This workshop from Seven Stories can be used to start a imaginative writing session with your class. Think of an object, concentrate on a place, describe how it feels and how it makes you feel and the next thing you know your story has begun.
This workshop is led by Debbie Beeks from Seven Stories in Newcastle upon Tyne. Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children's Books
A lesson plan for teachers to help develop writing skills and start a creative writing project for a defined audience. Students will research online news stories and create their own news report.
Key Stage:KS 2&3 English
Overview:This lesson can be used to:
- Start a creative writing project for a defined audience
- Develop writing skills including narratives, describing settings, characters, dialogue and action
- Develop research and discussion skills
- Support pupils to assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing
The process demonstrated in the short videos provides a useful way into children mining their own memories for imaginative writing. You can either show the films one at a time asking your class or group follow the instructions, or use the films just for your own reference, adapting your delivery of the technique to suit your own pupils' needs.
Show the Introduction video.
Reinforce the idea that the one subject matter everyone is an expert on is themselves.
Students are tasked to think of a favourite place, and to think of one object they associate with that location – the more unusual or 'random', the better.
Share their results and discuss what their choices say about themselves as characters.
Students are tasked with walking around the room visualising their imagined place, trying to 'see' every detail of it. At a given signal, the pupils freeze and, when asked, describe what they are looking at. An alternative approach for a seated classroom environment could be for the pupils to mime putting on a virtual reality headset, closing their eyes and 'seeing' different parts of their chosen place by turning their heads.
Pupils continue exploring their locations, thinking first about the sense impressions; temperature, sounds etc. they perceive, then about the feelings and the emotional response the place produces.
Recording your thoughts
Pupils are given a sheet of A4 paper and asked to record the object they thought of during the 'getting started' section. They can choose a preferred way of notating their responses to the object; prose, spider diagram, labelled drawing etc.
Recording your thoughts continued
Pupils record their imagined place; a physical description, plus their impressions reactions to it. Again they can use their preferred methods of notation.
Ask pupils to share their results.
Pupils discuss their methods of recording their ideas and the comparisons with the approach of Robert Westall are reinforced.
20 years on
Pupils fold away their A4 sheet and imagine they are at a reunion in 2035. They describe what they have become and their reactions to what they recorded in 2015.
Robert Westall film
Finally, show the pupils the Robert Westall film. In this film the same group of KS3 pupils involved in the workshop discover part of the Robert Westall archive at Seven Stories.
Ask your group if they can recall any books they have read that were based on the author's memories of their own childhood.