5 Ways to Incorporate Creative Writing

five_ways_to_incorporate_creative_writingYou’d think, really you would with all the books I read, I would enjoy writing. Truth be told, I like sharing; that’s why I blog. But, writing – writing for the sake of writing – writing to tell a story? That’s a little more intimidating. The mere idea of sitting down to flesh out an entire novel scares me. All those details, plot twists, and unearthing a satisfying ending? I’m tired just thinking about it. As I’ve started to encourage creative writing in my children, I’ve come to realize perhaps I am thinking a little too hard. I need to start off with something small and work my way up to ‘bigger’ projects. Take one moment at a time and simply enjoy the process.

Over the years our family has incorporated a few creative ideas to encourage a love of writing in our home. Some you’ve already heard of; some you might already be doing; and others are just fun to explore!

Family Mailboxes

Who doesn’t like to receive mail? Each of our children received their own ‘mailbox’. We taught our kids how to write letters, post mail, and to respond within a reasonable amount of time to keep the fun going.
As a bonus, we helped each of our children create their own letterhead, bought them rubber postage stamp sets (to use in place of real stamps), and boxes of envelopes. Seeing our children become excited to both give and receive letters was such a blessing. It’s great to see them look for ways to bless the other members of the family.

Letters to Friends

Pen pals are fun, too! In the past, we’ve written letters to family members, friends, and online acquaintances. There are even websites you can work through to help your children get connected with others who are looking for a pen pal.

Dante’s Wardrobe

A few years back we ran a series on this fun, creative writing technique. Dante’s Wardrobe consisted of having our children create an ‘alternate’ personality for themselves; each person in our family picked a character they wanted to be. For the next learning year we wrote to each other, left clues for each other, and made presents for each other, based on the character we had chosen.
This helped our children think outside the box and find imaginative ways to tell about themselves. Each year we did this, we picked an entirely new character and explored new options.

Journaling

Journaling has allowed my children to write down their personal stories, poems, and thoughts without the fear of anyone else reading. We usually have scads of notebooks strewn about the house for them to use. However, we also have dedicated writing journals.
At one point we even set the children up with their own blog! Writing in this manner was especially fun for our kids and they loved the feedback from the few readers they had, besides mom and pop.

Writing Prompts

Occasionally, I have been known to throw out a writing prompt as part of our homeschool lessons. I try to make the topics something our children will want to write about. We have personified stained glass windows, asked what pirate name best suits us, and explained battle plans for attempting to conquer foreign lands.
Our prompts are generally based on our history lessons. Each of us, mom included, has a personalized journal to write in. The idea is to use the prompts given (which are planned to be silly, yet thoughtful) and write for only three minutes; no more! Then we take a moment to read our prompt and see whose is the funniest, cutest, or most heartfelt.

It’s important to point out, while doing these activities, we parents aren’t checking for errors. The purpose of these exercises is to increase their love of writing, not to make sure they are writing correctly; that is where formal practice comes in. Using these five, easy writing ideas, we are cultivating a love of writing in our home. Enjoy the ideas, and go with the flow; this should be fun!

We’re curious… Which of the five ideas above would your family use most and why?

“And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs…”
Exodus 35:31-32

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Just How Important Is Nature Journaling?

How Important Is Nature Journaling?I enjoy the notion of nature journaling. Perusing other people’s gorgeous collections of art, admiring their hard work and artistic abilities is a hobby. Unfortunately, the minute I ask my children to pick up a pencil, all joy is lost. Which causes me to ask, just how important is nature journaling?

This is not something we started from infancy. This was not a mom hobby. Oh, I like looking. But I’m not one of those awesomely passionate moms who’ve been journaling for years and my children just naturally pick this up. That would be nice. No, I’ve only started having an appreciation for nature journaling in the last few years and my kiddos are still catching up.

I think our problem derived from a forced study of nature. “Here is a flower. Now draw it.” While I would attempt to coerce them into seeing the beauty of the flower – which wasn’t too hard – the moment I pointed to blank paper, this became another chore on their list. No longer was this fun and creative, it was homework.

Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion I should still carry our journals on trips as often as possible. I will make a point of taking time to stop for the purpose of journaling. But instead of forced participation, I will pull out my own and start to doodle. They are free to join in or simply enjoy God’s creation. If He leads, they will follow.

We’ve also adapted the notion of nature journaling to fit our needs. At times my children enjoy drawing, at others they would rather collect specimen and write about them. To this end, we carry tiny plastic bags which our children can glue into their journals with notations made beside each item. They collect flowers, seeds, sticks, and more. (Obviously this method does not work with creatures, but we take pictures of those and journal about them later.) With the freedom to choose their favored method, they are once again experiencing joy in this activity.

Whether or not our children choose to journal, I make a point of leading our children to God through His creation. I might not take time for a full lesson on the parts of a flower or the levels of a tide pool, but I am sure to express joy and awe in the colors God has chosen to use, the intricacy of the tiniest creatures, and the obvious design in everything. I am not nagging. This is not an assignment. This is true exploration and appreciation by leading my children to God.

I am inspired by the many women I see online, and in person, who take time to journal at every opportunity. We share joy in seeing all those lovely illustrations crafted by multitudes of creative children. Through God’s leading, we are trying to find our own way to nature journaling. It’s going to look unique to our family’s needs and that’s just perfect. Journaling needs to be God centered and open to His leading. What’s truly important is seeing Him.

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”
Psalm 104:24-25

Your Turn!: Do you like keeping a nature journal?

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Creative Writing: Exploring Fun!

Creative_Writing“First, I would disarm my opponent by sending in a herd of kittens. The distraction of abundant cuteness would allow me to slip into their city, filling their bread bowls with Nerds. After receiving my lovely gifts, the people would gladly lay down their weapons and surrender to me; their supreme ruler.”

Who says creative writing has to be serious? Who says it has to correspond to reality? Creative writing should be exactly that. Creative.

Creative writing has been a journey in our home. Af first, I would simply pick a topic out of thin air and have our children write a short essay. Needless to say, that didn’t work well. The kids were unmotivated by my choice of topics and, frankly, I had a hard time coming up with topics of interest.

This year, everything changed and we’re loving it!

What are we doing differently this year? We added creative writing as part of our history lesson! And, Mommy set a few guidelines. We each have a creative writing journal, mommy included. Instead of our writing assignments being open-ended, we are given five minutes to write; no more, no less.

By tying in our creative writing to our history lesson, mom no longer has to go searching for fun topics to explore; we are practically tripping over them. By mommy being involved, this becomes a fun, family activity (even a competition at times). By limiting our time, our children see this as a challenge and not a chore.

Here are some of the exciting assignments we’ve given:

  • Pretend you are a Persian stained glass window, describe yourself.
  • You are king of Upper Egypt, with plans to conquer your pesky neighbors to the North. Give me your battle plan.
  • You’re a nomad child, experiencing her first bath in the Nile River. Tell me how this feels.

Creative writing usually takes place after our history reading and map work, but before activities and projects. Our routine calls for writing assignments at least once a week, but often we do more. (This stuff is downright fun!) There are no limits. We’ve had everything from flying unicorns, Nerds, and Jedi knights make an appearance.

I should also point out: These are exercises in creative writing, not grammar lessons. I do not check their work for punctuation, grammar, spelling, or anything else. Our creative writing sessions are to encourage imagination and a love of writing.

This year, creative writing has taken on a whole new face. Our children love these exercises and can’t wait to hear what fun topic they’ll be exploring next. And, you know what? I’m having fun, too.

But, let me warn you. Look out for those flying unicorns. They definitely cause a lot of trouble!

🔔Time to Chime In: What part of your routine is dedicated to creative writing?

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