The Winter Wonterland creative writing camp

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It’s a wrap! I just finished leading a two-day writing camp with author Kallie George for the Creative Writing for Children Society (CWC). The theme was “Winter Wonderland,” focusing all on holiday or winter-themed stories.

At CWC, we do a lot of book production. Students write, edit, and illustrate, and then we take all of their work and publish it in the form of beautiful anthologies or individual books. Everything looks pretty professional. But for this specific camp, we decided to have our students make one-of-a-kind books done by hand.

Part of the inspiration for this idea came from the fact that both Kallie and I used to make our own books when we were kids, often giving them to family members as presents. I grew before computers and printers, so my books were pretty wretched, as you can see by the holiday story I wrote when I was ten or eleven . . .

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The books Kallie wrote as a child, by comparison, were much more professional in their appearance (it kind of helped that her dad had a friend who was a professional printer!):

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In any case, we decided it would be fun to revisit this this type of book development, so we printed off blank booklets for the kids. We just didn’t let them start writing in them right away. First, we had them complete a brainstorming worksheet, and then write a rough draft on normal lined paper.

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Over the course of the camp, we also gave them several other activities, just to keep their creative juices flowing. One of our favorites was the “black out” poem, in which the students took famous Christmas tales and identified certain words to make up their own poems (they then have to black out all the rejected words).

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We also had them write concrete poetry, which they could turn into tree ornaments. I was pleased that there were a few Santa Yodas!

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These small activities gave the students a break from the bigger project of creating their own holiday books. In truth, many of them didn’t quite finish their books, but they still have a couple of days until Christmas if they want to stick them in loved one’s stocking. Here are some photos of their projects in progress:

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Our final activity of the camp was to have each of the students design a “terrible” gift and then write an advertisement to sell it. This was a fun way to end the weekend, as we had each of the students present their commercial. There were some great “terrible” ideas, such as dull pencils (in case you don’t want to poke yourself), square balls (in case you are scared of your balls bouncing too high), and a doll with a spike for its head (it helps your child learn to play with something dangerous).

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