Monday, October 11, 2010

Creative Writing and Poetry Class

(My class. Two of the kids are missing in this picture, but I thought it was super cute!)

We had poetry class #3 today. It was amazing! I am so thrilled to be sharing this program with my homeschool kid friends!

So far, what we have learned has been back-boned by the ideas of Small World's Wordsmithery, with a nice healthy dose of my own ideas.

Wordsmithery; if you haven't already, please check it out (link here). The lessons she writes are easy to understand and complete all on their own. Anything you bring is a bonus that will bring more understanding of the material, but if you do nothing extra, you can consider Wordsmithery a group of lessons that your children will reference back to every time they write until they are in college.

First lesson:

(poems Keep a Poem in Your Pocket by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol)

What is creative writing? Fiction and nonfiction. What writing is made of (words). The kids favorite words. Making up your own nonsense words. The poem "The Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carol (which has a lot of nonsense words).

This class spawned some interesting discussions. When we were making up and defining our own words, for example, one little girl made up the word 'beautifulicious' and defined it in her own way. It was wonderful to see their creative minds come alive with the freedom of being able to use language so openly.

Second lesson:

(poem September by John Updike)

Parts of speech review. Nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Define these terms. Then use them to make sentences.

This was a little harder. Most of these kids could say what nouns and verbs were... but adverbs and adjectives are a little harder to pin down. Especially due to the changing nature of the words themselves. If you change the ending of many of the words, it changes the entire meaning of the word and thus which part of language it is. For example; take the sentences the quick fox and the fox ran quickly. In the quick fox the word 'quick' is a adjective used to describe the noun (fox), but in the fox ran quickly the word 'quickly' is an adverb, used to describe the verb 'ran'. This concept caught the kids out a few times... and that is on top of just the new ideas of parts of speech being so important in the first place. It was an AMAZING lesson, that was tons of fun... but the kids spent more time getting to know the definitions of the parts of speech, than the actual words that those definitions represented and I allowed them to run with that portion of the lesson because they seemed to be getting SO much out of it.

In the end, we made a table on the board in different colors, then I asked the kids to pick a color and a letter and I would add that letter to a column ("noun, the letter k!" and I would put a K in the Noun column). After we had all our letters in the columns, I had them choose words for each of those letters, and then we put them together in silly sentences: "The crazy lion ran carefully." and "The horse carefully skipped the gross noodles at dinner." and so on. You could imagine that this could go on for quite some time. ;)

Third lesson:

(poem Blood-Curdling Story by Shel Silverstein)

This was today. And what an amazing lesson it was! We were still reviewing parts of speech, but we also moved on to create more interesting sentences with the addition of synonyms, antonyms, and more interesting adjectives. I decided to take iPhone pictures of the board because the words the kids were coming up with were just brilliant!

First, I made up a simple sentence. "The girl read a book." and then I asked the children to help me make the sentence more interesting by adding adjectives and adverbs to the sentence. We ended up with two totally different sentences (above). We chose one, and continued to work with it, using synonyms of the nouns and verbs we had chosen (below):

I continued the color coding (although it is hard to tell here, but there are 5 different colors on the board) to help them identify the parts of speech visually. This really helped when I would pop little review questions on them from the last lesson. And they thought it was great fun to watch me use every pen on the white board. lol!

Finally, we took a simple sentence from a Wordsmithery example and we expanded on that. After this, I wrote down 5 examples on the board of simple sentences, and had each child pick one and expand on it on their own in their journals.

We talked a little bit about a thesaurus and how you can find synonyms and antonyms for your favorite words there, but considering I didn't have one in hand, that is something that has to be reviewed again next week.

I can't say enough great things about this class. Really. The backbone is strong, the children are enthusiastic and curious, not to mention excited about writing. It is just such a perfect way to start my week each week!



SmallWorld at Home said...

I can't tell you how awesome it is to see Wordsmithery be used like this! Thanks so much!

Val in the Rose Garden said...

I can't tell you what a blessing it is to have such a wonderful backbone! Thank YOU! <3