By Debra L. Karplus, MS, OTR/L
Searching for some new ideas of activities to try with your grandchildren? Kids of all ages love to tell, write, and illustrate short and not-so-shortstories. Whatever the season, wherever you are, you and your grandchildren can write stories together. Out at the beach or the park, in the backyard, or stuck indoors on a stormy day, together you can exercise your minds with creative writing. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s spontaneous. It’s portable. Special supplies and equipment are not needed.
Non-fiction, creative non-fiction, or fiction of any genre (humor, science fiction, mystery, whodunit, romance, western, or something else), your grandchildren can choose. Or encourage them to write an editorial piece, an essay that expresses their opinion on an issue, such as uniforms at school or cell phones in the classroom or personal safety using social media. Their article may be polished enough to send to the local newspaper opinion section!
Collaborate with your grandchild and facilitate getting everyone’s creative juices flowing. Describe a specific setting, maybe a favorite vacation spot, a theme park, or your grandchild’s bedroom. Write about the scenery at summer camp or about their classroom at school, or describe their favorite, or least favorite, teacher, using ample detail.
Perhaps write a description of a place they’d like to visit, or an imaginary place, a faraway land in a faraway time. Foster language development. Transform your grandchild into an adjective authority. Facilitate their use of similes, metaphors, alliteration, and other devices that accomplished writers incorporate into their masterpieces.
The plot thickens.
Experiment with different story lines. You, the grandparent, may want to develop an idea bank, maintaining an ongoing list of topics to write about, to call upon when everyone gets writer’s block. If your grandchild seems to be at a lost to start writing, pull an idea from your list, and write the opening sentence, such as: Taylor went up to the attic to search for an interesting outfit for the costume party. Or have each grandchild take a turn adding to the story.
Write a story, possibly a true story such about an unusual field trip adventure with their class. Fictionalize it to make it more interesting. Good writers show rather than tell. Write the same story and add dialogue, using quotations marks. Make each character speak in a unique way.
He says, she says.
Experiment with different points of view. Write a story in first person where the narrator is telling the story. Rewrite the story in second person or third person. Write the story from the point of view of an animal writing such as a dog in the room or a fly on the wall, or as it might be written by an inanimate object such as a plant, a button or a banana. Try writing the story as a play or turn it into a poem. Your grandchildren can be entertained for hours with this writing exercise.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
Grandchildren unexcited about writing may be more interested in being your story’s illustrator. Provide crayons, markers, or colored pencils and put the young one to the task. Or start by creating pictures and creating the story around it. Be creative, Grandpa!
There are publications, magazines and books that welcome writing by children for publishing. Aim high. You may have a winning writing in your midst. So, put the computer into hibernate mode. Pull out a pencil and writing pad, and write, write, write.
Author biography: Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines, baby boomer, and grandmother of two. She lives in a Midwestern college town where she has taught summer classes in creative writing for elementary and middle school children. She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past. Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.