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And you might enjoy it too, says Charlotte Gater

Creative writing games to play with your children

There are two schools of thought on whether you can teach creativity: those who believe creativity is a talent someone is born with, and those who believe that creativity can be taught and improved.

A third way of looking at this is that everyone is born with the potential to be creative, and that it’s inherently within us - but that our education system directs us to be academic rather than creative. So only those who really enjoy being creative persevere and excel in this area (For more on this, check out Ken Robinson’s TED talk ‘We are educating people out of their creativity’.)

What we need to do is to encourage our children’s creative thinking. If they know that there isn’t always only one correct answer, then they are more likely to have a go and enjoy learning, rather than being afraid that they will get it wrong so there’s no point trying.

A world without creativity would be a world without Roald Dahl at bedtime and that would be a very sad world indeed. So why don’t you try one of these activities? Dare I say it, grammar, spelling and punctuation can sometimes put the stopper on creative flow, so leave getting those things right for the final editing stage. Just have fun with ideas and telling stories…

1) Write out different words on cards and mix them all up together. Take it in turns to pick up a card and then use whatever word is on the card to make a sentence. Each sentence should build on the last to create a story.

TOP TIP: Use different themes on the cards: colours, moods, adverbs etc. Get your child to help you create the cards so they can learn some new words to use in their writing.

2) Take a series of photos with your child. Get them to pick places they like, animals they love, objects they find interesting etc. Then use these pictures to make a storyboard. Your child can then use the colours, objects and places to get them thinking about what to write.

TOP TIP: If you can’t take photos, get your child to cut out pictures from magazines or newspapers and use these instead.

3) Create some story-writing cubes. Cut out nets for three cubes. On one cube write different characters on each side, one settings and one actions/activities. Make up the cubes and then roll each one to give your child a starting point for their story. For example Cowboy Tom, in a theme park, baking cakes.

TOP TIP: Create as many different cubes as you like for different parts of the story e.g. problems, endings, additional characters, countries etc.

4) When reading stories together, stop part way through and get your child to make up the next part of the story.

TOP TIP:  If they’re stuck, ask some question prompts e.g. How does the character feel? Where would they like to go?

5) Children need experiences in order to be inspired to write and have something to write about. Getting out and about to see, touch, taste and hear different things they can use in their writing is so important. Try going out into the garden to see bugs who become giant monsters, visit a zoo to see tropical birds for a rainforest story, or cook and taste foods from around the world for a story set in a foreign land.

TOP TIP: If you can’t get out and about to experience different environments, use books and the internet to find pictures and videos to inspire. Not many of us can travel to Antarctica to meet penguins, but watching a video, hearing the noises they make and seeing their behaviour will mean your child has a reference point for a penguin character, for example.

:: Charlotte Gater is Curriculum Manager at tuition provider Explore Learning, which is currently calling for submissions for the National Young Writer's Award. The theme this year is ‘The Mash-Up’, where children are encouraged to write a 500-word story that is a ‘mash-up’ of two genres. Deadline for submissions in June 7. 

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