Tag Archives: teaching creative writing

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 2

Lesson 2

Play music as the kids come into the classroom. After they are seated, turn it off, and discuss what the music makes them think of.

Turn on another type of music, and have the kids write about whatever comes into their minds for the next 10 minutes (free write).

Some good pieces for this:

  1. The Swan (Saint-Saëns)
  2. Mbube (Lady Blacksmith Mambazo)
  3. Waltz of the Flowers (Windham Hill Guitarists)
  4. From a Raindrop to a River (Autumn’s Child)
  5. Forever in Love (Kenny G)

Did the music make you feel happy or sad?

Read homework; talk about editing. Talk about how many different story ideas came from one prompt.

What happens when you mix music with an object or picture in your story?

Play one more piece, and have the students write, mixing music with one other element.


Choose music at home to listen to while writing. See if it influences your mood at all.

Pick another topic as a class: (e.g. write about your pet – could be completely off the wall, a true story, or anywhere in between.)

Post from the Past: Creative Writing Supplement, Incorporating Objects

Yesterday, I posted my first lesson for Multi-Sensory Creative Writing. In addition to doing all of the things suggested in lesson one, I also gave each student a hand-out that listed several ways to incorporate objects into a story. The kids and I had a blast doing this lesson! Be sure to post any stories or comments regarding the list!

Seven ways in which you can incorporate objects into your writing.

  1. Character has a flashback after seeing an object.
  2. Ordinary object with an extraordinary purpose (clicking a ball-point pen stops time).
  3. Object is important somehow, but main character doesn’t realize it yet.
  4. Try mixing two or more unrelated objects (dissimilar elements).
  5. Character has an obsession with an object (or collection of objects).
  6. Plot revolves around the object.
  7. Follow an object through its lifetime.

For your convenience, I am uploading the list as a Word doc: Using Objects.

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 1

Since our studio doesn’t give homeschool music classes through the summer, I joined a new co-op to keep my son busy these last three months. I’ve always wanted to teach a creative writing class, and the co-op members graciously allowed me to give it a whirl. I tried to create activities that would work across all age groups, and I left it to the parents to decide how much actual writing their children would be doing. (For instance, I only made my second-grader write three sentences per assignment, but some of the older children wrote much more.) Anyway, I think this lesson plan would work for any age, or any size group. Let me know how it goes if you try any of the activities. I know that we had a blast, but I would love your feedback as well!

Lesson 1

The first activity of the day should always be easy and short – an icebreaker to get their minds to switch into writing mode without putting a lot of pressure on them.

Activity #1

Take a bunch of random pictures (internet, magazines, photos) to class. Try to vary the content type. Have the class members each choose a picture that appeals to them or kindles an idea in their minds.

After choosing a picture, have them write a few sentences based on something that it suggests to them.

Note #1

To keep the pressure low, I remind them that we won’t be reading this assignment out loud. I only ever read assigned homework aloud, never anything they’ve written on the spot, unless they volunteer. And I never announce the authors unless they want to take credit for their work.

Note #2

Instruct the students to write as it comes into their heads, even if they think it is poorly worded. They can always edit later; the hard part for most people is getting words on paper. When they are finished writing, they can reread it with a particular focus on one editing issue at a time. For instance, read through the piece once checking for punctuation errors, then reread again with a focus on spelling errors, etc. Having a process helps keep them from sitting and staring at their papers, wondering where to start (in both the writing and editing stages).

Activity #2

Take a bunch of random objects from around your house to class. The reason they should use objects (or artifacts) to jump-start their writing is to give them ideas that they wouldn’t come up with on their own.

As a class, talk about some of the ideas that are triggered by pictures and objects. Write them on the chalkboard.

You can also get ideas from memories that are triggered by scents, feelings that you associate with certain types of music, etc. (I also took in some spices, candles, and colognes for this class.)

As a class, talk about some of the memories that are triggered by certain scents or feelings that are associated with music.

If you have time, have the class write for a few minutes, basing their stories on an object that they choose.

Homework Assignment #1

Choose an object, picture, scent, or any combination, and write a story based on your ideas. For this assignment, individual students can choose whatever they want and write about whatever they want. They may choose from what you brought to class or from their own homes.

Homework Assignment #2

As a class, choose one more topic to write about. For this assignment, all students will write a story based on the same object, picture, etc. The purpose of this exercise is to see how diverse the stories can be even while triggered by the same thing. For instance, the class may choose an ink pen or a picture of the Amazon. Everyone writes something that includes the element in their piece. Read aloud next week, and experience the variety!


Choose more than one element on which to base a story. If the above assignment included both the ink pen and the picture of the Amazon, the students would have to be more creative in their creation of the story. The more dissimilar the elements, the more creative they will have to be.

For Fun

Have each student bring an object to class from their own rooms. In class, they can switch objects with each other and write a few sentences based on someone else’s belonging. This would be a great follow-up activity for your next class.

If you would prefer to download Lesson 1 as a Word file, here it is: Multi Sensory Creative Writing Lesson 1

A prompt disguised as exercise

Take a walk, but pretend you are anywhere but where you are or anyone but whom you are. Try to see your town or neighborhood through fresh eyes, as your character would see it. Try to think your character’s thoughts as you go along. You might notice something you never have before, or find a fascinating new twist for your WIP.

A prompt disguised…

I’ve been collecting my prompt ideas in a folder, and lately I’ve noticed a trend. I like to disguise my prompts as other things, such as exercising, vegging out, and sleeping. I’ve decided to post them for you, one at a time on Mondays, at least until I run out of ideas…

I hope you enjoy the first one – A Prompt Disguised as Shopping!

Go to a store where they sell used items, such as a resale shop or an antique mall. Look around for articles of inspiration. Even if you frequent antique stores, look at things you normally wouldn’t. What is the story behind the old typewriter? Did it belong to someone who changed the world, or someone who died without ever having the courage to send in their memoir? If you find something that sparks loads of creativity, buy it and keep it in your writing area. Or maybe you will find an object that becomes significant to your main character. Keep it as a souvenir to represent all the work and sweat that you poured into your book. You may even put up a little shelf, and collect an item for each book you write.

Creative Writing and Flying

Thank you!

First of all, I just wanted to say that I was blown away by all of your great responses to my previous post, Creative Writing and Crying. Anyone who is interested in help with getting your child to write, check out the comments on this page! I’m serious! These women were so very helpful. I haven’t gotten to try all of the techniques yet (he doesn’t do creative writing every day), but I am so looking forward to it. I will try to post about anything that inspires him. I’m so thankful that I am able to homeschool because it enables me to try all of these ideas and methods until I find something that fits.

The new routine:

Lately, I have been trying to give him a heads-up about what he should be thinking about, and then giving him plenty of time later when it actually comes to getting the ideas down. I have been just conversationally talking him through his ideas and jotting them down for him. (He hates the actual physical process of writing too, so I think that having to do that and brainstorm ideas at the same time really drives him over the edge.) So I write them down, help him figure out how to organize his ideas, and then he copies what we come up with onto his worksheet. (That way, he gets practice writing too; I’m just not making him write and think at the same time yet.)

Cool new “trick:”

Yesterday, I had a nifty idea. He loves to write emails to his dad and my sister. By “write” I mean dictate. I’ve noticed that when dictating emails, he goes into this professional narrative-sounding voice. It’s so bizarre, but fun to behold! Anyway, yesterday he had brainstormed a bunch of details about a place he knows well. (He chose a former babysitter’s house.) I took the opportunity to show him how to make a Word Web. All of that went fine, but when it came to constructing sentences from his ideas, he was at a loss. So it occurred to me to have him write an email to his aunt describing his babysitter’s house. It worked like magic! He went from being mentally stuck, to dictating so fast that I couldn’t keep up (and I was typing)!

The interview:

After success with the description assignment, I pulled the same trick out of my hat when we discovered that he needed to write an interview. I actually had him dictate an email to Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House books. Here are the questions he came up with:

How did you write all those books?

Did you write it with an ink pen?

How did you get those books to look like that?

Do you ever write other kinds of books?

I really liked his questions, and I told him I would actually send the email to her if I could find her email address. (I really hope I can, but I haven’t looked yet).

NO INTERNET Thursdays:

Update on yesterday’s post: I got online a couple of times yesterday: to deposit two checks, to print a cursive handwriting sheet, to allow Ian to play on SpellingCity, and right before I went to bed, I just had to check my WordPress stats. That last item is the only one I feel guilty about. I did write more than 2400 words for NaNoWriMo yesterday, and Ian was able to accomplish all of his schoolwork, but other than that, I didn’t get a lot done. The television was on before I even woke up yesterday due to my husband being home sick. I can’t think at all when the TV is on; right now I’m holed up in my son’s room. He’s still asleep, but at least it’s quiet in here. The rest of the house is shut up for the winter, so unless I want to write in one of the bathrooms, this room is my only choice. (The kitchen is attached and pretty open to the living room.) So not such a productive day, but I’m already looking forward to next Thursday! I may have to revamp a little though because I had so many emails, blog comments, forum responses, etc. It’s already 8am, and I haven’t caught up from yesterday yet. Maybe stay off the internet during the day only? Not sure. I’ll try it this way a few more times I think. Jesse’s home today too, otherwise, I might have been caught up by now.

Multiple Perspectives

Here’s a new creative writing prompt, from me to you. Enjoy it!

Write a scene involving three or more people. Now write it again, one time for each person involved in the scene. Write it from each perspective. Get inside their heads. Now write it from the perspective of a deaf bystander. Now write it from the perspective of a five-year-old. Now write it from the perspective of a wise old man who is very good (or bad) at reading between the lines.

Creative Writing with Newspapers

I love creative writing prompts. For the last ten years or so, I have been trying to hone my writing skills in preparation for “becoming a writer.” I already write plenty of nonfiction, but I’m very intersted in writing Christian fiction someday, as well. I love reading books about writing, but the only way a person can really improve their craft is by just doing it. The usual way that I have practiced is through creative writing prompts. They’re great fun, they really get your mind rolling, and they just may spark an idea that will grow into something bigger. Today’s prompt is mainly for writers who already have a story simmering in the back of their mind, or maybe they are in the middle of a work in progress (WIP). I hope you enjoy it; here it is!

News happens to everybody. Sometimes expected, sometimes not, sometimes ironic, sometimes tragic. Pick up today’s newspaper and read the headlines. Think of a way to make one of them affect the protagonist of your WIP. It might just open up new possibilities for a faltering story.

Creative Writing Assignment for Pairs

I realized that it’s been a long time since I posted a creative writing prompt. Our co-op isn’t meeting for classes anymore; it sort of fizzled out when school started up. Everyone’s too busy. As a result, I haven’t been creating any more writing exercises. Something I’ll have to remedy because I really like doing it! Here’s a quick one that our class never tried. Let me know how it goes!


Pair up. What is your favorite book or story (could be a movie or video game storyline)? What do you like about it?

Who is your favorite character? Why do you like that character?

Exchange information with your partner and write: what happens when your favorite character visits the world of your partner’s
favorite character?

Homeschoolers can use this by placing their characters in the world of their mom’s favorite character or that of a sibling. Alternatively, they could try switching other elements, such as plot, villains, best friends, etc. This is a good “what if” exercise for reluctant writers. It allows them to just be silly and have fun!

Multi-Sensory Creative Writing: Scent

Scent-related exercise: Think of a scent that brings back strong memories. For me, the smell of waffle cones or funnel cakes always
remind me of Six Flags. Tall grass reminds me of my backyard in West Sullivan. Peppermint, my grandmother’s garden. Freshly baked bread, my grandmother’s kitchen. The smell of Bactine reminds me of the time I fell off my bike and scraped up my elbow. After you think of a scent that means something to you, use it to write a story. It could be your own story, or a story of your creation. You could use it as a flashback moment, or an initial moment in which the strong scent becomes forever etched in the memory of your character. Use the scent to reveal something about your character’s personality. Why is she the way she is? Does the story behind the scent reveal something about her history?

Next, find something in your house that has a scent. A candle, some Ben Gay, almond extract, honey mustard, anything you can find. Now take that scent, and drop it into one of your existing stories. Again, you should use this technique to reveal something about your character.