Sunday, September 8, 2013

Program: Young Authors

I wanted to try something a bit different for a summer program this year. Normally, they are all super high energy, or craft-focused. I had already made one big change by continuing to run my book club during the summer, so I didn't think it would really hurt anything to try something else. We get a lot of questions about writing groups or programs for kids, so I decided I'd give it a go.

It went about as I expected - a few kids were there simply because their parents saw a program for their age group at that time or because they'd gotten used to coming at the same time every week for a program. But, there were also some kids who seemed genuinely excited about trying out some different creative writing exercises. In fact, I think one or two would have stayed all afternoon if I'd let them. Here are the different things the kids could try out.

Comics: this is where the majority of the boys who showed up spent their time. I just put out pencils and blank copier paper and let them make their own comics.

Blackout poetry: I did this at my Poetry Month program, but I had a low turnout for that so I figured it would be okay to repeat. I provided the kids with pages that had fallen out of a variety of library books and markers, as well as some examples for them to look at.

Six word memoirs: I've been wanting to do this in a program since I first heard about, though I'm not sure this was the best forum. I just had the different prompts set up at tables around the room, so I'm not sure the super-awesomeness of this activity was fully understood by the kids. I did give them some examples (including a few "memoirs" written by people like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter) and my teen volunteer really liked the idea.

Pictures worth a thousand words: I have been wanting to use The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in a writing program since I discovered it in grad school, though, once again, I'm not sure this was the best forum. I photocopied some of the pages and had them on a table, along with some vintage photographs, and encouraged the kids to try writing a story based on a picture. I wrote my own story during the program, in an attempt to model the idea.

Journals: I wanted to encourage the kids to keep writing at home, so I had a final station where they could make and decorate their own journals to take home. A lot of the boys at the program had fun mocking our sticker collection at this station.

That was it! I also provided snacks for them during the program. It certainly wasn't my best attended program this summer, but I had a decent turnout and a few kids that actually seemed interested in the subject. Since we get a lot of questions about writing programs for kids, I'm going to try a monthly program in the school year and see how it goes. I'd love any ideas!

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