Arlene has been doing some 15 minute Creative Writing exercises recently thanks to Creative Freewriting Adventure from author Stacy Farrell over at Home School Adventure Co. We were also able to see and review the newest version of this resource, Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. We have used and enjoyed other resources written by Mrs. Farrell, and Arlene was enticed by the promise of only needing to write for 15 minutes a day, so we jumped right in.
Since the only major difference we could see was that one had coloring pages, and the other did not, we just worked from the Coloring Book Edition. Creative Freewriting Adventure is different from other writing prompt curricula because it does not just give a line or idea to start a story from, it gets the student immersed in a story, and then gives them jumping off directions. Many High School students have lost their joy for the writing process because they have spent so much time on multiple re-writes of the same assignment. These exercises (10 in all) give them a chance to set a timer for 15 minutes and write without pressure to spell or punctuate correctly. It helps them be creative again, and it allows them to write the ending of the story however they want.
Sometimes Arlene found that the timer went off before she was at the place she wanted the story to end. Because she was enjoying writing, she lost track of the time and just enjoyed flushing out the details of the story. On one of the exercises, she asked for "five more minutes?" at the timer and ended up writing for almost two hours. I'm not saying your reluctant writer is going to change overnight, but I really do think these exercises free the student up to think big and broadly about where they want the story to go, without the pressure of proofreading.
Arlene did end up doing the coloring pages for a few of the stories. Since they were supposed to be quick writing exercises she decided to color with her broad tip markers and do them in a quick sketch style. Along the way she found out that we do not have a gray marker, which bothered her since one of the pictures had mountains. Note to self: get a new box of markers soon! :)
Still wondering how these creative writing exercises work? Stacy Farrell has written each lesson/ prompt with three parts, the third part being three sets of jumping off questions. Each lesson begins with some background, either about the person involved, or the story's original writer. This section included some sort of artwork, usually a painting or two, one of which the coloring sheet is based upon. Then comes the actual start of the story. There is just enough in each one to get you hooked into the story, and then come the jumping off directions. This third part of the exercise has three parts: background, dialogue, and incorporate your senses. The background part asks students if they want to include anything else in the story's start to hint towards where it will go, the dialogue section questions make the student think about who will speak and what they will say, and the incorporate your senses questions ask them to think and write about: What do you see, what do you hear, and what do you smell, etc.
I really liked these detailed jumping off questions as they give the student some parameters to think about, while still giving them the freedom to take the story where they want it to go. Because there are so many questions to choose from to help them think you could easily have the student come back and start from the same story a few months later and they would come up with a totally different ending. If they focused on the dialogue one time, they might focus on the senses used to describe the scene the next time.
This from Arlene:
I really liked Creative Freewriting Adventure. The story prompts were interesting and all so different from each other that I had lots of fun with the different plots that I could make for each. I liked the ancient stories and the various prompts from the story of the wise woman, but my favorite was the story of the purple cave world. I liked it so much that I went way past 15 minutes and had to go back and figure out how far I had gotten so Mom could see that part for her review. Anyway the 15 minute part was fun but I have changed my cave story and started to make it a lot longer the I could have in the 15 min. timer. I like the story of Thales and of the Pegasus, and I didn’t like the princess. For most of the stories I was close to done in 15 min. so I finished then, but for the cave story I went on for like 2 hours. They are all lots of fun and its really interesting to see how far you get in 15 min.
Here is one of Arlene's stories, that she wrote in 15 minutes:
(without any editing at all by Mom - freewriting - remember?!)
(without any editing at all by Mom - freewriting - remember?!)
I walked into the picture of the farm with the small river. it is even more beautiful the it looked as a painting. my feet were bare and the grass was soft agents them, the brook looked inviting and the girl in it seeing me waved her hand towards me. Walked across the soft grass the the bank of the river a stood near the girl.
“Hello.” She said. Who are you? How did you get here There is no one for miles in that direction.”
“I came through the paining.” I told her. I looked back at where I had come from but there was nothing there. “Oh its gone!” I cried. “How am I going to get home?”
The friendly girl smiled. “Do not worry you can come live with me and my family. We are all kind and will treat you well.”
“But I can not live on a farm.” I said.
“Why not?” she asked.
“I am a princess, I have never done hard labor before. It will ruin my looks and spoil my hands.”
“You do not look like a princess.”
I looked down at the horrid old dress the old woman had made me wear. “Will that is because I was with an old woman who took me out to her cottage where she told me that I could no longer wear my nice dresses.”
“That is not surprising if I had a nice dress it would get ruined by all the chores I do. But come anyone can learn anything so surely you can learn to live on a farm.”
I looked at her. “I will not! I told you I am a princess and can not and will not do hard labor.” I walked away from the stream. Why had I ever thought this was a nice place to come to. I wanted to go home where I had all the servants I wanted to bring me food and take care of all my needs. I walked until I got back to where I had first come into the picture sone distance away from the girl and her stream. I knew that I had come here form the horrid old woman house I was in a painting surely there was some way to reverse the magic and get me back out.
Would like to view a sample of Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition? It is available on the Home School Adventure Co. website, just scroll down below the product description.
While geared for High Schoolers, this would be an appropriate resource to use for Middle School students who have already had some solid writing instruction for fiction, and who would like a break from editing and re-writes. We received both of these as PDF downloads, however the original Creative Freewriting Adventure is available in both print or downloadable format.
The Homeschool Review Crew was offered a wide variety of resources from Home School Adventure Co.
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