Creative Writing Lesson Ideas by Christina Yother, PhD

Ask most students in a traditional school environment and they’ll likely tell you that there is little room for creativity in their daily curriculum. So much information must be covered and crammed into a short time to prepare for the overwhelming amount of standardized testing they’ll take in the span of a school year. Many students will go one step further and exclaim that they hate writing. They dread the 5-Paragraph essay, the closing sentence, the reference pages, the topics, and the checklist of requirements. They roll their eyes at rubrics and book reports and research papers, often waiting until the last possible moment to try to pull off yet another writing assignment. College writing is
often the same way. Analyze this. Discuss that. Back up your claim with research and facts. Be sure you site each source correctly. This essay must be X number of pages. Of course the papers get done (and many done well!) but I don’t know one person who hasn’t played with margins and font to make an essay on a random topic just a little bit longer.

While traditional academic writing is valuable and we can learn so much from formal writing, it’s important to recognize that allowing students the opportunity to explore creative writing is just as valuable. It fosters imagination, promotes healing through self-expression, allows for the development of critical thinking skills, give the opportunity to learn grammar and punctuation in a different way, and it can improve their confidence. Some studies even suggest creative writing can help lower blood pressure, stress, and help with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

One of the greatest aspects of homeschools is that students get a bit more leeway and control over their education. They have the time to explore a variety of topics and discover where their interests are. They can work creative writing into daily or weekly lessons and reach a depth unfamiliar to a more traditional environment. Here are 5 ways to bring simple creative writing lessons into your learning environment:
  • The Photo Story - choose a replica of a famous painting or photograph and create an entire story or scenario from what you see in the picture. This can easily coordinate with a history or art lesson and the photo becomes a prop to spark your imagination. 
  • Nature Writing - head outside to the park or local nature preserve with nothing more than a notebook and pencil. This is an opportunity to write what you “feel.” What does the breeze feel like on your skin? How does the shadow of the trees make you feel? Listen to the sounds surrounding you and write stream of consciousness style all your thoughts as sit in stillness. 
  • Script Writing - choose a television show or movie you’re family enjoys and write your own script for an episode or new ending. You already know the characters and background but now you can play around with the idea of “what if...” Plus this is a great way to focus on writing dialogue.
  • Last Line/First Line - Head to your bookshelf and choose one of your favorite books - even a random book will work. Write down the first line of the book and the last line of the book.  Have the last line of the book be the start of a poem.  Write the poem until the first line from your book makes sense as the ending of your poem.  Is it really easy to make the end the beginning and the beginning the end!?

ChristinaYother is a historical and contemporary romance writer. She has been involved with writing, blogging, and social media for several years and earned a PhD in 2012 by writing one of the first dissertations to explore how women build community through writing online. She lives in small-town Georgia with her husband and three children. 

For more information, visit her website or check out her historical romance series available now.

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