
Creative writing skills are important for children of all ages, including preschoolers. Developing these skills at a young age can help children develop strong communication and literacy skills, as well as foster creativity and imagination.
There are several ways to encourage creative writing skills in preschoolers, including:
- Encourage storytelling:
One of the simplest ways to encourage creative writing skills in preschoolers is to encourage them to tell stories. This can be done through verbal storytelling, drawing, or even acting out a story. This helps children understand the basic elements of storytelling, such as characters, plot, and setting.
- Provide writing materials:
Giving preschoolers access to writing materials such as pencils, crayons, and paper can help them develop their writing skills. This can be as simple as providing a blank notebook for them to draw and write in or encouraging them to make their own books.
- Use writing prompts:
Writing prompts can help preschoolers develop their writing skills by providing them with a starting point for their stories. These prompts can be as simple as a word or phrase, or as complex as a picture or a question.
- Play word games:
Word games such as Scrabble, Boggle, or Hangman can help preschoolers develop their vocabulary and spelling skills, which are essential for creative writing.
- Encourage reading:
Reading to preschoolers and encouraging them to read on their own can help them develop their writing skills. Reading a variety of books, including poetry and non-fiction, can expose them to different forms of writing and inspire them to write their own stories.
- Encourage imagination and creativity: Encourage children to be curious and let their imagination run wild. This can be done through activities such as drawing, painting, or even building with blocks.
- Provide positive feedback:
Give children positive feedback on their writing, whether it’s a complete story or just a few words. Encouraging them to continue with their writing and praising them for their efforts can help boost their confidence and motivation.
Creative Writing at Junior School Level:
Creative Writing at Junior School level comes in with many hurdles mainly when English is your second Language. I have broken down some general stages for teachers to introduce creative writing at Junior School Level.
- Sentence Structures
- Think-Pair-Share Activity
- Pictorial Instructed Writing Prompts
- Sentence Structures:
By using a variety of teaching methods and incorporating different activities, you can help students understand sentence structures and improve their writing skills.
Here are some of the most common sentence structure formulas:
- Simple sentence: Subject + Verb
Example: “The cat meows.”
- Compound sentence: Two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet)
Example: “The cat meows loudly, and the dog barks in response.”
- Complex sentence: One independent clause and one or more dependent clauses
Example: “The cat meows loudly, because it wants food.”
- Compound-Complex sentence: Two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses
Example: “The cat meows loudly, because it wants food, and the dog barks in response, as if to say, ‘I want food too.'”
- Imperative sentence: A sentence that gives a command or makes a request
Example: “Meow loudly.”
- Interrogative sentence: A sentence that asks a question
Example: “Why does the cat meow loudly?”
- Exclamatory sentence: A sentence that shows strong emotion
Example: “What a loud meowing the cat is doing!”
- Declarative sentence: A sentence that makes a statement or declaration
Example: “The cat is meowing loudly.”
It’s important to note that these are just basic formulas and that sentence structure can vary greatly depending on the context, style, and tone of writing. The ability to use a variety of sentence structures effectively is a crucial aspect of writing.
Here are some tips for teaching sentence structures at the junior school level:
Start with simple sentences:
Begin by teaching students the basic structure of a sentence: a subject, a verb, and an object. Encourage students to create simple sentences that clearly express a thought.
Use visual aids:
Use charts, diagrams, or examples to help students understand the different parts of a sentence and how they fit together.
Practice writing complete sentences: Encourage students to write complete sentences, and provide opportunities for them to practice writing their own sentences.
Use sentence combining exercises:
Sentence combining exercises can help students understand how different sentence structures can be used to express different ideas.
Introduce different sentence structures:
As students become more comfortable with simple sentence structures, introduce them to more complex structures, such as compound and complex sentences.
Emphasize clarity and coherence:
When teaching sentence structures, emphasize the importance of writing sentences that are clear and easy to understand.
Encourage students to revise their writing and make changes to improve their sentences. This helps them understand the importance of sentence structure and how it affects the meaning of their writing.
Use varied activities:
Incorporate a variety of activities, such as writing sentences, completing sentence combining exercises, and playing sentence structure games, to keep students engaged and motivated.
2. Think Pair Share Activity:
Think-Pair-Share is a collaborative learning strategy that encourages students to think critically, share their ideas, and engage in active discussion. Here’s how it can be used to lead to creative writing:
Start with a prompt or question:
Give students a writing prompt or question related to the topic you want them to write about. For example, “Imagine you are a superhero, what kind of powers do you have and how do you use them to save the world?”
Ask students to spend a few minutes thinking about the prompt or question on their own. Encourage them to jot down their ideas, thoughts, and possible answers.
Have students pair up with a partner and take turns sharing their ideas with each other. Encourage them to listen actively and ask questions.
Whole class share:
After the pairs have had time to share, bring the class back together and ask for volunteers to share their ideas with the whole group. Encourage discussion and encourage students to build on each other’s ideas.
Once the class has had time to share and discuss, give students some quiet writing time to use their ideas to start writing their story. Encourage them to be creative and use their imagination.
This activity helps students to think critically, engage in active discussion, and build on each other’s ideas, leading to more creative and well-rounded writing.
3. Pictorial Instructed Writing Prompts:
Here are some instructed story writing prompts with pictures for junior school level students:
A picture of a castle:
Write a story about a prince or princess who lives in the castle. What kind of adventures do they have, who do they meet, and what do they learn from their experiences?
A picture of a spaceship:
Write a story about a team of astronauts who travel in the spaceship. Where do they go, what do they see, and what challenges do they face on their journey?
A picture of a forest:
Write a story about a group of animals who live in the forest. What kind of animals are they, how do they interact with each other, and what kind of adventures do they have?
A picture of a city skyline:
Write a story about a superhero who protects the city from danger. Who are the villains, what kind of powers does the superhero have, and what kind of challenges do they face?
A picture of a park:
Write a story about a family who spends the day at the park. What kind of activities do they do, who do they meet, and what kind of experiences do they have?
A picture of a river:
Write a story about a group of friends who go on a rafting trip down the river. What kind of obstacles do they face, what do they learn from the experience, and what kind of memories do they make?
A picture of a beach:
Write a story about a group of friends who spend the day at the beach. What kind of activities do they do, who do they meet, and what kind of experiences do they have?
These prompts provide students with a visual starting point for their writing, helping to engage their imagination and creativity. Encourage students to add their own details and ideas to the stories, making them unique and personal.
Free Creative Writing Prompt Worksheets:
In conclusion, creative writing in junior school is a valuable tool for student development. It helps students to improve their language skills, encourages imagination and creativity, builds confidence, enhances critical thinking, and provides an outlet for self-expression. Additionally, creative writing can aid in the development of emotional intelligence and storytelling skills. These benefits make creative writing an important aspect of the junior school curriculum that should be fostered and encouraged. By providing students with opportunities to engage in creative writing, teachers can help them to develop important skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.