It’s a jungle out there: Danger Island

Imagine you and your crew have braved a turbulent sea only to, at last, crash on the shores of a tropical island.

But it is no haven! As you and your gang of intrepid survivors make your way inland, it is only to discover that the isle is infested with one particular creature . . .

Such was the writing prompt I delivered yesterday at our creative writing camp on the theme of safari, which I’m teaching Yangpyeong, Korea, with fellow authors Kallie George and Dan Bar-el.

To help the students visualize this activity, I had them pick a creature from a sack and then  make a map of the island. Then it was up to them to write the story and see if their characters could survive the island!

Here are a few photos of their maps . . . deadly AND spectacular!














It’s a jungle out there: the scene of the crime at Safari camp


As part of the creative writing camp I’m currently teaching with authors Kallie George and Dan Bar-el in Korea, we created a scene in the “jungle” where some hapless safari explorers met their demise.

The idea behind the activity is to let the kids come examine the site and then imagine what  occurred. Here’s some photos, showing cannibal spears, a hand reaching out from a quicksand pool, a scattered treasure, and a mysterious egg . . .





Of course, Korea in the summer is super hot, so no one had to imagine the blistering temperatures of a safari adventure. Add to that grasshopper, millipedes, and swarms of ants, and we really had ourselves quite a scene!

After the students were done examining the area and taking notes, it was back to the classroom to ruminate upon their findings and craft a short story.

It’s a jungle out there: safari camp in South Korea!

I’m currently teaching a creative writing camp on the theme of safari in Yangpyeong, South Korea, with authors Kallie George and Dan Bar-el.

We started the week by asking the kids to design safari posters that would incite the characters to go on a wilderness adventure. Of course, as we all know, advertisements are known to stretch the truth . . . so now that we’ve lured our hapless character, let the chaos begin!

It’s a big world out there . . .

Last week, I taught a creative writing camp for the Creative Writing for Children Society on the theme of “Secret Worlds” with author Kallie George. We’ve both written books that involved secret settings, so it was a perfect fit for us to teach. In particular, we decided to focus the topics on characters who get miniaturized and have to survive in what is now a giant world.

We began by having the kids construct miniature peg figures and writing a short poem about being small. This was a great exercise because these peg figures served to be their scale models for the week. They never had to remember how big their characters were—they were right in front of them!


After this project, the students began writing stories about characters who discover a shrink ray machine and accidentally (or in some case, purposely!) get shrunk down. To help with this part, we built shrink ray props. So, now, everyone in the class had a miniaturized figure and a shrink ray gun. The kids were off to the races, writing their stories.


The next step was to have the students imagine a single room in the house as an epic landscape that their miniaturized characters had to cross. So, for example, a pile of dirty laundry became Mount Clothes, and that sort of thing. This was a fun way to get them to think about perspective.

Then, as the characters crossed this landscape we introduced the problem of an attack by a creature. The kids picked critters from a bag, receiving things such as spiders, cockroaches, and centipedes (these were plastic critters, of course, but there was still much screaming). We then had the students pick items from a second bag, and these were things that their characters might find on the floor and use to survive the creature. I call that particular workshop “Big Problem, Small Solution.”

Here are some photos of their brainstorming sheets, which the students used to figure out their plan of attacks against their critters.


As you can see by the photos,  items the characters had at their disposal included stamps, toothpicks, birthday candles, bottle camps, spools, and miniature cocktail decorations! The result was a lot of fun solutions.

A second major  project we had the students do at the camp was to take all their props and produce a short script and storyboard for a four-minute movie about how they themselves got shrunk down at camp and had to survive. They loved this creative process and, of course, they all had props ready to go.