A Love of Writing Lasts a Lifetime


Read and hear the work of our young writers!

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Why Not Write Wednesday: Fire, water, air and earth

Every Wednesday our creative writing prompt encourages you to take up your pen and indulge your author self

Have you ever thought what it would be like to give the elements personalities? What would fire, water, air and earth be like as people? Use the picture below for inspiration or a starting point.


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Why Not Write Wednesday: Let's write a poem

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Why Not Write Wednesday: Let's write a poem

Every Wednesday our creative writing prompt encourages you to take up your pen and indulge your author self

Today's writing prompt is courtesy of Beth Cregan, a counterpart doing what we do way over in Australia. writeawaywithme.com.

How about trying a list poem? Here are some topics to try:

  • Things That Make Me Happy

  • 15 Things I Want For Dinner

  • Things I’m Good At

  • Things That Make Me Different

  • 10 Things I Couldn’t Care Less About

  • Things I Love Doing On The Weekend

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Reblog - Sondra Hall from The Roar Sessions

Jena Schwartz asked me to guest blog this month for her series "The Roar Sessions". Here is my piece about loving my work with writing and kids.

 

Leaving Job City 
by Sondra Hall

Looking back now, at 55, I realize that I felt landlocked for most of my professional life. For years, I did “good work” for nonprofits, producing conferences and fundraisers. I earned a living, but part of me was desperate to get to the seaside, so to speak, to inhale and exhale deeply, watch the rhythm of the waves and feel the expanse of sea and sky.

To continue the metaphor, it was like being stuck in the middle of Job City without a car. Life was fine, I had what I needed, but on the rare occasions when I would get out to the beach I was reminded that there was another horizon; I remembered how to breathe.

Eventually, I decided to quit working in Job City and leave my landlocked life behind. I packed all of my stuff and moved permanently to an entirely different place where I could really breathe. I call that place Creativity and I’ve lived there ever since.

You have to take a lot of air into your lungs to breathe deeply and even more to let out a roar.

Now that I’m allowing myself to breathe more deeply, I roar quite a bit.

One of the things that I believe in wholeheartedly is the power of writing to transform. Writing has been a conduit for my frustrations and fears, aspirations and anger since I can remember. I’ve got several shelves filled with journals where I mused and questioned, proclaimed and confessed from high school, through my twenties, and into my thirties. It’s always felt good to express my feelings on paper, as well as to write stories and poems.

Because writing creatively has always been so important to me, I wanted my two children to have the opportunity to have adventure with words as well. By the time they were in elementary school George W. Bush had signed the “No Child Left Behind Act” that started the obsession with testing and assessments. Art, music, dance and creative writing got the short end of the stick and my children weren’t getting much time during school to explore their author-selves.

It upset me tremendously that public school kids weren’t being encouraged or supported to explore their creativity because it couldn’t be measured and tested.

This state of affairs made me roar.

One day (and I still remember the moment, sitting up in bed that morning) I woke up and decided that I was going to do something about this. I wanted to create a place where elementary school kids could use their imaginations and be encouraged to “color outside the lines.” I called it, “Take My Word For It!” and seven years later we’re going strong with 20 plus programs throughout the Bay area, outside of D.C., in Cambridge, MA and in Chicago. Our aim is to create an environment where kids feel supported and safe in expressing themselves and are free to dive into their imaginations.

Our curricula are designed to let them stretch their creative muscles, the ones that have been too dormant in school all day. They write about reaching into their pockets to find polar bears and portals to other worlds, and compose odes to calamari and chocolate mousse. They embrace metaphor and simile, personification and alliteration and are thrilled to discover the places they can go with words.

They learn that what they have to say is valid and important. They learn to R O A R.

At the end of each session of classes we put on a reading where the kids have the chance to share their work with family and friends. I’ve attended countless readings over the years and have never ceased to be bowled over by the power, poignancy and inventiveness of their writing. Here’s an example of a Question Poem, written by one of our students, Patrick, who was in fourth grade at the time. (His spelling has not been corrected.)

Questions

Is rain the tears of god?
And why hasn’t god been crying lately, there is so much to cry about?
Why don’t fish go to preeschool,
and learn how to share?
Why do some kids hate preeschool?
And why do some of the smartest people on the planet have few friends?
Why is there so much discrimination in the world?
Why can’t people that are so much the same yet so different be friends?
Why do people be unkind to people only slightly different than themselves?
Why can’t people be friends?
Why can’t I spell freainds right?
Why do people have to yell to be heard as a whisper?
If I were to ask the man on the moon why he is so silent would he answer?
Why do I say what I write in my head as I write it?
Why Is the world so complex yet so simple?
What trigered the big bang?
What is Luck?
Why does the human race have such a major sweet-tooth?
Why is the human race never satisfied nor content?
Why does the earth grieve when the sun goes down and dawns its black cloak?
Why do people get sick?
Why is it when I ask a question I get the answer no, more than yes?

Pretty amazing, right?

So, since I moved and set up my professional life in the town called Creativity, I’ve never looked back. Actually, that’s not quite true. I have looked back and when I do, I know I made the right choice when I got out of Job City. I’m doing something I believe in, that has purpose and meaning and, I love it. I’ll roar about it to anyone who’ll listen.

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Gems from our Oakton Elementary "Found Treasures" Hunters!

My Long Lost Twin: After listening to a story about twin sisters separated for years, the students write about their own (fictional) long lost twin

When I first met my twin sister, I first thought she was my twin because I saw a picture of someone who looked exactly like me. Then when I looked up her last name, I found that it was the same as mine. I sent her an email saying “Can we skype sometime tomorrow at 6?” and sent her a picture of myself. She responded in the next hour, saying “yes we can skype but only because you look exactly like me and you have the same last name as me.” It was great when we met over skype. I asked her “Where do you live?” and she said “Tyland. Where do you live?” “I live in Austin, Texas.”

We skyped back and forth for the next two weeks. It was so much fun talking to someone who looked like me and had the same last name but lived in a different place. So one day, we decided to visit each other. First I went to see her in Tyland. We went everywhere and she showed me her home. When she came and saw me in Texas, we went to a store but got split up. Not to worry because we had a plan: we had planned to meet up at the same big tree outside in the parking lot.

When she came to Texas, she got to meet my brother, father, and mom. It was great. We all decided to go on a cruise together and we decided to meet up with each other once every single year. It is great meeting your long lost twin.

- Katie, age 9

 

I have a twin but one ago I didn’t know that she existed. A year ago, she was 11-years-old and lived in India all her life. I was also 11-years-old and lived in California. Last year, I went to summer camp at Lake Tahoe, and that’s where I met her, Dipika. On the first day, she looked at me and I stared back at her. Then we immediately started to talk to each other. Everything about us looked the same! Like we did gymnastics and we have both have the same birthmark shape and placement on our bodies. We even have the same birthdays! Maybe we weren’t really twins but we both thought we were. I would write her letters like this one:

Dear Dipika,

I am simply begging you to come here so we can go to the museums together! Oh and by the way, California is simply breath-taking! I believe we will have great adventures and lots of get souvenirs.

We can see amazing buildings. Speaking of which, the dog next door had 15 babies! We can go to Virginia Beach because it is burning out there. My mom said that we can make raisin filled sandwiches to take with us on this trip! It will be so much fun!

Your Twin, Meher

We really wanted to live together. So we told our parents and they agreed that we should be living in the same house. So they ripped apart our baby pictures and then put them back together again. Poof! Magic! Somehow when they ripped our baby pictures and stuck the pieces together again, we ended up in showing up at the same house. We decided to live together in India because we both were born there. Now we’re all in the same house and my life has become less lonely.

- Meher, age 9

 

Newspaper Word Hunt: Students read through newspapers to choose words that they then spin into a story

The Festival

The Festival is one of the most top fun contests. You can win up to $50 thousand. The food there is the best kind in the world because every single country is there at the festival. You can tour the world in what kind of food they have at the Festival. You can go on a tour around the temple that the Festival is held at. Once a 38-year-old man named Luke won the $50 thousand dollar prize. He played all the games at the Festival and he read all the information about the different countries there at the Festival. He became the most important man at the Festival. He even got to go inside the Temple, where the Festival was held around, and the Wizards in there made him high king of the Festival. He also got another $10thousand dollars for going to the Temple of the Festival.

- Katie, age 9

iPad Landia

My museum is dedicated to iPads. There is an iPad mini as tiles in a special chamber. Every iPad ever made in the world would have its own section of the chamber. I call this museum iPad-Landia.  Here in the museum, there will be a special section for the broken iPads, as they are going to be made into art.

In front of the museum, there is a “me” statue standing on a tower with an iPad in my hand. This statue of Me will be made out of iPads. It is full of high technology. If anyone tried to steal it, they would electrically shocked because there is a laser pointer aimed at the statue all day. The laser would shock anyone who would go near it. But one day, the laser fails because the thief used nitrogen peroxide that broke into the laser’s operating system.

So then the owner of the museum found a fingerprint. He ran it through the system and it turned out to be his daughter! She said that she needed the iPad to light up the night, so she got a thief to steal it for her. The owner forgave her and the iPad was safe!

Meher, age 9

 

I Reached into my Pocket…: Students are given this prompt, then are free to finish the sentence as they choose to begin a free-range story!

I reached into my pocket and found a crumpled piece of paper. I took it out and uncrumpled it. It was neon green and had strange markings on it. I couldn’t recognize it so I took it to my brother, who is good at word puzzles. He didn’t know what it said. So I took it over to my mom, who knows 7 different languages besides English. But it wasn’t in a language that she knew. I took it to my dad, who has works with secret codes. It wasn’t one of his. Finally I took it to my teacher, who knew everything.

“Thank you,” she said. “You almost turned this in late.”

I looked at her, confused.

“But next time, please write it neater.”

Gillian, age 11

 

The Taxi Cab Ride: Students explore what happens to things that could be lost in a taxi

One day I was riding in a taxi on the way to the airport. It was midnight. I was with my family and we were trying to catch the 12:30am flight to California. Mom woke us up at 1am in the morning. She rushed us out and made us breakfast. I didn’t know why we were up so early. The sky was still pitch black, and the stars and moon still shone. Meanwhile, Dad had called for the taxi. In no time, it arrived and before we could pack up all our stuff, we had jumped in and drove away.

I started to get frightened. When Dad asked the driver to speed up, I got more terrified. The driver kept glaring in the rear view mirror. I noticed there something about his eyes. But before I could determine what it was, he looked away. If you can imagine how scared I was before I saw his eyes, no its’ eyes, well you wouldn’t be able to imagine how scary that is. Let’s just say I was 10 times more scared than you are listening to this story.

“Mom? Dad?” I asked, my voice trembling. “Where are we going?”

They didn’t answer. I sank down in my seat. Then I realized I was still clutching my beloved stuffed whale to my chest. How embarrassing!

Then all of a sudden, the cab lurched to a stop. Mom grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the car. We rushed on to the sidewalk. I realized that everything was still dark; all the streetlight and stoplights were out. What was going on?  

Gillian, age 11

 

Found-wordplay: Students write a letter to friend whose name starts with a T

Dear Trent,

I was climbing a tree and fell into a tar pit. I was thinking of a rap name for you. I was think of you and time. But back to this tree thing. I threw my phone and it is kinda broken now at the tar pit! So yeah, oh and the temperature is really high! I want you to know this because I want you to buy me a new phone. Thanks for listening to my tales.

Bye,

Abbey

- Abbey, age 11

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Why Not Write Wednesday: Dog Days of Summer

Every Wednesday our creative writing prompt encourages you to take up your pen and indulge your author self!

Ever heard the phrase, "dog days of summer'? Did you know the phrase came from the early greeks and Romans who named the dog days after a bright stars that rose in the summer sky? Ancient people believed the dog days were an evil time that caused oceans to boil, wind to turn sour and dogs to pant and foam. What does the phrase mean to you? For this week's writing prompt, write your own description of the dog days of summer.

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WHy Not Write Wednesday: My Declaration of Independence

Every Wednesday our creative writing prompt encourages you to take up your pen and indulge your author self!

This Saturday is the 4th of July.  One of the first things the leaders of our new nation did was write a Declaration of Independence. The authors wrote about the things they would no longer tolerate and the rights of all people in their new country.  Imagine you were creating a new country and write your own Declaration of Independence. Will you declare your freedom from bullies, homework or chores? Write about what kinds of rights the people in your new country can expect. 

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