During the 3E conference, there was a workshop that had us think differently about writing. It put us in the shoes of our students and made us realize that sometimes we ask them to write stories, but it can be difficult for them to do. It was called “Unleashing writing – turning writer’s workshop into a makerspace!” Jocelyn Blumgart, who ran the workshop, suggested to engage the students in play. When the students play, they inevitably create stories!
I thought this was an interesting idea, so I had a go in my class last week. Instead of focusing on writing, I laid out different materials for students to play with. There were watercolors, Lego, finger puppets, clay, and drawing material. All I did was ask the students to have fun, create something, and play. I did leave them with one last thought, when they play, record their ideas of stories (only notes of ideas) in their seed books.
The lesson went better than I anticipated. The kids were extremely engaged! I was worried that it might just be a waste of time, but to my surprise not only did they have fun playing, but they were truly creating stories! Some worked alone, painting or building Lego, but most worked in groups.
One girl, working alone on a painting told me the story behind what she was painting. A man who wandered in the mountains alone with no food. He met an old man and helped him out. Then two of them tried to find shelter in a cave. The cave had a bear in it, and luckily, the bear was really nice and helped them both out. Sounds like an interesting story, right?
There was a group of 3 children playing with puppets. They told me a big story about different animals who interacted with each other in a magical land. They asked me if they could work on the writing the story together, but I said I would rather them write separate stories. This made them a bit upset, but I explained that it could be quite interesting if they each wrote the same story from different animal’s perspectives. This made their eye’s light up and they already started talking about a series of stories based on the different animals! They loved this idea and others did too. There were two boys playing with Lego where there were a super villain and super hero. They jumped on this idea of writing two different stories from each of their character’s perspectives.
Of course, this was just the beginning, and we will continue doing this for weeks to come. I’m sure the students’ stories will alter and change, but I’m hopeful their excitement for writing will remain constant. Writing through play was a big success and I am truly looking forward to seeing the interesting stories that come out of it!