Is your child a budding Dickens or Wordsworth? Are you wondering how to fuel her creative energy? Here’s a list of creative writing ideas to encourage the writer in your child.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
Children have limitless imagination. Their creativity knows no bounds. So, as a parent, how do you guide and channelise your child’s creative urges? To begin with, introduce your child to creative writing activities. Here’s a collection of interesting and exciting activities to keep your child engaged.
Get your child to cut out pictures of people, animals or scenes from various magazines and newspapers and stick them in an album. These will be the characters for her story. Then, let her assign names to the characters and decide the roles they will play in the story. The next step for her would be to invent a setting or locale for the story. After this will be the most important part – weaving the plot around the characters and the locale. Voila! She is ready to spin her tale now and pen it down in her album.
Choose a familiar story for your child. It could be a fable, fairy tale or even a chapter from abridged versions of classics such as Charles Dicken’s ‘Oliver Twist’ or Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’. Then your child can pull out the dialogues from the story, paraphrase them in his own words and write them down on tiny strips of paper. If he is good at drawing, he can do sketches, or else, he can stick appropriate pictures along different rows in an album, following the sequence of the scene. Then he can insert speech bubbles above each picture. Finally, he can paste the strips of paper inside the speech bubbles. There! His comic strip is ready.
Go in for a story your child hasn’t read or heard so far. Provide the opening for her. Ask her to develop the story based on the opening. She can choose to add new characters and create a story on her own. This can even work the other way – you can provide the ending of a story and ask her to imagine what would have led to that ending.
Short-list a familiar story for your child, say, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘The fox and the grapes’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Encourage your child to come up with his own version of the familiar piece and write it down. He can introduce new characters, alter the plot, modify the personality of the characters, or even change the ending. Let him give his creativity a free rein and come up with an amazing tale of his own!
Let your child choose two familiar stories. Then, let her mix up the characters and plot, and come up with her very own story. For example, she can fuse ‘Aladdin and the magic lamp’ and ‘Cinderella’ to evolve a new story. Who knows, just as the genie jumped out from the lamp, a magical tale might jump out from your child’s little head! Before her imagination is snuffed out, she can record it in her ‘Fusion story book’.
How about a cheetah, an eagle, a banyan tree, a coin, or for that matter, anything under the sun reeling out its autobiography? Of course, they would need a spokesperson – who else, but your little creative writer! Get him to choose anything that he wants to write on and come up with mini autobiographies.
Tired of answering your curious little one’s umpteen questions – the whys and the wherefores? Well, you can tap that curiosity of your child and evolve an interesting creative writing activity. Get her to go wild with her imagination and write her ‘spiels’ on topics such as, ‘How an elephant got its trunk’, ‘How a zebra got its stripes’, or ‘How the sun turned hot’. Encourage her to use her sense of humour and spin hilarious yarns; you can all have a good laugh reading aloud her story during family bonding sessions.
Encourage your child to maintain a journal and jot down her observations in it every day. Real life happenings, newspaper reports, books she reads, films she watches – all these can serve as prompts for her diary entries. A simple report of a burglary in a daily can be translated into a ‘whodunit’ by her! Or, a portrayal in a film can be the inspiration for character analysis. Apart from serving as a creative activity, journalling can also help your child develop into an emotionally mature person. For, it will lead to self-introspection and contemplation.
Not just narrating stories, even penning the script for short plays can be an entertaining creative writing activity for your child. You can plan puppet shows and skits for family gatherings, and prepare the props. Then, you can get your child to write the script for these. The exercise of portraying the characters, deciding the setting, sketching the plot and writing out the dialogues (even monologues and asides, if necessary), is sure to bring a lot of fun to your child. Let him also add details such as background score, title music, and lighting effects. When the show is put up, the applause that it draws will surely bring a big smile to your child’s face.
How can we forget good old poems when we list out creative writing activities? They can be the best bet when it comes to imaginative play with words. Haikus, limericks, nonsense verse, free verse, rhymes – your child can have his pick from the various forms of poetry. All you need to do is supply him with stimulants and prompts. Pictures, photographs, a set of rhyming words, specific themes, a couplet, opening lines of a poem – all these can serve the purpose. You can even play a game where one sibling writes one line of the poem and the other comes up with the next line.
With these activities, you can surely nurture your child's creativity.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj