Creative writing with creative students in Bangkok

My wife and I are currently beginning our second week as artists-in-residence at ELC school in Bangkok, Thailand. This is my third tour of duty at the school, but the first for Marcie, so I was really excited to share this wonderful haven with her.

The school is a maze of pathways, sprinkled with bamboo fences, Thai-style architecture, and lush tropical plants. It’s a truly magical place!

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For the most part, the weather has been hot and humid, but what a surprise we had in the first week when the skies rumbled, grumbled, and gushed out inches of rain in a matter of minutes. The school flooded and we had to re-arrange our schedules because the youngest kids couldn’t make it to Marcie’s classroom.


Just part of a day’s work, I guess!

While Marcie has been working with the younger grades to help them nurture creativity through acting, I’ve been working with the older kids to work on creative writing.

For the Year 3s, we’ve been working on stories that features robots. This ties in to part of their curriculum, since they are currently studying robotics. I decided to take a step back and have the students imagine the characters who invent robots and have them consider questions such as: “What type of people are inventors?”, “What are some of the characteristics of inventors?”, and “What types of robots would these characters invent?” After this workshop, the students then beginning to design the robots that matched with their inventive characters. Here are some photos of their brainstorming work:

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For the Year 4s, I decided to deliver my popular Monster-in-a-Bottle workshop. This involves a fun project in which the students build “pet monsters”, write hatching instructions, and then invent characters who make don’t follow those instructions. The result: a story with a definite problem.

However, there was one problem this time with the actual project. I don’t know what happened between Vancouver and Bangkok, but I ended up losing or not packing enough bottles. This means that I only had enough miniature bottles for one class. Thankfully, we were able to get some different bottles for the second class. They weren’t quite as miniature, but I still think they look pretty good.

Here’s the first batch of monster pets, in the small bottles:


And here’s the batch with the bigger bottles:

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I think both batches look pretty spectacular. The kids are itching to take their new pets home, but I’m making them wait until our stories are complete—these bottles are meant to keep them inspired and to help them inject better description into their writing.

For the Year 5s and 6s, we’ve been working on the story starter of a group of characters who get shrunk down by a shrink ray. We designed casts of characters and then built the actual shrink rays that will be used to miniaturize them. Here are some of the photos of our work thus far.

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I’m pleased to say that the stories that go with all of these brainstorming projects have been turning out really well. It’s very gratifying to see students blossom in such a short time. The next three days will be spent wrapping up the students’ stories and helping them to celebrate them.

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