Just in case you’re wondering where I’ve disappeared to, and I’d feel extremely privileged if you did, I’ve been buried under a mountain of writing, including a children’s creative writing camp that I gave over the Easter holidays. The camp lasted for three days and took place at Southpaw Writing Studios.
I roped Southpaw’s artistic director Martin Fahy into helping me supervise the children and he rose to the task beautifully, particularly since a last minute booking meant that 11 children squeezed around his large table, with its brightly coloured table cloth.All of these children, bar one, had done camps with me before, which gave me quiet satisfaction. They ranged in age from eight to almost 13.
Here’s a flavour of what we did.
Day 1. Senses and Character
On the first day, we journeyed through the senses, describing unfortunate looking oranges and inventing life stories for interesting objects. Then the children created a character and did some method writing, doing actions as if they were their character such as walking or holding a pen, then describing what they did.
Day 2. Setting and Plot
Today was all about creating worlds, as the children created countries and tried to entice us to visit these countries with alluring descriptions. They particularly enjoyed describing celebrity bedrooms, and the others had to guess which celebrity’s bedroom they were describing.
Finally, the children created a Chinese Whispers story. Just like the game, the story would start in one place and finish somewhere completely different. They divided into groups of three. They started their own story, then continued a story started by the second person in the group and ended the story started by the third person in the group.
Day 3. Writing A Story
It was now time for the children to put their skills to good use and put together a story. Since it was Easter, I figured an egg themed story would be appropriate, and what egg is more famous than Humpty Dumpty. In their story, the children had to figure out what Humpty Dumpty was doing on that wall, how he came to have a great fall and whether all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men were in fact able to put Humpty together again.
The children went away clutching pieces of paper containing their full length stories, and a cover design for their story, in case it ever becomes a book. Result!