As some of you may remember from last week, one of my resolutions for 2013 is to be a super model ...
a super, model writer, that is! I do plenty of writing, but there is something about putting pen (or pencil or marker) that opens my mind to more creative thinking and storytelling.
Similarly, my daughter loves to share her creative stories with us. Ask her to write them down, though, and her mood and interest instantly change. The whining starts, the creative ideas disappear, and we never hear the rest of the story. Until last spring.
Catherine learned about a writing contest open to all elementary students in our area. Students in fourth through sixth grade could enter an original story to become a published author. The winner would earn the chance to have their story published in the school's quarterly journal and receive a $100 gift card.
Truth be told, Catherine's initial motivation was the gift card. She was saving for an iPod Touch and knew $100 would significantly help her reach her goal. Once she started playing with the story, though, that goal faded. The story prompt intrigued her:
write a story that somehow / someway incorporates the phrase "the memories on the mantel."
She couldn't wait to get started and worked on it (on and off) for two weeks. She was excited about the story, the setting, and her characters ... and even asked for editing help!
Why did the writing contest work?
- It wasn't Mom or Dad's suggestion. She heard about it from someone else. Once she decided to enter, we encouraged her, but we kept mum on reminding her to do it.
- The topic intrigued her. Catherine likes elaborate, adventurous stories, so the writing prompt fit her literacy style.
- She liked the prizes.
- She got to use the computer. During the week we have a schoolwork-only policy for screens. Working on her contest entry earned her screen time.
Catherine didn't win the $100 gift card or become a published author, but she did become a writer. She still prefers to tell her original stories over writing them down, but she doesn't completely shut down at the suggestion.
She has turned an old notebook into a journal, complete with the words "Private - Keep Out!" on the cover. Writing isn't an everyday thing yet ... but we're closer than we used to be.
Next week, Big Universe opens its 2013 Picture Book Writing Contest. From January 15 until February 28, students in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade can create and submit a book for the Nature Writing Contest, and have a chance to become a published author. Winning books in each age group will be published on BigUniverse.com. You can get more details on the Contest Page of the Big Universe website.
Here's to sparking creativity and turning kids into passionate writers.