When your writing students have hit a wall, frustrated with their blank papers, let them go to the ultimate treasure trove of creativity and imagination: dreams. For sure, they’ll find inspiration for a character or an element of magic.
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Ask the right questions
In some instances, your students might find it a little difficult to remember their dreams. So it’s your job to draw them out. Asking questions can help. In your free writing session, ask them about the first thing that they saw in the dream. If it was a person or persona, let them describe its looks and behavior.
Encourage your pupils to use the “show, don’t tell” technique. Rather than writing “The princess looks happy,” it’s better to say “The princess had a big smile on her face while singing her favorite song.” If it was an object, let the students describe what they felt when they saw it. You can create a list of all the exciting characters that your students saw in their dreams. Doing so will solidify your characterization lessons.
Another question that you should ask is where the dream was taking place. Was it at school? At home? In outer space? Inside a cookie jar? It doesn’t matter how weird it is. Let them write it down and describe the place. Remind them to do more showing than telling.
Make a storyboard
After outlining the characters and the setting, it’s time to put them in a real story sequence. Ask them to create a storyboard. Usually, there’s already a plot that connects the characters and the setting. What you have to clarify is the importance of highlighting the conflict. This is what will keep the storyboard moving.
With that in mind, let your pupils introduce a problem that has to be resolved. It can’t just be the princess smiling all day while singing her favorite song; probe them to think of a significant or relatable problem. This might be something that’s already in their dreams or something that they have to come up with themselves, taking the characters and setting into consideration.
Conflict can take the form of another character or an event in the story. So in the princess example, a conflict might be an evil witch taking away the princess’s voice or the princess’s father being stuck in a cursed jungle. The bottom line is to make sure that your students can inject the element of conflict into their plots.
Let kids interpret their dreams
Dreams are rich sources of lessons. And lessons are very much a part of children’s stories. So you can’t miss this essential element in your writing session. Once the kids can put their storyboard in order, ask them what the meaning of their dream is. Is it about themes such as filial love, friendship, and sacrifice? Let them summarize their dream in a sentence so that it will be their guiding principle when tweaking and editing their stories. Practice the art of finding lessons in stories by asking the class for their insights after each reading session.
Have you run out of inspiration for your writing activities? Go back to where the images are rich and vivid: dreams. Treasure and bring them to life through writing.
This is a contributed post.
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